Wow, wow, wow! These are so fun I can hardly contain myself! First of all, if the Rack of Lamb is the Champagne of Lamb, Lamb Riblets are the Pabst Blue Ribbon. This is a roll your sleeves up and dig in kind of meal; nothing fancy, but nothing boring either. I guarantee you’ll find yourself reaching for another while saying ‘just one more”- which will continue for another 5 or 6 or until they’re gone. I would consider this a bucket list item if you enjoy great Lamb.
The Lamb Riblets come from the shoulder area, and are the continuation of the ribs from the Rack of Lamb. But the only similarity between the two are the ribs because the meat is completely different. The meat will be a little firmer, and the flavor will be a factor of 3. These are not to be confused with the Lamb Breast which is most thought of when talking lamb Ribs. The Lamb Riblets are less available and therefore less familiar because they are usually an overlooked part of a Lamb Shoulder Chop. Anyone familiar with this chop will remember that along the edge, there are 3 of four small vertical ribs attached. Those are part of the Lamb Riblet.
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The lamb is sourced from Northern California which with its temperate climate and proximity to the ocean we believe rivals the famous coastal Lamb of France.
What the hell, just go for it! The easiest method for cooking Lamb Riblets is to simply roast in the oven. Use a preheated 325-degree oven, place the Lamb Riblets in a roasting pan or a sheet pan bone side down. I don’t use a rack with these, but that certainly is an option. Not using a rack, after I cook the Lamb Riblets I briefly drain them (again, bone side down) on paper towels. Here is where it gets interesting: This is one of the few cuts of meat that I recommend overcooking! It has to do with the ultimate texture. I always cook Lamb to “pink” internal, but with Lamb Riblets, I go straight to medium (maybe around 140 degrees internal). With a 325 oven, this will take between 50 and 75 minutes depending on the quantity being cooked. To serve, turn them over so you can see the bones and simply slice individually between the ribs.
This is another cut of Lamb that I am comfortable doing on the grill. Lamb fat is high in glycerin and will flare more quickly and seriously than beef fat, but the Lamb Riblets have a “heat shield” so to speak by virtue of the ribs being on one side, so if a flare up should occur (which it probably will) simply flip to bone side down and you’re back in control. I will remind you of my mantra when doing Lamb on the grill: Bring your glass of wine with you at the start- do not walk away and leave unattended.
As for seasoning, this cut out of all cuts of Lamb has such over the top flavor, I would stay with just salt and pepper and let the Lamb Riblets do their thing!