Smoked Memphis-Style American Lamb Riblets


June 29, 2022

Recipe provided by Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper, courtesy of the American Lamb Board (Smoked Memphis-Style American Lamb Riblets | American Lamb).


Ribs & Memphis-Style Dry Rub

3 rack Ameircan lamb riblets or spare ribs, about 6 ribs

1/2 cup Brown sugar

1/4 cup Paprika

1 tbsp Garlic powder

2 tsp Sea salt

2 tsp Fresh ground pepper

1 tsp Ground cayenne pepper

1 tsp Dry mustard powder

1/2 tsp Celery seed

Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

2 tbsp Vegetable oil

1 Medium yellow onion, minced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups Canned plain tomato sauce

3/4 cup Apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Blackstrap molasses

3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp Sugar

2 tsp Yellow mustard

1 tsp Sea salt

1 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp Ground cayenne pepper


1The night before, trim any excess fat from ribs, leaving about a 1/2-inch of the fat cap. Peel membrane off backside of the ribs. Whisk to combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Generously coat ribs with dry rub, massaging rub into the meat on all sides. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2To make the Memphis-style sauce, set a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, and when hot, add onions. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in all remaining barbecue sauce ingredients. Bring mixture to a gentle boil, and then turn heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often. Pour mixture into a jar or bottle, seal, and refrigerate until needed.

3If using a charcoal grill, light coals and wait for them to become completely gray. If using a gas grill, heat one side of grill to 225°F.

4Soak one pound of hickory chips in bowl. After 15 minutes, drain them.

5Bank coals to one side of grill and allow them to cool to 225°F as measured by a grill thermometer or meat thermometer inserted through vent in lid. Set a small aluminum pan filled with water on the side without the coals.

6When grill is cool enough, add a handful of hickory chips to coals, then place ribs bone-side down on grill over sheet pan of water, and cover. For a gas grill, wrap chips in aluminum foil and poke several holes in top, place on hot part of grill, and close.

7Every 30 minutes, add a handful of chips or a new foil pack of chips. Monitor temperature, keeping it within 25°F of 225°F. To bring temperature up, add more coals; to bring it down, close vents on top and bottom, until temperature reaches 225 again.

8Smoke ribs until tender (appx. 3 – 5 hours). Aim for an internal temperature between 190 – 200°F. When ribs are nearly done, pour half the barbecue sauce in a bowl, brush ribs generously with sauce on top and sides, and let them smoke another 15 – 20 minutes.

9Remove ribs to a cutting board and rest until cool enough to handle. Using a chef’s knife, cut ribs apart from one another. If ribs are connected by the sternum at the top, place palm on the heel of the knife and use your weight to cut through it.