Elise Wiggins Loves Lamb, and Proves It With This Winning Recipe

February has been dubbed "Lamb Lover's Month," and Panzano chef Elise Wiggins — a definite lamb lover — was just named one of five national winners in the Chefs Feed contest hosted by the Denver-based American Lamb Board. Her prize? A whole lamb from the family-run Triple M Bar Ranch in Manzanola, the subject of a May 2013 Westword cover story on how the Miller family is pushing American lamb — and using Great Pyrenees dogs to herd the flock on their ranch. Wiggins's winning lamb rib recipe was on the menu at Panzano last year; she's thinking of bringing it back this spring.

But in the meantime, you can make it at home:

Maple and Fig American Lamb Ribs with Goat Cheese and Walnut Dust 
By Elise Wiggins

Makes 5 servings
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons Fennel pollen
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne, divided
2-½ teaspoons salt, divided
2 racks of American lamb spareribs
½ cup gig preserves
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup of maple syrup
10 oz young goat cheese
4 oz finely chopped roasted walnuts
5 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley

1. Stir together oil, garlic, rosemary, fennel pollen, pepper, ½ teaspoon cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt in a small bowl.

2. Remove membrane from the American Lamb ribs. Pat ribs dry and rub all over with spice mixture. Transfer ribs to a large sealable plastic bag and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate ribs in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

3. Bring ribs to room temperature, about 1 hour.

4. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 °F. 

Hungry for more? Find more recipes from the American Lamb Board here.