This juicy and tender lamb barbacoa is packed with robust flavors from chiles and spices – the best part is that most of the work gets done with your slow cooker!
This post is sponsored by Negra Modelo USA. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently got to hang out with Rick Bayless. Ok, so maybe hang out isn’t the exact right term, but meet and say a few awkward sentences is more like it. Either way it was the start of a pretty sweet evening.
The folks over at Negra Modelo USA were kind enough to invite me to attend their event featuring Rick Bayless here in Phoenix. As a girl who loves food and beer (and cooking shows…and has a slight obsession with cookbooks) this was bound to be a fun night. Rick Bayless teamed up with local Chef Michael Cairns to cook some food and show us a little about how bold Mexican flavors are the perfect compliment to beer like Negra Modelo.
Throughout the evening – with a beer in hand – we were treated to some tasty and inventive dishes, great entertainment and tons of helpful kitchen tips. Did you know that you should rinse raw onions before serving? It helps take away the harsh, pungent flavor. I’ll be putting that little gem to use for sure!
Chef Bayless made the dish that stole the show for me (which I happen to have right here, so you can make it at home!). His lamb barbacoa tacos were exceptional – tender and juicy shredded meat that was seasoned with the most delicious array of chiles and spices. My quick Instagram photo doesn’t quite do it justice!
I ended up getting my hands on the recipe and I can’t wait to try this one at home – Rick says it’s fantastic for entertaining. Don’t be worried, I know the recipe looks a little daunting at first glance, but he went through it for us and its easier than you think. Brown the meat, whip up the marinade in a blender then add it all to your slow cooker – 6 hours later you have taco heaven!
- A 12-inch chunk of an agave leaf (penca de maguey) or 1 large banana leaf, optional
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder
- 1 12-ounce bottle of Negra Modelo
- 2 guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
- 2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- Your favorite hot sauce or salsa
- A little chopped white onion
- A handful of cilantro leaves
- Roast the agave leaf (being careful not to touch the exposed flesh of the agave) over an open flame, turning every few minutes until pliable and charred, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. (If using a banana leaf, run it briefly over an open flame to soften it.) Cut into 3 pieces.
- In the stovetop-safe insert of your slow cooker or in a very large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel, sprinkle generously with salt and lay it in the insert or skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until richly brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Fit the insert into the machine or transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender with 2 cups of water and blend to a smooth puree. Pour through a medium mesh strainer into the slow cooker. Nestle the pieces of agave leaf or banana leaf under and around the meat, if you are using them. Cover and turn on the slow cooker to high. Your barbacoa will be done in about 6 hours, though you can hold it for longer. (My slow-cooker can be programmed to switch from high after 6 hours to a “keep warm” temperature for up to another 6 hours. Some slow cookers click to “keep warm” automatically; others need to be switched manually.)
- When you are ready to serve, coarsely shred the lamb and arrange it on a warm platter. Skim any fat from the sauce that remains in the slow cooker, and then taste it. If you feel it would be better with a more concentrated flavor, pour it into a medium saucepan or remove the insert and set it over high heat. Boil for a few minutes to reduce that quantity, then taste and season with salt if it needs it. Spoon as much as you like over the lamb or beef. (I like to sprinkle coarse salt over the meat at this point.) Serve the barbacoa with the hot sauce or salsa, onion and cilantro. Grab some tortillas, if you like, and you’re ready to make some delicious tacos.
To find out more about how Negra Modelo is the #perfectcomplement and to get more tasty Rick Bayless recipes like this one, visit the Negra Modelo USA website, or you can visit them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Negra Modelo USA. I attended the Negra Modelo event in Phoenix and was compensated for my time, promotion and to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are all my own.