Slow Cook

Chipotle Braised Lamb Tacos with Balsamic-Soaked Raisins

June  8, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • Serves 3
Ingredients
  • 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

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Review
I'm an avid Iron Chef watcher, cookbook enthusiast and dedicated cook. So is my partner, and when we have dinner parties we go completely insane. Our dinners involve lots of wine and lots of vegetarian fare. My favorite cuisine is Mexican, and anything bordering the Mediterranean Sea is tied for second. I just started a blog called Lunchimal! It's all about making lunch for $5 or less from organic, sustainable, local ingredients. Check it out! http://lunchimal.blogspot.com/