What’s cooking today: Twice-cooked whole mutton rib

What’s cooking today: Twice-cooked whole mutton rib
Tony Jackman’s whole mutton rib cooked to succulent perfection. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Invite the gang around for an evening braai, then spend the morning getting this whole mutton rib on the go, to cook slowly for two hours or more. You’ll be finishing it on the coals while you all chew the cud of life at the braai side.

Your Daily Maverick Karoo writers, all four of us, sat down at our Cradock kitchen table to enjoy these ribs, and when we saw our invited friends at their place days later they were still praising it for its … how to put this modestly? … I seem to recall words like succulence and perfection. Something like that. 

But look, Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit know their stuff, and have become firm friends of The Foodie’s Wife Diane Cassere and myself over the last nine years. It would be churlish of me to argue with their esteemed judgement.

So you might want to get your own gang around this weekend and have a go yourself at this recipe. From my own point of view, I have turned out less than perfect ribs in the past, so I don’t always get it right. But I was very happy with this rib. 

If you start in the morning, you can have this chunky rib of mutton beautifully tender by mid-afternoon. It cooks slowly in the oven first, in a lake of lamb stock, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic and rosemary. Then it rests in its juices until it has cooled to room temperature. It can sit on the stovetop, covered, until it’s time to braai it when your guests are hanging around the braai with a libation or three.

Finally, a baste of mustard, balsamic reduction, Worcestershire sauce and soy is brushed all over it and the cooled rib is cooked over hot coals for the fat to turn wonderfully golden and crisp.

(Serves 4)


1 whole mutton rib, scored deep at the thickest end

Olive oil

1.5 litres lamb stock (or enough to cover the meat)

3 fat garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

Fresh rosemary sprigs

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

Juice and zest of 2 ripe lemons

½ cup soy sauce

Kalahari salt

Black pepper

For the baste:

⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp hot English mustard

Balsamic reduction

A touch of dark soy sauce


Preheat the oven to 200℃.

Score the rib in several places, about 3 cm apart, on the fat side. Try to line the scoring up to match the bones. Cut deeper at the thick, fatty end.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a flat, heavy pan big enough to fit the whole rib. Season the meat with Kalahari salt and black pepper.

Brown the fat side of the rib well, and give the other side a bit of hot love too.

Turn the heat off.

In a large jug or bowl, mix together the lamb stock, garlic, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and zest, and soy sauce.

Pour this over the mutton rib and make sure it is immersed in the cooking stock.

Put it in the preheated 200℃ oven. After 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 160℃ or so and let it cook gently until the meat is tender but not falling apart. About two to two-and-a-half hours should secure this result. You want it to be tender but not falling off the bones; it needs to be intact and manageable for finishing on hot coals later.

Leave the rib to cool in the cooking stock. Keep the stock itself to use as a sauce later. If you’re only finishing the joint several hours later, refrigerate it for a while, but be sure to remove it from the fridge and bring it back to room temperature an hour and a half before braaing. Strain the cooking stock into a saucepan and reduce down to thicken.  DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

This dish is photographed on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Sounds perfect! I do it slightly differently. Cook very fatty ribs it in kettle/Weber over slow coals for about 2.5 hours. (Be sure to have a pan collecting the excess fat; it’s a lot!) Cool in fridge and slice into thick ribs. (If not cooled, it’s very difficult to cut.) Braai to a crisp exterior. The inside stays moist & wonderful. I will definitely try the oven.

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