by Matt Hames1
Al’s Lamb Ribs and Baked Beans
Chef Al Roker
Many people know Al Roker as the weatherman of NBC’s Today, but we had the pleasure of getting to know Al Roker the chef at the 2013 SOBE Wine & Food Festival. The recipe he showcased called for Lamb Ribs to be drenched in a delectable glaze made with honey, butter, coriander seeds and mustard powder. The ribs were served with baked beans comprised of bacon, navy beans, brown sugar, apple cider, onions and ketchup among other ingredients. An instant favorite of ours at the festival, Al’s Lamb Ribs are a definite must-try this spring.
4 racks lamb ribs
4 Tablespoons Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
12 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
12 sprigs thyme
12 sprigs rosemary
4 bay leaves
For the glaze:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups honey
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked
1 Tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 Tablespoon ground freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
Preheat oven to 275. Trim most of fat from the surface of the lamb racks and place them in a large roasting pan. Combine salt, garlic and herbs and rub over lamb. Place in oven and roast for 2 hours. Remove pan from oven and turn ribs, then return to oven for 30 to 60 minutes longer, or until the lamb is just tender and starting to pull away from the bone. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine vinegar and honey in a small sauce pan placed over moderate heat. Add coriander, black pepper, mustard powder and bring to a slight simmer. Lower heat and allow the mixture to reduce by half. Remove from heat and whisk in the cold butter.
Light a fire in grill or preheat broiler in oven. Slice ribs into individual pieces, cutting between each bone. When coals are covered with gray ash and fire is hot, put chops on grill directly over coals or on a pan in the broiler. Using a pastry brush, coat lamb lightly with glaze and continue to cook, turning occasionally, until the meat begins to turn golden and crisp, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a platter.
For the baked beans:
1 pound dried Navy beans, picked over and rinsed
4 slices thick-cut bacon, or 6 slices regular bacon
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup dark molasses
¼ cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ to 2 ½ cups apple cider or water
Put the baked beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak the beans overnight in a cool place. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cover the pot, set it over high heat, and bring the water to boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the beans, covered until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the beans in a colander. Dry the pot.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Put the bacon in the pot, and put the pot over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon for a couple minutes or so until it releases about 1 tablespoon of fat. Remove the bacon from the pot using a slotted spoon- reserve the bacon fat in the pot- and chop half of the slices. Set the chopped bacon and while strips aside for the moment. Add the onion to the pot with the bacon fat, and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft but not browned. Return the beans to the pot, and add the chopped bacon, brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, mustard, and salt. Stir well. Top with the remaining whole strips of bacon.
Pour in enough cider or water so you can just see it seeping through the top of the beans. Bake covered for 2 hours. Remove the cover and bake an additional 3 to 4 hours, or until the beans are dark and very tender. If the beans seem to be drying out, add more cider or water as needed. Serve the beans hot, from the pot.