I came up with this recipe in order to have something to enter for this week's Spring Lamb contest. The only thing I had ever cooked with lamb before was meatballs, so I was unsure what kind of cut or what cooking method to use. I decided to adapt the classic Yucatecan dish cochinita pibil, achiote-marinated pork roasted in banana leaves, to lamb. I fused it with Mediterranean ingredients since lamb is such an important ingredient in that region of the world. The asiago-brown ale sauce was an idea I came up with when I saw the pan full of lamb drippings, onions, and achiote sauce and just couldn't let it go to waste. —clintonhillbilly
Achiote Lamb Tacos
spiced achiote paste (annato seed)
crushed garlic cloves
bottle brown ale, such as Newcastle
mustard (dijon or similar)
lime, sliced into wedges
small corn tortillas
kalamata olives, chopped
golden raisins, soaked in warm water until soft and sliced
Dissolve achiote paste in sour orange juice. Stir in cinnamon and crushed garlic. Marinate meat in achiote marinade overnight.
Remove meat from refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. Place meat with marinade in roasting pan or square lasagna pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast at 200 degrees for two hours. Season with 1/2 tsp salt.
Remove foil, raise heat to 400 degrees. Roast meat for 20 minutes or until a visible crust forms. Place large onion wedges in pan, turn over meat and place on top of onion wedges so that the side without a crust faces up. If using a rack, place onions beneath rack instead of resting meat on onions. Roast another 20 minutes, and then remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Cut lamb into small pieces.
Skim off fat from drippings. Slice onions into smaller pieces and return to pan. Pour most of a bottle of brown ale into pan, and scrape brown bits off of bottom of pan. Pour sauce and onions into a saucepan and heat over high heat until beer reduces to a thick sauce. Add two slices of asiago and stir until melted and combined. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt.
To assemble tacos, place lamb onto warmed corn tortilllas and top with a tablespoon of asiago-brown ale sauce. Add a dollop of sour cream, squeeze a wedge of lime over taco, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Place ingredients in a blender and pulse until finely chopped, chop by hand and combine.
Assemble achiote lamb tacos with 1 tbsp olive-herb salsa, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Squeeze a lime wedge over tacos before eating.