Harold Dieterle, the winner of Top Chef's first season, is not a chef known to shy from a challenge. Even though he has never set foot on German soil, Dieterle doesn't let that detail infringe on his right to revamp one of the country's national dishes: sauerbraten. Though the recipe for German-style pickled pot roast has purportedly existed for a thousand years, Dieterle ditches historical accuracy and opts for lamb ribs instead. The ribs are brined overnight in garlicky red vinegar infused with juniper berries, peppercorns and bay leaves. The ribs are then braised, grilled and served with a caraway-spiked Greek yogurt sauce. It's a bold move for a bold dish from a bold chef.
Sauerbraten Lamb Ribs
Recipe adapted from Harold Dieterle, The Marrow, New York City
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes (plus 6 hours for marinating)
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons kosher salt
20 whole black peppercorns
10 whole juniper berries
2 slabs well-trimmed lamb spare ribs (6 to 8 ribs per slab)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons caraway seed, finely ground
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Brine the lamb ribs: To a large saucepan, add the water, red wine vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns and juniper berries and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the ribs in a large container and pour the hot marinade over the top. Cover the container with plastic wrap and refrigerate the ribs for at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours).
2. Preheat the oven to 300°. Transfer the ribs and marinade to a baking dish or roasting pan, cover the pan tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil, and braise until a paring knife easily slides into the meat of a rib, 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the braising liquid and set aside to cool. Once the ribs are cool, use a sharp knife to cut them between the bones into individual ribs.
3. Make the caraway yogurt: In a small bowl, add the yogurt, lemon juice, ground caraway, salt and pepper.
4. Finish the lamb ribs: Heat a large grill pan over high heat. Brush the pan with the olive oil. Once the pan is very hot, add the ribs, fatty side down, and grill until a deep golden-brown crust forms, about 4 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to flip the ribs and grill the other side until golden-brown, another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the ribs with the caraway yogurt.