Maple and Fig Lamb Ribs with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Menu PartEntree

Chef Elise Wiggins

Downsized portions of meat adapt well to small plates and appetizers. At Cattivella restaurant in Denver, chef-owner Elise Wiggins marinates an underutilized and more economical cut—lamb spare ribs—then bakes them until the meat is tender and infused with flavor. A sweet-sour glaze completes the recipe. The ribs are served with a dollop of goat cheese and sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

Photo by Chad-Chisholm


1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
2 tbsp. fennel pollen
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne, divided
2 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
2 racks lamb spareribs
1/2 cup fig preserves
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
10 oz. young goat cheese
4 oz. finely chopped roasted walnuts
5 tbsp. roughly chopped Italian parsley


1. In small bowl, stir together oil, garlic, rosemary, fennel pollen, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt. 
2. Remove membrane from lamb ribs; pat ribs dry and rub all over with spice mixture. Transfer ribs to large sealable plastic bag. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate ribs in refrigerator for at least 8 hours. 
3. Bring ribs to room temperature, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer ribs to heavy shallow baking pan and cover pan tightly with foil. Bake on middle rack of oven for 1 1/4 hours. 
4. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, stir together fig preserves, vinegar and syrup.  Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. 
5. Discard foil from ribs. Carefully pour off and discard fat from pan. Allow to cool. Cut into single rib servings.  
6. Brush ribs with some of marmalade glaze and return to roasting pan. Cook until brown and tender, basting every 10 minutes using all of glaze and turning racks over every 20 minutes.
7. To serve, stack 2 to 4 bones on top of each other and plate with a scoop of goat cheese dipped in chopped walnuts. Garnish ribs with sprinkle of walnuts and roughly chopped parsley.

Photo courtesy of American Lamb Board

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