Test Kitchen

“Denver” Lamb Spareribs

Two great restaurants in Charleston, SC have the tastiest lamb ribs. With COVID, one only does private dinners and the other only prepares them on occasion. They are officially called Denver lamb spareribs, not to be confused with lamb chops. I have to specialty order them from my butcher, who will also remove the membrane from the back. I use a great dry rub, mustard and fresh herbs and serve with a variation of our Tzatziki, made with cilantro and dill.

The best part of this dish is you can slow roast the ribs a day in advance, or earlier in the day, so all you have to do is roast them at a high temperature for 20 minutes before serving.


  • Ribs:
  • 4 racks Denver Lamb Spareribs(4-4 1/2 pounds total)
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • A huge bunch of fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs
  • Cilantro Tzatziki:
  • 2 cups of 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 large hothouse cucumber, unpeeled but seeded,  quartered,  grated and chopped*
  • 1/4 cup finely crumbled feta cheese, try to find feta stored in brine
  • 2 lemons, zested and 1 juiced (use the other lemon for something else)
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon of fresh cilantro,  finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 garlic clove(s), minced
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons of red onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Making It:

  • Ribs:
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together, this can be done a week in advance. Store in a covered container.
  • Turn your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Brush the lamb with mustard, then rub both sides of the ribs with the dry rub. Put five sprigs of thyme and two sprigs of rosemary on 4 large pulls of aluminum foil. Put one rack on each piece, then top each with an equal amount of herbs. Wrap the tinfoil so that all the moisture is contained when cooking for three hours on a baking sheet.
  • Remove the baking sheet, open up the tinfoil and let rest for 20 minutes. Turn the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the ribs into two bones each. Layer a fresh bunch of rosemary and thyme on the bottom of a baking sheet, place the ribs on and roast for 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve on a fresh bed of rosemary with tzatziki.
  • Tzatziki:
  • Mix all of the ingredients and set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Drizzle some additional olive oil and sprinkle a few pinches of dill before serving.

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