Smoked Lamb Barbacoa

[Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment every other Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every other Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

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Smoked Lamb Barbacoa

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 8 to 12
Active time:1 hour 30 minutes
Total time:6 hours
Special equipment:Smoker or Grill, Blender
This recipe appears in: Grilling: Smoked Lamb Barbacoa

Ingredients

  • For the Rub
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon guajillo chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 5 pounds boneless lamb shoulder roast, tied
  • 3 to 4 chunks of a medium smoking wood, such as oak or hickory
  • For the Sauce
  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken stock, divided
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion (about 1 small)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from 2 limes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Corn tortillas, onion, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, and limes, for serving
  • Type of fire: Indirect
  • Grill heat: Low

Procedures

  1. 1

    To make the rub: Mix together salt, ancho chile powder, guajillo chile powder, cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, chipotle powder, and ground cloves. Season lamb shoulder roast liberally with rub all over.

  2. 2

    Fire up smoker or grill to 250°F, adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. Place lamb in smoker and smoke for 3 hours.

  3. 3

    To make the sauce: While the lamb is in the smoker, toast chilies in a large dutch oven over medium heat until fragrant, turning with tongs occasionally. Transfer to a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until chiles are completely softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

  4. 4

    Heat oil in now empty dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add in onion and garlic and cook until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add in oregano, cumin, ground cloves, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in remaining 2 cups of chicken stock, vinegar, and chipotles and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

  5. 5

    Transfer entire contents of dutch oven to the jar of a blender, along with soaked chilies and their soaking liquid. Puree until completely smooth, about 1 minutes. Set aside.

  6. 6

    Transfer lamb to now empty dutch oven. Pour sauce over lamb and add in bay leaves. Place lid on dutch oven slightly cracked, then transfer to smoker or a 250°F oven. Continue to cook until a metal skewer can be inserted into the lamb with little to no resistance, about 2 to 3 hours.

  7. 7

    Transfer lamb to a plate and discard bay leaves. Return dutch oven to stovetop and cook sauce over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes, skimming off any excess fat from surface. Stir lime juice into sauce.

  8. 8

    Untie lamb roast. Meat can be pulled and returned to sauce for immediate serving, but for best flavor and tenderness, place lamb in a large bowl and cover with reduced sauce. Refrigerate overnight or up to five days. When ready to serve, remove lamb from liquid and pull into large chunks with hands or two forks. Place sauce and shredded lamb into dutch oven a bring to a simmer over medium heat. Gently fold lamb until warmed all the way through and thoroughly coated with sauce. Season with salt to taste. Serve on toasted corn tortillas with onion, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, and lime.

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