Monday, October 3, 2011

Moroccan Spice Lamb Riblets and Other Super Spiced Stuff

I had lamb riblets from our CSA - and I asked myself, what the heck do I do with a lamb riblet?  It doesn't even seem like a real cut of meat, it sounds like a mini rib from a mini hobbit-type lamb.  But they exist.  Riblets are cut from the breast and look like ribs but are layered with both fat and meat.  Because of this layering, you cannot cook these quickly - braising is pretty much the only option.  I did mine with a morroccan spice alongside some acorn squash rings with a apple curry filling.  In retrospect, this was probably too much spice on one plate, but Elaine didn't mind so that's all that matters - you can do as you like.

Moroccan Spiced Braised Lamb Riblets
*adapted from this Cook's Illustrated Recipe

1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs ground nutmeg
1 tbs ground ginger
2 lb lamb riblets (about 6, or 6 lamb shanks would work as well)
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small jalepenos, minced
2 tbs tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup red wine (the recipe calls for 3 cups stock and 2 cups wine, but I wanted to save my wine for drinking)
1 1/2 cups quinoa

To do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix spices together and set aside.

Sprinkle riblets with salt. Add oil to a large pot (one that has a lid and can go in the oven) and sear riblets until brown on all sides. Remove from pan.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic, jalepenos, tomato paste and spice mixture to pot and saute 3-4 minutes, until veggies are soft.  Add liquid and stir to make sure all of the brown bits off the bottom of the pan are scraped up (that's flavor country).  Bring liquid to a simmer, add riblets back to the pot, cover and put in preheated oven for about an hour.  When 15 minutes remain, add 1 1/2 cups quinoa to pot and cook until quinoa is done.  The riblets should be falling off the bone and super tender by the time you are done. 

Apple Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter
*apparently from Bon Appetit but it was in our CSA newletter - how did they KNOW I would have a glut of acorn squash and apples??

6 tbs butter
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
2/3 cup apple juice (I used 2 tbs apple juice concentrate and a splash of water)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped (original recipe calls for currants, yuck)
2 acorn squash, cut into 1 inch rings and seeded

To do:
Melt 1 tbs butter in a skillet, add onion and sautee until tender about 2 minutes.  Add 1 tbs curry powder and stir, then add apples, apple juice and cranberries.  Cook until liquid evaporates about 6-8 minutes.  Season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt 5 tbs butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon curry powder and stir until fragrant about 1 minute. 

Brush a large baking sheet with curry butter and lay your squash rounds down on the baking sheet.  Scoop filling into the center of the rings and drizzle the remaining curry butter over the squash.  Bake until squash is tender about 30 minutes.  Use a spatula to transfer rings to plates when serving, so filling isn't left behind.

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