I sometimes get baby lamb at the Halal butcher nearby. Since they like to sell it by the quarter, this most often this means dealing with a variety of cuts. On this occasion, I had a front quarter to work with so I had riblets (full length rib, minus rib-eye) , rib chops (rib eye with short-cut rib section), shoulder, and fore-shank. I had Robert cut the riblets into finger-food length sections two ribs wide and cut the rest up as for stew.
The riblets were destined for the grill after a light rubbing with a simple savory rub of EVOO, kosher salt, fresh garlic, pepper, oregano, and a drop of lemon oil.
Served the grilled riblets over a bed of convection roasted swiss chard drizzled with a bit of balsamic muscat glaze. In the oven, the chard stalks get cooked through and the leafy parts range from luxuriously moist where piled together to bone dry where more exposed to the oven's hot wind.
Wine: 1996 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero
The stew meat was used for a long-and-slow cooked sweet tagine featuring preserved figs and yellow dates.
Served with 2000 Mas Igneus "FA112", Priorat
No time right now to document the recipe and procedure on the tagine but I do want to capture at least a note on the yellow dates and on the wine and how it paired with this dish.
Yellow dates: I have never used these before. I saw them at a small ethic produce place and picked them up on spec. I learned from a quick web search that there are 4 phases to date development. Green (not useful for food). Yellow - edible but not yet fully mature. Ripe. And finally dried. I was dealing with the yellow phase. I gather most people either eat them raw or just hold onto them and wait for them to ripen. I tried them raw, and found them quite good. Not as sweet as a fully ripened date, but definitely with the distinctive flavor or date plus a slight astringency. Very nice. In this dish, I cooked them in the stew. Worked very well. Retained good flavor and mouth feel. And presented a nice complement to the soft, sweet lushness of the preserved figs and the earthy nuttiness of the muhammara I snuck in.
Mas Igneus - A wonderful bottle of wine. But more importantly, the pairing worked out extremely well. The tagine was earthy, and sweetly fruity - with a sort of deep bass note sweetness with lots of overtones of distinct individual flavors riding through. Very satisfying, but much like a men's choir. Lots of good voices in harmony - but all bottom. The Priorat had the clarity of a bell - blueberry fundamentals unmistakable. The blueberry driven palate provided the upper register that completed the dish - now fully symphonic. Sometimes these things just work out.