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Barbecued lamb ribs with smoked eggplant and yoghurt sauce

"Part of the beauty of Gwen is practising not only whole-animal butchery but whole-animal cooking over an open firepit," says Curtis Stone. "It means every part of the animal is honoured and enjoyed, including the less commonly found rack of lamb ribs, which are juicy and delicious to eat right off the bone. The ribs are covered and cooked low and slow in the oven and are finished uncovered on the barbecue to achieve a good crust. Ask your local butcher for this specialty cut."

Begin this recipe a day ahead to brine the lamb ribs and make the smoked eggplant. Stone uses almond wood for barbecuing; substitute another wood if it's unavailable.

You'll need

4 racks of lamb ribs (about 600gm each) Olive oil, for brushing Edible flowers and finely grated macadamia, to serve   Brine 1½ tbsp black peppercorns 1½ tbsp coriander seeds 2 tsp fennel seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 275 gm (1¼ cups) dark brown sugar 170 gm sea salt flakes Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange 6 garlic cloves, smashed 12 thyme sprigs 3 fresh bay leaf 1 fresh rosemary sprig 1½ tbsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cayenne 1 tbsp pink curing salt   Smoked eggplant 1 large eggplant 1 red capsicum 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil ½ onion (or 1 small), finely chopped 2 celery stalks, finely diced 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 ripe red tomato, peeled, seeds removed, finely diced 2 tsp caster sugar 100 gm golden raisins 75 gm drained capers in vinegar 75 gm green olives, pitted and finely diced 125 ml (½ cup) sherry vinegar 15 gm dark chocolate (85% cacao solids), finely grated 1½ tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 1½ tbsp thinly sliced basil   Dry spice rub 1½ tbsp coriander seeds 2½ tsp fennel seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 1½ tbsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cayenne pepper   Yoghurt sauce 120 gm (¾ cup) labne (see note) 2 tbsp chimichurri 3 tsp olive oil 2 tsp chilli oil 1 tsp finely chopped tarragon ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper (see note)


  • 01
  • For brine, dry-roast whole spices in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant (2-3 minutes), add 1 litre water and remaining ingredients, and bring to the boil, whisking to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat, add 3 litres cold water and cool to room temperature.
  • 02
  • Place lamb ribs and brine in a large non-reactive container, cover and refrigerate for a day.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for smoked eggplant, prepare a charcoal barbecue to medium-high heat. Pierce eggplant all over with a fork and barbecue, turning frequently, until charred and softened (25-30 minutes; or char the eggplant over an open flame). Cool, cut in half and scoop flesh into a bowl. Stand until juices form (10-15 minutes), finely chop flesh and reserve juices separately. Meanwhile, brush capsicum with 1 tsp olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until charred (10-15 minutes). Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside for 30 minutes, then peel, discard seeds and finely dice flesh. Heat remaining oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and celery, season to taste and sauté until onion begins to soften (4-5 minutes), add garlic and sauté until fragrant (1 minute). Add tomato, sugar and capsicum, and sauté until tomato softens (2-3 minutes). Add raisins, capers, olives, reserved eggplant juices and eggplant, and simmer for flavours to combine (2-3 minutes), then stir in vinegar and chocolate. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavours blend (12-15 minutes). Transfer to a container, cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, stir in herbs and season to taste.
  • 04
  • For spice rub, dry-roast whole spices until fragrant (2-3 minutes), then finely grind in a spice grinder, stir in ground spices and store in an airtight container.
  • 05
  • For yoghurt sauce, whisk ingredients in a bowl, season to taste and refrigerate until required.
  • 06
  • Preheat oven to 160C. Place a wire rack in a large roasting pan. Remove ribs from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Brush both sides of ribs with oil and sprinkle 1½ tsp spice rub evenly over both sides of each rack. Tightly wrap each rack individually in foil and place on wire rack. Roast, turning parcels halfway through cooking, until tender when pierced with a small sharp knife (2-2½ hours). Unwrap ribs and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a barbecue to medium-high heat. Barbecue ribs, turning once, until browned (12 minutes each side). Cut into 2-rib pieces and serve hot with smoked eggplant and yoghurt sauce, sprinkled with flowers and grated macadamia.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Additional Notes

Labne is available from select delicatessens. To make your own, refrigerate thick natural yoghurt overnight in a sieve placed over a bowl in the refrigerator. Aleppo pepper is available from Turkish grocers; if it’s unavailable, substitute another ground chilli.

Drink Suggestion

2006 Domaine Lionnet Terre Brûlée Cornas, Rhône – the leather and tar notes work perfectly with the smoky lamb.

Featured in

Sep 2016

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