Lamb Ribs with Spicy Harissa Barbecue Sauce
Step aside, baby backs.
Perfect for parties, these ribs pre-roast in the oven, then crisp up under the broiler. Ask your butcher for a Denver cut, the lamb rib equivalent of St. Louis–style pork spare ribs, which is a fatty portion from the belly side. The ever-dependable harissa—a North African garlicky chile paste—adorns this dish as a spicy, tangy, layered barbecue sauce.
Featured in: “Eating More Lamb Could Change the Future of Appalachia.”
For the ribs:
- 1 tbsp. ground coriander
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. smoked hot paprika
- 1½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- 2 racks of lamb ribs (3¼ lb. total), cut Denver-style
For the harissa barbecue sauce:
- ½ cups ketchup
- 2-3 tbsp. harissa paste
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Thinly sliced scallions or cilantro leaves, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and set a rack in the center.
- To a large bowl, add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, and stir to combine. Add the ribs, and rub the seasoning evenly over them.
- Wrap each rack tightly in foil, and place on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the meat is tender when poked with a knife, about 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: To a medium bowl, add the ketchup, harissa, honey, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
- Unwrap the ribs, discarding the foil and any rendered fat. Preheat the broiler, line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of foil, and place a wire rack on top. Set the ribs on the rack and broil, watching closely for burning, until browned and crispy, 5–10 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet, brush the ribs with a thin layer of the prepared sauce, then continue broiling until the tops are glazed and sticky, 1–3 minutes more.
- Remove the racks from the oven, let cool slightly, then slice into individual ribs. Transfer to a platter, top with scallions or cilantro, and serve hot, with extra sauce for dipping.