Smoked lamb ribs and fenel are a perfect combination. I know many people avoid lamb ribs because they tend to be on the fatty side. I personally like the added flavor, but if it bothers you feel free to remove some of the fat before or after cooking. The fennel rub provides a subtle anise flavor which is a pleasant surprise to the tangy lamb.
This Lamb Ribs recipe is as simple and hands off as they come for a barbecue recipe, but don’t let this fool you. These ribs are delicious. The fennel rub provides a nice crusty exterior texture while also helping to trap in the juicy succulence of the slow smoked lamb ribs. Lamb ribs or “Denver” ribs, as they are called are not easy to find. You’ll need a local specialty type grocery store or a butcher. I’ve been fortunate to live in cities like Chicago and Austin where quality butchers are present. I bought these beauties from my guys at Salt and Time Butcher Shop in my neighborhood. You gotta start with good product to end with great product. All is not loss if lamb ribs aren’t available, as beef or pork are suitable replacements.
All the work needed occurs upfront as there are a few basic steps. The first is prepping the ribs in terms of removing the thin membrane that covers the bone side. This is an optional step, purely based on personal preference. It’s also a step that’s highly polarizing. For me I go skin removed but it’s more habit than anything else since it was the way I was taught. To remove the skin take a butter knife and slide it under the bone-side skin creating just enough space to peel the skin away with your hands. The skin will be slick so grabbing with a paper towel will likely be necessary.
All that is left to do at this point prep-wise is to season the ribs. I’m generous with my rubs so I cover both sides pretty heavily. However, do reserve enough in order to add another coating at the end. Fennel with its strong licorice flavor profile can be tough to eat when used in too high of quantity, so tread lightly as a little goes a long way. The presence of brown sugar balances the flavor keeping the fennel in check, while also helping with caramelization. I’m a dry rub no sauce Texan so for me the recipe stops here. Trust me when I tell you sauce is absolutely unnecessary for these lamb ribs. However, if you going to ignore my reco and the strongly preferred please refrain from using any commercial sauce. Either try this beet greens salsa or some other herb based sauce.
Great beats, better eats. Enjoy these succulant, tangy and smoked lamb ribs with fennel based rub and sauce.
Slow-Smoked Lamb Ribs with Fennel Rub
- 1 rack Lamb (Denver) Ribs
- 1 tbsp Ground Garlic
- 2 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tbsp kosher Salt
- ½ tbsp Cumin
- 1 tbsp Course Black Pepper
- 1 tspn Ground Fennel
- ½ tbsp. Brown sugar
For the spice rub
Combine all spice ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Prepare the ribs
Place rack of ribs meat side down. Remove membrane (thin paper like skin on back of ribs). Easiest way to do this is to use a butter knife to slide under the skin at the middle part of the rack. Once loosened use pliers or a paper towel to slowly pull the membrane away from the ribs.
Generously season both sides of the ribs with the rub. Let the ribs sit for an hour in the refrigerator. When ready to cook remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.
Prepare smoker for indirect smoking. Once temperature of 225 degrees is reached, place ribs in the smoker and close the lid and smoke for 4 hours. I use a rib rack to smoke them upright but if not smoke them bone side down.
Remove, let cool. Top off the ribs with an additional application of the rub.
Rub works well on beef and pork ribs as well.