Chipotle Braised Lamb Tacos with Balsamic-Soaked Raisins

By • June 8, 2011 31 Comments

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Author Notes: Like many stews, this meat is great right from the pot but even better the next day. The lamb retains its flavor but its gaminess is muted by the achiote marinade, and the slow braise in a chipotle broth gives it a nice tender texture, as well as heat, smoke, and chili flavor. I've used store-bought achiote paste in the past when making similar dishes, but this time all I could get was ground annato seed, so I made my own. You can use a store-bought paste if you can find one. The broth reduces in the last half hour of cooking, and the resulting taco is a warm corn tortilla filled with tender lamb in a rich red chile sauce, the subtle briny flavor of chopped olives, a kick of freshness from the lime juice, and a sweet and sour element from the reduced balsamic-soaked raisins. With cool sour cream to top it off, it's a succulent, delectable taco. clintonhillbilly

Food52 Review: Clintonhillbilly was 100% right when calling this a "succulent, delectable taco". It was absolutely delicious -- so much so that I virtually licked the pot clean. The paste was exceptionally easy to make, as was the rest of the recipe -- super quick and well-written. There was a lot of sauce compared to meat, and it took a fair bit of time to reduce the liquid appropriately -- next time I might use more meat or halve the sauce ingredients. The 'salsa' was so interesting with the olives and balsamic soaked raisins. It was such a lovely sweet and sour combination, and the sour cream cut through the fatty gaminess of the lamb. This would also be great with beef and pork.thehappycook

Serves 3

Braised Lamb

  • 2 tablespoons ground annato seed
  • 1 tablespoon orange or tangerine juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or cider)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles
  • 1 pound lamb stew meat, in 2-inch pieces
  • 2 chipotles in adobo
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 corn tortillas

Balsamic raisins (and other toppings)

  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped white onion
  • 1/3 cup green olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Lime juice to taste (1/2 to 1 lime)
  • Sour cream
  1. Mix together first 12 ingredients to form a paste. Rub into lamb and marinate overnight, or for about eight hours.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and sear lamb meat. As lamb browns, add chopped onions and sauté.
  3. In a food processor, blend vegetable broth with chipotles. Add the liquid to the pan, then add bay leaves.
  4. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low heat for an hour.
  5. Remove cover and cook another thirty minutes or so, until liquid reduces to a sauce and lamb is very tender.
  6. Shred lamb into sauce with a fork.
  7. While the lamb is cooking, put raisins and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat, then reduce to low and simmer until balsamic is reduced by at least half and raisin are plumped.
  8. Remove raisins with a slotted spoon, letting the reduced balsamic drip out, and put them in a bowl with the olives, cilantro, chopped onion, and lime juice.
  9. Heat each corn tortilla in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil, and top with a couple of good spoonfuls of meat, a spoonful of the toppings, and a dollop of sour cream.

More Great Recipes: Tacos|Lamb|Entrees|Sandwiches|Snacks

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Comments (31) Questions (0)


about 1 month ago Lola

Made it with ground lamb for a quick(er) Sunday night dinner. Fabuloso, even with tumeric and paprika substituting for annato.


3 months ago wayne

I made this following the recipe to the letter, not all ingredients were readily available in the UK but definitely worth the effort of tracking them down. Will absolutely be making this again ,and again ,and again !


7 months ago Chris Glenn

I live near and "H-Mart" which carries Achiote Rojo spice paste in a 3.5 oz. container, by the Marquez Brothers/brand name "EL Mexicano." I'm guessing that's pretty much equivalent to your spice paste(?) If I use that do I need to add anything else? Thanks
Chris Glenn, Lynnwood WA.


7 months ago clintonhillbilly

Hi Chris, the store bought paste is fine. You have to add liquid to it -- the package will have instructions. I recommend using oj and lime juice.


7 months ago wordridden

This was delicious. I used a pound of diced lamb shoulder and started with a cup and a half of broth, which I topped up as needed as the lamb cooked. The raisin and olive salsa is the perfect accompaniment. Definitely a keeper!


over 1 year ago Stew Dietz

Make sure to include margaritas to wash down these tasty tacos! I used a local lamb arm roast, bone-in and served mine on corn tortillas, fresh salsa, grilled cabbage, cilantro & roasted squash cubed.


over 1 year ago Rebecca Cherry

Oops...forgot...roasted sweet potatoes bites are a wonderful accompaniment!


over 1 year ago Rebecca Cherry

Lots to say about these tasty; just thought my trials and error could lend helpful hints to the instructions. Definitely halving the broth for 1-1.5 pounds of meat. I think even 2 pounds could have worked with 1 1/2 cups broth. The same for the raisins - 1/4 cup got me 2 tablespoons deliciously soaked raisins in half the time and with less yummy balsamic reduction to figure out how to use (I poured it on vanilla ice cream). Also, rinsing the olives beforehand leaves less salt overpowering the unique and delicious salsa. And, the kick in the sauce seemed to mellow for the next day's leftovers.


almost 2 years ago sarah

Rich and spicy! Family wolfed down the lamb. Used 1.5 pounds meat for 4 meals and cut broth amount in half per Comment Chorus. Son would prob report me to CPS if I tried to put raisins on his taco so I didn't even bother with the relish but it was still cray delish & I'll be making it again vv soon. Thank you!


about 2 years ago sheila356

Absolutely wonderful. I used a 2 pound chuck roast cut into large chunks and after simmering for a couple hours I removed it and reduced the liquid to a nice sauce. The "relish" topping could not have been nicer. Oh, it's a keeper!


about 2 years ago clintonhillbilly

Yay, thanks for posting such a nice comment- it always brightens my day :)


over 2 years ago JanetRoss

These tacos were outstanding, especially with double the amount of balsamic-soaked raisins and fewer olives. Definitely a keeper!


over 2 years ago Vstarr71

Making this tomorrow! Can't wait!


over 2 years ago BakerRB

Enjoyed this a lot. Could easily double the meat and have plenty of sauce and seasoning. Added a couple roughly chopped zucchini toward end of cooking as a side dish. Removed meat and veg and boiled down sauce to thicken it up and coat better.


over 2 years ago SaltPepper

Delicious. Doubled the recipe but used just under 4 cups of broth. Could have used even less broth. Huge hit! Will be making it again.


over 2 years ago mngirlinnorcal

Made this yesterday and what a fabulous recipe! I tripled the recipe but didn't triple the chipotle peppers. Scared of to much heat. But I could gave added a bit more. Only added 2 instead of the 6. Served with broccoli slaw.


over 2 years ago gormetgrl

Are there any suggestions for a nice appetizer and a vegetable that would go nicely.


over 2 years ago clintonhillbilly

For a vegetable that would go well, I would suggest corn on the cob. Here is a recipe from thirschfeld that I haven't personally tried, but it looks legit: For an appetizer a melon salad would be nice--I'd suggest melon with panela cheese or french feta, a squeeze of lime, some salt, and torn fresh basil or mint. And although you didn't ask about dessert, I do think these popsicles would be a nice one:


over 2 years ago clintonhillbilly

You are welcome, thanks for making it!


over 2 years ago loubaby

These were fabulous; we loved them..couldn't really tell they were lamb..not good or bad, but we were really happy eating them. Thanks for the recipe.


over 2 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks fantastic!! Congrats on the CP!!


over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Wow, love how you used lamb and raisins in a new way and cannot wait to give it atry.


over 2 years ago clintonhillbilly

Thanks to thehappycook for reviewing my recipe, and thanks for taking a really good photo!