A Glutton for Mutton

I’m tired of wimpy food writing that places more emphasis on manners than good old-fashioned feasting. So while my usual fare is effete food writers and chefs with tame recipes for goat cheese ravioli or, heaven forfend, vegetarian dishes, I’ve left my heart in Billings, Montana, where food writer Chef Boy Ari visits a sheep farm that used to grow sprouts.

“We didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables,” the sheep farmer explains. Don’t call him anti-environmentalist, though. Farmer Dan sells his lamb at the Clark Fork River Farmer’s Market. ““It’s not just about cutting out the middleman,” Dan says. “It’s about making people aware of the agriculture going on in their neighborhoods, and keeping the dollars local.”

He gifts Chef Boy Ari with a pack of lamb ribs, inspiring the writer to go to town:

When I put the ribs on the grill, I saw no shortage of fat on them. I let them sizzle and sputter until the outside was a crisp brown, seasoned them with salt and pepper and dove in. If the expression “chewing the fat” has any grounding in a literal act, this could be it. My teeth made little headway. My face got covered in grease. But my mouth couldn’t stop eating. The ribs tasted too damn good.