The least expensive cut of lamb, the breast, is a Cinderella of meats. You can turn one lamb breast into two dishes: a humble but delicious bean soup, and beautiful barbecued lamb ribs. Buy a whole breast of lamb. It is usually wrapped in supermarkets with the meaty part under the ribs.
Wash 1 pound great northern beans under running water. Bring to a boil 5 cups water and the beans. Let boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Wash the breast of lamb under running water. Dry.
Cut breast into two parts -- the rib portion and the meaty portion (allow about 1/2 inch meat around rib bones). You will be using the lamb as broth for the soup. The meat itself can be served separately.
Cut into quarters 2 carots, 1 large onion and 1 celery stalk with leaves.
Put both the lamb ribs and the meaty portion, the vegetables, 6 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon salt into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low. Simmer until lamb is done, at least 1 hour. Remove the lamb and vegetables; set aside to cool. The vegetables can be discarded or pureed for a vegetable dish.
Strain the lamb broth through a strainer or cheesecloth. You should have about 5 cups broth. Put into a large kettle. Add 1 can (12 ounces) chicken broth; 2 medium potatoes, cut in half; 1 large carrot, finely chopped; 3 small onions, quartered, and 2 stalks celery, diced. Add the soaked beans and any remaining soaking water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low. Cover.
Simmer at least 1 hour until the beans are soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Cook 5 minutes more.
Push 2 cups of the beans and the potatoes through a food mill or a strainer. Stir back into the soup to thinken it. Bring back to a boil when ready to eat. If desired, the meaty lamb portion can be cut into chunks and added to the soup. It can also be sliced and served as an entree.
BARBECUED LAMB RIBS
Save the cooked ribs in the refrigerator for two days or less, and then use them for a quick hearty barbecued ribs dinner. Preheat the broiler. Cut the ready-cooked lamb ribs into separate sections. Remove as much fat as you can. Place the ribs on a shallow broiling pan or a cookie sheet.
Spoon your favorite homemade or prepared barbecue sauce on top of each rib. Put as close to the broiling unit as possible. Broil the lamb ribs until beautifully browned, about 5 minutes. With tongs turn the lamb over, spoon barbecue sauce on and brown for 3 minutes.