If you can't run over to the Hammer & Tong restaurant outside Melbourne, don't despair. Head chef Simon Ward graciously gave us his lamb ribs recipe!
"Delicious, tender meat that doesn't need complication is by far one of my favourite dishes," he says. "By adding simple herbs, lemon and a good olive oil, you're enhancing the natural flavouring of the lamb and creating an infusion of flavours that will explode on the palette."
His lamb ribs are ideal for an at home date with your new boyfriend. Who knows? It might get him to pop the question!
Two racks of lamb ribs
2 tblsp dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic crushed
½ cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of mint
1 cup (250g) of ricotta cheese
1 preserved lemon
1 large green zucchini
2 cup (500g) peas
(either fresh or frozen and blanched and refreshed)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tbls dried mint
Four large sealable plastic bags
Get a large pot of water on the stove. The pot needs to be big enough for not only the lamb ribs but enough space for the water to circulate around them. You will need to get the water up to poaching temperature (75-80°C), the same as if you were to poach an egg. If you do not have a temperature probe, you will be able to see small lines of bubbles running along the sides of the pot to the surface. Not boiling. Once the ribs are in, a small amount of bubbles is fine, but nothing over a small simmer.
Marinate the lamb ribs with the dried rosemary, olive oil, crushed garlic and seasoning.
Place each rack of ribs in a large sealable plastic bag, making sure to remove all of the air from each bag. This ensures that they will not float in the poaching pot, and will be cooked evenly and properly! We recommend that you double bag them, to ensure that no water will get into the pouch and no marinade or lamb juice will be lost.
Sous vide (poach in their bags) for about 3 hours. Cooking time will vary depending on the water temperature and size of the ribs. I would recommend checking them at 3hrs. To check them, pinch the meat in the bag (do not remove them). The feel will be soft, not terribly bouncey.
In the meantime, make the dressing. To make the mint dressing, you will need to make a gastric. This means that you will reduce the vinegar and sugar to a thicker state (but not a syrup) on the stove by half. Add the dried mint and seasoning.
You will also have enough time to make the salad garnish! Blanch the peas if you have not already done so and reserve in the fridge (and refresh them for colour and texture enhancement). Crumble the ricotta and reserve in the fridge. Pick the mint leaves and reserve in the fridge. For the zucchini, either mandolin or use a veggie peeler to turn it into ribbons (long thin strips) and reserve. If you have used preserved lemons before, you will know not to use the flesh of the lemon! It is the rind you are interested in. Quarter the lemon, and with your knife scrape the flesh out. Run the knife along rind, trying to remove as much pith as possible.
Finely slice (as fine as you can) in nice long strips and save for later.
Once the ribs are done, remove them from the water but leave in the bag to cool down in their juices. The first choice would be to use a deep fryer. If you do not have a small bench top deep fryer, you can either roast them in a cranked up oven (200°C) or pan fry them. Whichever cooking vessel you use, make sure to get it hot and ready.
Portion each rack of ribs into points. Ie: cut along the bones down in a single motion into individual ribs. Deep fry/roast/pan fry until crispy and golden
Drain onto paper towels and season.
Combine the salad ingredients, tearing the mint leaves to release the flavour. Serve hot crispy ribs on a bed of the salad (after you dress it) with a little extra mint dressing on top.