Cheat Lamb Soutribbetjie

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Soutribbetjie is a traditional Karoo dish that involves salting the whole lamb rib and air-drying it in the dry desert air for up to 4 days. The end result is a delicious, crispy lamb rib treat that you want to eat straight off the fire.

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 This delicacy is usually enjoyed in late winter and early spring by lamb farmers in the Karoo, as it is too hot in summer to leave the meat to air dry. It also takes so long to cook a ribbetjie well on a fire, that you need to be a weatherbeaten old farmer to do it well.

Camilla Comins, author of Girls On Fire, shared her cheat method for this treat with us. Our Karoo Lamb is just waiting for a gentle touch to turn it into your al fresco meal this weekend. Pop in to Ryan Boon Meats, the speciality butcher at De Warenmarkt in Stellenbosch this week and get your succulent lamb on.

Easy Soutribbetjie

Serves 4

1 to 1.2 kg lamb rib

15 ml coriander

10 ml Cumin

30 ml coarse salt

50 ml beer

15 ml Wholegrain mustard

Have the butcher, Wynand or Pieter at de Warenmarkt, score the skin side of the rib. It will take the spice better and crisp more easily when cooking.

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At home, preheat your oven to 150°C. Roast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan until the spice aromas start to release. Grind them in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then mix them with the salt. Rub this mixture all over the ribbetjie, getting into all the nooks, crannies and score marks. When you’ve spiced it to taste, place the ribbetjie in an ovenproof dish and cover with tin foil. Place in the oven and slow-roast for 1 hour.

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When it is done, remove from the oven and place on a board to dry out the surface. Reserve the cooking juices from the pan, but skim off the fat. You can get a special cheffy tool at Banks for this. It’s a jug with a long spout that comes from the bottom so you can pour off the jus and leave the fat behind.

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Mix the pan juices with the beer and mustard to make a basting sauce to use on the ribs as you braai them. You need to cook this ribbetjie over a medium fire. The oven-cooking will have rendered a lot of the fat, so you are just finishing it off, but fat flare-ups are inevitable, and you don’t want to burn this beautiful thing.

This is why the cheat ribbetjie is such a great idea for entertaining. It takes very little effort, and you don’t have to stand around for hours poking at the fire. Light the fire – forget about it – come back when it’s burned down to a medium heat. Crisp the fat on the ribbetjie – it shouldn’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes – and serve.

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To cut through the richness, you need a leafy salad dressed with a vinaigrette, and a sharp Asian-style slaw with crusty bread or a baked potato.

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