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The spring grilling season calls for lamb, and all the flavors that go with it. This recipe uses many “bright” flavors – curry, lemon, mint and shallots, to enhance the already great lamb flavors. Sourcing the lamb ribs will take some looking around, but it will be well worth it, the flavor is intense! Try your local butcher or specialty supplier, lamb ribs are often called “Denver style” ribs. The flavor of lamb is a little stronger and more aromatic than pork or beef ribs. If you like roasted lamb, you will love this flavor!
For best results, use a rib rack to cook these as the upright holder will allow the fat to render and run off easier into the drip pan. Remember, these flavors don’t need too much smoke, a light application will do. Spring is finally here, and with it, a new season of grilling on a Weber!
Serves: 4-6 people
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 ½ to 2 hours
4 each lamb “Denver rack” ribs (from the belly – kind of like lamb bacon, bone in)
4-5 pc wood chunks, apple or cherry (or about 2 cups of chips for the gas grill, soak the chips for 1 hour)
6 tablespoons brown sugar, dark
2 tablespoons curry powder (I use a Vadouvan blend – it’s a little sweeter, but any will do)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper, ground
½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon mint leaves, minced
1 lemon, for juice and zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon garlic clove, peeled and minced
1. Place the ribs on a pan with the bone side facing upwards.
2. Use a dull knife to pry between the bones and the thick membrane covering them.
Pry the membrane apart and “peel” this away from the ribs. Use a dry towel to help get a good grip.
3. Once all the ribs have been peeled, combine the ingredients for the rub.
4. Rub all the ribs on both sides, pressing the rub in as best as you can.
5. Set up the kettle (or gas grill) for indirect, medium heat for smoking (about 300-350F, 3-zone set up). You will want to have the charcoal on either side of the kettle, leaving a gap in the center or if you are using a 3+ burner gas grill make sure that you have the center burner(s) off or if you have a 2 burner gas grill have one burner on, one off. Note, if using a 2 burner grill make sure you rotate the ribs halfway through the cook so the ribs cook evenly on all sides. Place a foil pan in the center to catch the drippings (there will be a good amount. Save some – the drippings from the rack will make some delicious roasted potatoes!).
6. Once the grill is ready, place the wood chunks (or chips for gas grilling) of your choice in the coals (a light smoke will be best – apple or cherry wood will do).
7. When placing the ribs in the rib rack, position the thicker part of the rack towards the bottom, and the thinner bones facing upwards. This step will help cook the ribs more evenly - the thicker part is nearest the heat.
8. Position the ribs in the center of the grill, above the drip pan. Close the lid.
9. Cook/smoke the ribs for at least 1 hour before opening the lid. If using a 2 burner grill, you will need to rotate the ribs after 30 minutes so that they cook evenly on all sides.
10. While the ribs cook, prepare the sauce. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. Set this aside.
11. After about 1 hour, brush the ribs with the sauce very generously. Close the lid and cook another 20 minutes.
12. After 20 minutes have passed, check the ribs again. They should be dark, but not scorched. Check the temperature in at least 3 places, it should be around 190F.
13. Once the ribs have cooked through, remove them from the grill and put them on a platter. Cover with foil and let rest in a warm place. Your oven (turned off!) will work great.
14. After the ribs have rested, slice them into 1-bone pieces and serve with the remaining sauce.
Keep the coals hot!