Citrusy Lamb Barbacoa

Sometimes good things don’t have to come to an end. Carolyn and I were quite happy to hear from the Tri-Lamb Group that the Lamb Supper Club was going to continue and they were going to up the ante by adding a contest! This time, instead of providing us with a seasonal recipe, lamb and the necessary ingredients, they just sent us lamb and armed us with a $50 gift card. The challenge was to come up with an original, quick and healthy lamb recipe that was easy to prepare. The blogger with the best recipe wins an iPad! Game on!

We quickly called up our Lamb Crew and they were in, naturally. Due to travels it took a while to lock in a date, but that meant more time to craft the ultimate recipe. I present to you the Lamb Barbacoa Taco!

I know Mexican food may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think Lamb, but trust us on this one, it should be. The flavor of lamb falls nicely in between the more traditional pork and beef, and holds up well against the range of flavors you find in Mexican cooking.

Barbacoa is also a great preparation style for the boneless leg of lamb we were sent for the contest. Traditional Barbacoa is cooked in a pit, and wrapped in leaves. My recipe is closer to a slow braise, but the result is the same; tender, flavorful, morsels of meat. It is also very healthy. The long, slow cooking render the fat from the meat and breaks down the connective tissue.

Half the fun of having a Lamb Barbacoa Taco party is that each guest gets to customize their taco. The Lamb Crew of course went above and beyond and made everything from slaw, to mango salsa, to pickled red onions–even a batch of these amazing pickled zucchini! I will post about those next and include a bonus recipe for making Carnitas style lamb. While we used more traditional corn tortillas, you can use whole wheat ones if you are looking to be extra healthy.

There are two different cooking methods for this recipe–cooking the lamb in the stove in a dutch oven or using a crockpot. If you are using the crockpot, it is still good to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start to rapidly boil. The aim is a nice slow braise that is just below a simmer.

Citrusy Lamb Barbacoa

From: Luke Berndt
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb (roughly 3-5 pounds)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro (roughly half a bunch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Zest and juice from two limes
  • 2 chipotle peppers, plus adobe sauce from can
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F and adjust rack to the lower middle portion of the oven.
  2. Cut the lamb into 2 inch pieces, removing any large portions of fat. There is no need to remove all of the fat, it will render during the cooking.
  3. In a food processor or blender, add all of the other ingredients, except the chicken broth, and blend until combined. If you don't have either, simply finely chop all of the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the lamb and blended ingredients to a dutch oven. Add the chicken broth until it just covers the lamb. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to add a little water.
  5. Cover the dutch oven and place it in your warmed oven. Cook for 4 hours or until the lamb is tender and can be separated with a fork.
  6. Remove the lamb from the cooking liquid and transfer to a baking sheet. After letting it cool for 5 minutes, use two forks to shred the lamb. When finished place in a serving bowl.
  7. If you have a gravy separator, pour the cooking liquid into it. If not, try to spoon any fat off of the cooking liquid. Slowly add some of the "defatted" cooking liquid back into the shredded lamb until it stops holding it.
  8. Keep the lamb warm and serve with tortillas and your choice of taco toppings.
Alternate Crockpot Directions
  1. Instead of using an dutch oven, cook the lamb in a crockpot. Cook it on High for 4 hours or until the lamb is tender. If it begins to rapidly boil, turn the crockpot down to low or warm.


3 thoughts on “Citrusy Lamb Barbacoa

  1. Pingback: Lamb Chops = An Easy Easter

  2. Pingback: Lamb Carnitas Tacos

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