I was extremely excited to receive the 3rd item for the Charleston Food & Wine Lambs and Clams contest, which was a beautiful whole shoulder of lamb from Border Springs Farm. When I opened the package, I was surprised and elated to find that in addition to the shoulder, the meat included the first 3 ribs, with the tail end of the loin attached. While I was contemplating what to do with the shoulder, I cut off the loin and seared it in a pan very simply with salt, pepper, rosemary, and butter. The lamb, of course, was exquisite – extremely tender, with a rich flavor. The quality of ingredients we’ve got for these challenges are top notch, and this lamb was certainly some of the best I’ve had.
So, after I finished eating this piece of loin (and drank a few glasses of wine!), I got to thinking about the shoulder. Although it’s a very flavorful cut of meat, it’s also incredibly tough. This isn’t a cut to sear and eat medium rare. I’ve cooked with shoulder several times, and have always de-boned the shoulder, cut it into cubes, and put it through the meat grinder to make my favorite sausage of all time merguez. Alas, that didn’t seem like the best plan as it was around 8:30 PM (especially after all that wine).
After some contemplation, I decided to rub down the shoulder in a flavorful wet rub and roast it in the oven at 180 degrees for the better part of a day. In my fridge, I had a bunch of chipotle and cilantro stems, and subsequently went into a Mexican version. Because, who doesn’t love tacos, especially when made with spicy lamb? In addition to chipotle and cilantro, I added cumin seeds, coriander seeds, lime zest and juice, olive oil, a little bit of cinnamon, and tons of fresh garlic. Then, I stuck that baby in the oven around 10 PM and cooked it until about 4-5 PM the next day. At 180 degrees, the fat slowly melted out of the lamb and basted the delicious meat – I think I ate half a pound just as I was carving it up!
To assemble into tacos, I simply served up with lamb with a little bit of lettuce, queso fresco, and pickled carrots and radish. My favorite part of this recipe is that you can put this in the oven before you go to bed, and by the time you wake up in the morning, your house will smell phenomenal. Check on it and add some chicken stock to the bottom of the pan if you’d like, go to work, come back, and your lamb will be beautifully done.
If you are interested in recipes from all the other bloggers in this contest, check out the links below (being updated as posts come in):
Lynda @ Taste Food Blog
Peter @ A Cook Blog
Olga @ Mango Tomato
David @ eat drink RI
Gwen @ Bunkycooks
Heather @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia @ One Vanilla Bean
Spicy Lamb Tacos
1 whole lamb shoulderl
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce,
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bunch of cilantro, stems only
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or canela if you have it)
Kosher salt, to taste
For taco assembly:
Warm corn tortillas
Fresh sliced carrots, coated in lime juice
Fresh sliced radish
For the rub, combine the chipotle, garlic, cilantro stems, lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cinnamon in a food processor and combine until a uniform paste is formed.
Prick the lamb shoulder with a small knife all over the meat to allow the wet rub to flavor it throughout. Season the lamb all around with salt and then apply the wet rub so that every surface of the lamb is coated with it.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and cook the lamb for at least 10 hours (it's great to put in right before you go to bed!), in a roasting pan. Feel free to add 3 or 4 cups of chicken stock, white wine, or water to the bottom of the pan to add extra moisture.
Once the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Then, take a knife or fork and slice all the meat off. Then feel free to assemble tacos with the suggested toppings or with toppings of your choice!