Despite being a low-meat eater, I do enjoy gnawing on a good rib now and then. Pork ribs are typically what I cook when the urge emerges, but this recipe, adapted from Jennifer McLagan’s Odd Bits cookbook, features lamb ribs. Never had them? You should, especially if you love the gaminess of lamb.
Odd Bits is about trying or revisiting cuts that are often overlooked these days because many consumers gravitate toward tender, boneless meat. If you like rack of lamb, the spare ribs are an extension of it that you may have not tasted. I'm not sure where lamb spare ribs go after the fanciful rack is rendered; they ought to be sold right next to each other. That said, lamb spare ribs are wonderful. They have a decent amount of fat so that during cooking, the fat’s rich flavor permeates the flesh. They are also reasonably priced.
Sometimes that lamb goodness can be too much, which is why McLagan’s Asian-inflected recipe intrigued me. The tart-sweet spiciness of the tamarind glaze cuts the gaminess of the lamb. Fish sauce lends an umami undercurrent. Instead of fresh chile in the glaze, I substituted Sriracha chile sauce because it had tart-sweet heat to match the other ingredients. At the table, we tried adding Indian masala chilli sauce to the leftover glaze and it was superb, if not better than Thai Sriracha. Squirts of lime juice further brighten flavors.
Finally, this is great winter fare. The ribs get baked in the oven until tender and then rebaked with the glaze. (Hint: With the advance cooking, it’s great for holiday entertaining.) You could grill the ribs outdoors, weather permitting.