Monday 9 September 2013

Pulled Lamb Tacos with Charred Chile-Lime Corn

When I think I want authentic Mexican food, I always turn to my copy of Rick Bayless' "Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico".  I say "think" in terms of my authentic Mexican cravings as it would appear I'm more used to Tex-Mex.  I was going to make some enchiladas a couple of weeks ago and looked up his recipe for Red-Chile Enchiladas with Cheese and Vegetables.  Sounds pretty typical, right?  Well ... the authentic filling for a veggie enchilada is carrots and potatoes.  Yech!  So yeah, Tex-Mex beans, onions and peppers sound a lot more appetizing.

But I still went for the Bayless reference when I wanted to make lamb tacos.  Lots of recipes for pulled pork on the ol' world wide web and a handful for lamb.  But not quite what I was looking for.   So this is partly based on his recipe for Slow-Steamed Goat with Mild Chile Seasoning.  Actually, the marinade is pretty much his.  But I kicked up the heat with some thai chiles.  The types of chile peppers I used were based on what I had in the house.  Feel free to use your own combination of dried chiles ...

For the Pulled Lamb:
3-4 pound bone-in lamb shoulder
5 dried, smoked Anaheim chilies
4 dried Thai red chilies
1 Ancho Chili (a dried poblano chili)
2 large garlic cloves, not peeled
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp each ground pepper, salt and ground cumin
4 tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 can lager

Pour boiling water over the dried chilies to rehydrate.  Cover with a plate to keep them under water and leave aside about 30 minutes.  In a food processor, mince the garlic first.  Then add the vinegar, pepper, salt and cumin.  When peppers are rehydrated, remove seeds and stem (reserve the liquid).  Add to food processor.  Cover the lamb shoulder in this marinade and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Wipe off marinade and reserve for later.  In a hot pan, sear the fat side of the lamb shoulder, then place in a slow cooker, with the tomatoes, onions and beer.  It should take about 6 hours total (I've seen recipes that say 2 hours, but that is not enough!).

About 4 hours into the cooking, place the lamb shoulder on a plate. At this point, the meat should come off the bone without too much effort.  Remove the meat in chunks and return to the braising liquid.  Check seasoning.  If you want it spicier, add the reserved pepper marinade and/or the reserved liquid from rehydrating the peppers (I added the marinade, but not the liquid).  If too spicy, add more tomatoes.

When ready to serve, use two forks to "pull" the lamb into shreds.  Serve with corn tortillas, charred corn, pico de gallo, and your favourite taco fixings.  I also made a black bean and mango salad that went well with it all!

Charred Chile-Lime Corn

The corn was a bit of an afterthought but I am sooooo glad I made it.  It is delicious!!  It can be used as a side dish or as a topping for the taco.

Combine 3 Tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp honey, the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt.  Cook 6 cobs of corn for only 2 minutes in boiling water. Remove from water.   Brush with the chile-lime butter, then grill until lightly charred on all sides.  Remove corn from cob and serve warm.

And a yummy mixed taco bowl for leftovers the next day!

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