Barbacoa! When I hear the word barbacoa, I instantly think of mom and dad. The countless hours, effort and time they dedicated to make a better life for their large family of eight kids. I always refer to my dad, Ramiro, as the Mexican MacGyver, lol! He could do anything in my eyes. My forever hero. Blanca, my mom, was his wife, partner, co-pilot, secretary, confidant and all around best mom ever! What does lamb barbacoa have to do with my parents? Nothing and everything! Lamb was not something I grew up with, to be honest. Beef! Beef barbacoa is what I love and still prepare to this day. Although the beef is more popular in Northern region of Mexico, lamb and goat is popular and traditional in other regions of Mexico.
So Why Lamb If You Grew Up With Beef?
I will admit, I was a bit intimidated to cook a whole lot of lamb like this for the first time. My good friends, who are from different regions of Mexico rave about traditional lamb barbacoa all the time. Of course this is not how authentic and traditional lamb barbacoa is prepared. I don’t have an oven in ground with maguey leaves and all that. But, it will never stop me from attempting to recreate the flavors in my own kitchen. This is where my parents come into play! Their influence on me, hard working, never say never attitude is how I face life’s challenges. If you never try, you will never know, right? This first time lamb barbacoa was delicious and my friends were very happy. Of course there were homemade tortillas, salsas and fresh garnishes! The works! After spending all that time prepping the lamb, do it up right!
How About That Consommé???
The first night that I served the barbacoa, I was just so excited to enjoy those tacos with warm, fresh corn tortillas, I forgot all about the consommé! Second day, I warmed up a big bowl of consommé, added some barbacoa with all the garnishes! It was so tasty and comforting. Now, here comes the honest part of cooking lamb. You must enjoy it the first and second day. After that, the flavor changes slightly. It’s a bit more gamey, as they say. Doesn’t bother some, but I don’t prefer those flavors. Luckily, I shared some with friends and froze some of it too. Can’t wait to try this same recipe with beef, pork and even a whole chicken in pieces. That consommé willl be delicious! Some of the ingredients added in the consommé are traditional, like the garbanzo beans, rice, herbs, carrot and dried chiles according to my good friend from Mexico. You definitely could try some different ingredients there too, like adding some chayote squash, beans sounds good too!
Let’s Get To The Recipe!!
I know some of you may thinking, who has all those pots and steamer inserts? Lol! Next time, I will just use my large steamer pot. Add all the ingredients for the consommé on the bottom with water. Place the meat nestled in banana leaves and steam away. The idea to place the pot in the middle came from a video on YouTube, but I didn’t really find it necessary after the fact. In fact, I have cooked beef cheek barbacoa just like this. My parents used to steam it this way when they had their Mexican restaurant in Houston back in the day. So, see, they are still with me even though they are not here physically for many years now. Challenge yourself!
To see my choices of salsas and pickled red onions, click onto the titles above!
The Consommé Before Straining
Almost Ready To Enjoy!
Going In With That Warm Tortilla!
The Perfect Bite!!!
Barbacoa de Borrego. Lamb Borrego
- Large Steamer Pot with insert holds about 2 gallons of water
- smaller pot that fits in steamer pot heat proof
- another large steamer insert that is collapsible
- 10-12 fresh banana leaves sections roughly about 24 inches long each section
- 6 1/2- 7 lbs boneless leg of lamb sliced into 8-10 pieces
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 3-5 sprigs Fresh cilantro
- 3-4 sprigs Fresh mint
- 3-4 sprigs Fresh oregano
- 5-6 fresh epazote leaves
- 3 chile morita stems removed, if any
- 3 chile guajillo stems and seeds removed
- 3 Chile de arbol stems removed
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 head whole bulb garlic minced
- 1/2 lb garbanzo beans, previously soaked overnight
- 1/2 c uncooked rice
- 3/4 tsp dried marjoram
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
Garnish and Plating
- Salsa Macha, Salsa Roja, Salsa Verde see links
- Warm corn tortillas see link
How To Prepare Banana Leaves
- Preheat a large flat griddle to medium for a few minutes.
- Once the griddle is very hot, lay one leaf at a time on hot surface. Using a metal spatula, press against hot griddle. You will see the banana leaf start to change color and become shiny on one side. Move it along the hot surface pressing as needed until the entire surface has softened and changed color. Set leaves aside.
For Lamb Barbacoa
- After slicing the leg of lamb, transfer to a colander. Rinse well under cold water. Set aside.
- Fill the bottom of large steamer pot to where the line indicates. Add steamer insert. Insert smaller heat proof pot. Add in all of the ingredients listed for consome. Fill with water 3/4 of the way up. Place the second steamer insert to sit on top of pot with consome ingredients.
- Tuck the prepared banana leaves around the inside edge of pot, so they will overlap and be long enough to fold over onto the meat once in place. Place all the meat in the center. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Fold all the banana leaves in to cover the meat very well. Place lid securely on the pot.
- Turn heat to high. Once it begins to steam rapidly. Reduce the heat to below medium. You will continue to cook for 4 hours or until the lamb is fall apart tender. Check after 4 hours.
- Once the barbacoa is tender, transfer all of the meat to a covered dish. You can keep it warm in a low temperature oven.
- Discard the banana leaves. Carefully remove the pot from the center with all the consome ingredients. Remove the herbs and dried chiles discard. Combine the remaining broth on the bottom of large pot with all the in ingredients in smaller pot(with garbanzos, carrots and rice). Keep warm on low.
- Bowl Of Barbacoa. Ladle some of the consome into shallow bowls. Add some of the lamb barbacoa. Garnish with onion, cilantro, radish, lime and serrano chiles. Serve with warm corn tortillas.
- For Tacos: Serve the lamb barbacoa with your favorite salsa recipes, onion, cilantro, radishes, lime and avocado. Don't forget the warm homemade corn tortillas.