Friday, February 15, 2013

Chipotle Lamb Tacos

Never heard of lamb tacos?  Neither have I.  

Garrett and I don't do much for Valentine's day, but I figured I could use the excuse to make a meal that we used to eat prior to a bout of health consciousness (tacos) and dress is up with duck carnitas.  I was excited about this idea, and my excitement was squashed by Whole Foods.  This happens often with Whole Foods.  In fact, I think I'm close to definitely saying "I hate Whole Foods."  And there it is.

I respect what those folks at Whole Foods are up to.  Sort of.  I'm sorry, but all natural and organic is mainstream these days and my neighborhood grocer offers all those options for a much lower price.  I appreciate what they're doing with precooked meals, but if you're reading this blog then I think you know where I stand on precooked meals.  I'm amazed at how authentic the tacos from the tacqueria are, but to the point at which I think there's something fishy about it.  Mostly, they just never have what I actually want (some decent corn tortillas and duck breasts, in this case).  Supposedly, and to Whole Foods' credit, fresh duck is extremely hard to come by in Chicago.  Gotta head to Chinatown.

With that I vow to blog forward with fewer complaints.*

So, anyways, lacking fresh duck I decided on a lamb shank and had no idea if this would work.  However, it was quite impossible to fail given the list of ingredients.

Thanks, Whole Foods, for helping me discover Chipotle Duck Tacos.
Ingredients (makes about 8 tacos):
  • 1 lamb shank
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small can of whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups of stock
  • 2 tbsp. mexican chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other Ingredients for Accoutrements:
  • 8 corn tortilla shells (El Milagro, please)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 onion, small dice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil  on high in a large pot or dutch oven.  Salt and pepper the lamb shank well and brown it on all sides in the pot.  Remove and set aside.
While the lamb browns, chop the onion, jalapeno, and garlic.  Once you've removed the lamb, add the mix to the remaining oil and fat.  Add the mexican chili powder, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon and allow to cook until onion is softened.  

Add the chopped chipotle peppers to the sauce and stir to combine.  Allow this to simmer down to a paste.  Add the lamb back to the pot along with the wine and stock.  Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, turning regularly.  Since I didn't have hours to really get lamb tender, I didn't braise it in the oven.  If you do have the time, transfer the covered pot to a 350 degree oven for an hour or two.  It will fall off the bone.
If you want a quicker method, after about 20 minutes of simmering remove the lamb and cut large chucks of meat off the bone.  Put the bone and meat back in the pot to continue to simmer (covered), about another 15 minutes.  Then, you can remove the meat and tear it apart with two forks.  Add that back to the sauce and allow to simmer and reduce (uncovered) until you have the consistency you like. 
As you wait for the lamb, drain and rinse the black beans.  Add them to a sauce pan with the paprika and cumin to heat and soften.  Slice the green pepper and grill in a pan.  Dice the cilantro and half onion, mix with the lemon/lime and some salt for a garnish.  Heat the tortillas on the or microwave.

Assemble and enjoy. 
Deb's recipe is awesome as is.  My only substitution was to a use a chili-infused dark chocolate instead of unsweetened (paired well with the chipotle taco).

*Speaking of both tacos and complaining, +Dave Frantonius caught me being particularly manipulative with my complaints about Big Star Tacos in the Tomatillo Chicken Chili post.  He called me out for linking to the yelp reviews purposely organized lowest to highest.  Guilty.  Still, make these tacos instead of going to Big Star.  And, make the tomatillo chicken chili - Dave loved it.

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