More Lamb

April 18-April 24, 2022

 

Monday:                   Lamb Bolognese with Pappardelle

Tuesday:                   Spring Pea Salad with Jamon, Mustard Vinaigrette and Hazel Nuts

Wednesday:            Lamb Chili Colorado Tacos

Thursday:                 Fennel and Pasta Gratin

Friday:                       Drunken Shrimp with Tequila and Royal Rice

Saturday:                  Pizza from Messina’s, Allison Park

Sunday:                     Leftover Rice and Shrimp

Once again, I find it necessary to apologize for the hiatus in our blog postings.  This time it was occasioned by recovery from a minor surgery.  If I can avoid the lobotomy that some of my doctors and most of my family think would be useful, I’ll try not to skip a post for the rest of the year.

Peace isn’t that complicated – when the lion eats the lamb and wipes his lips, then there’s peace.’

  • An egregious misquoting of Abbie Hoffman who actually said that peace is complicated and that he’s not for the kind of peace where the lion eats the lamb and then licks his lips. But hey, he was just a kid at the time and probably didn’t know how to cook.

When you have cooked a 7 lb. leg of lamb (our Easter meal featured in the previous posting), you will not finish it at the first sitting, unless you’ve invited the entire population of Mexico City.  The question then, given the price of meat and the quality of the meal, is what to do with the leftovers.  Our first move was to take our French technique lamb over the border to Italy and make a wonderful ragù.  But later in the week we made a complete left turn and went from elegant French to savory Mexican tacos.  This third coming of the lamb – apologies to all fellow Catholics – was even tastier than the first two.

I’ll admit to hitting on the idea of tacos before I found a recipe.  In fact, I had planned to make beef chili Colorado tacos, since the beef would cook in a spicy sauce for several hours, making it incredibly tender and savory.  But we had all of this lamb, already cooked, tender and savory.  What to do?

Well – I took a while creating the braise – a guajillo chili heavy peppery broth.  Warming the shredded lamb in this, as Billy and Beez can attest, created the taco of the year so far. You could make these tacos with beef or pork or lamb.  And you certainly don’t need a whole leg of lamb, though that would be spectacular.  You could do a long braise with a shoulder of lamb, or just cube some lamb from a butterflied leg and cut down the cooking time.  Pork tenderloin would also cook quickly, as would ground beef.

Whatever you do, by all means make this sauce, heat and braise something in it, spoon it into some warm tortillas, and dig in.  Note:  we added some homemade pico de gallo, salted onions, fried onions for crunch and micro greens.

Lamb Chili Colorado Tacos

(loosely adapted from Milk Street magazines recipe, May-June, 2022)

Timing:

About 1 hour if using cooked lamb – 2 plus hours if using uncooked beef or lamb shoulder.

Ingredients: Serves 4 or, if using the larger amount of raw meat, 8-10.

Approximately 1 pound of cooked lamb leg or shoulder, shredded.  If using uncooked beef or lamb – maybe 2 ½  lbs.

6 medium guajillo chilies (these are those mahogany-colored dried chiles), stemmed, seeded and roughly torn.  (12, if you’re doing the long braise with uncooked meat)

2 garlic cloves smashed and peeled (4, if using the long braise)

1 teaspoon oregano (Mexican oregano is best for this recipe and Badia, the most common brand, is much cheaper than American dried oregano)

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

½ yellow onion divided:  ¼ roughly, ¼ finely chopped

2 bay leaves

Warmed flour tortillas to serve

¼ cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped.

[Note:  If using the larger quantity of raw meat – cut into bite size pieces, dredge in flour and brown in neutral oil for ten minutes or so until well-browned.  Also, double the onion and garlic]

Prep:

Shred the pre-cooked meat

Chop the onions

Smash and peel the garlic

Stem and seed the chiles

Prep the cilantro

Create the braise:  Combine the chilies with enough water to cover by about 1 inch.  Bring to a boil over medium-high, pressing the chiles down to submerge them.  Remove from heat and let stand until chiles are softened – about 20 minutes.  Drain the chiles, discarding the water and put them in a blender along with the garlic, oregano, cumin, 2 cups of water (or 4, if using 12 chiles), and ¾ teaspoon of salt (or 1 ½ teaspoon if using 12 chiles).  Blend until smooth – maybe 2 minutes – and set aside.

Cook the Lamb Colorado:

[Note:  if using the raw meat which you have now browned, pour off the fat from the Dutch oven or skillet you used for the browning.]

Pour the chile purée into a large skillet or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir in the roughly chopped onion and bay leaves, then add the lamb and any accumulated juices.  Return to a simmer, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring from time to time for 30 minutes.  Keep at a vigorous simmer.  Turn off the heat.

Warm the tortillas and fill with the lamb, add some finely chopped onion and cilantro and enjoy.

{Note:  If you’ve cooked the raw meat, you’ll need to shred it before serving.)

Red beans and rice a would be a nice accompaniment.

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