Slow Cooker

Chipotle Braised Lamb Tacos with Balsamic-Soaked Raisins

June  8, 2011
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 3
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. —Victoria Ross

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • wayne
  • wordridden
  • Rebecca Cherry
    Rebecca Cherry
  • sheila356
  • JanetRoss

Recipe by: clintonhillbilly

public interest attorney

35 Reviews

AOB December 17, 2018
This was fantastic! Served with roasted sweet potatoes and onions. Followed recipe. Highly recommend.
N V. September 28, 2018
This was really incredible. Good enough for company just about any time. I used lamb stew meat which did not shred very well. I ended up removing the meat from the gravy and chopping it finely. Stir the remaining syrup from the balsamic vinegar into the gravy. It rounds it out beautifully. I added finely julienned radishes and some grated queso fresco for extra topping alternatives. Make this two days ahead and then just reheat. Just don't let anyone taste it because it won't last until you plan to use it if you do.
ChefGam September 11, 2018
I just discovered this recipe when I saw a similar recipe in a Sun-Maid raisin ad. I wonder how it would taste as a topping for hummus with pita to scoop up all the deliciousness.
judy June 1, 2017
Well, made this over the weekend. It was really good. Only thing I did differently was reduce broth to one cup. And that ws plenty. Still plenty of liquid that i ahd to reduce down. I can't imagine using the full 3 cups. After a couple of great meals, we still had a little left over. Put it into an omelette and served with sour cream. What a great breakfast. This will go into a regular rotation. Thank you so much. This is the second of your wonderful recipes that my famliy and I have enjoyed (rhubarb bar-b-que pork was the other). I'll have to wrk my way through the rest. I am sure they will be as good as theses two.
Audrey July 3, 2019
I use all the liquid, and a few days later, it’s amazing when thickened with a bit of sour cream and paired with pappardelle
Lola July 26, 2015
Made it with ground lamb for a quick(er) Sunday night dinner. Fabuloso, even with tumeric and paprika substituting for annato.
wayne June 4, 2015
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 !
Chris G. February 7, 2015
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.
clintonhillbilly February 7, 2015
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.
wordridden January 30, 2015
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!
Stew D. February 24, 2014
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.
Rebecca C. January 17, 2014
Oops...forgot...roasted sweet potatoes bites are a wonderful accompaniment!
Rebecca C. January 17, 2014
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.
sarah September 28, 2013
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!
sheila356 August 7, 2013
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!
clintonhillbilly August 7, 2013
Yay, thanks for posting such a nice comment- it always brightens my day :)
JanetRoss May 24, 2013
These tacos were outstanding, especially with double the amount of balsamic-soaked raisins and fewer olives. Definitely a keeper!
Vstarr71 May 22, 2013
Making this tomorrow! Can't wait!
BakerRB May 22, 2013
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.
SaltPepper May 22, 2013
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.
mngirlinnorcal May 21, 2013
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.
gormetgrl May 19, 2013
Are there any suggestions for a nice appetizer and a vegetable that would go nicely.
clintonhillbilly May 20, 2013
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:
clintonhillbilly May 14, 2013
You are welcome, thanks for making it!