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Hogget Barbacoa

Serves

8-10

Cooks In

Overnight

Difficulty

Intermediate

Barbacoa is a Mexican term for BBQ, but it is different from the American style BBQ in that the meats are slow roasted and steamed (overnight!) in an underground brick lined wood-fired pit until melting tender. Traditionally beef, goat or mutton is wrapped in maguey or banana leaves and placed over a pan of water and vegetables. The drippings from the meat flavour the broth or ‘consume’ below, making a delicious hot drink to have before or with your barbacoa. Since most of us don’t have a pit, the alternatives are steaming on the stove top (including pressure cooking) or slow baking in the oven or a smoker outside. We have chosen to slow bake in the oven. We are using British hogget lamb which is a little older and therefore more flavourful, but mutton would also work well. We are marinating the meat in Cool Chile Ancho in Adobo overnight, then making a nest of Cool Chile Avocado leaves for an aniseed note, then wrapping in banana leaves and finally sealing the whole lot in foil. Our barbacoa recipe is loosely based on a Rick Bayless recipe, being served with the ‘consume’, Cool Chile Corn Tortillas, finely diced white onion, chopped coriander leaves, lime wedges. For a killer Salsa Borracha (drunken salsa) we have turned to Alex Stupak who has an Oaxacan inspired recipe, which uses the smoky flavours of pasilla de Oaxaca and mezcal. All in all barabacoa makes a great festive meal either inside or out.

Method

Marinating the lamb

  1. Place the lamb in a large zip lock bag, add the jar of Ancho in Adobo, massage the paste over the meat through the bag, tie up and place in a dish in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Cooking the lamb and making the broth 

  1. Take the meat out of the fridge an hour before you want to cook, to come back to room temperature. 
  2. Place a rack in a large roasting, add all of the broth ingredients 

Wrapping the lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 150oC 
  2. Cut the tough rib off the side of the banana leaf then over a flame warm the leaf until it looks oily but is not burning, it will smell pleasant. 
  3. Place the banana leaf on the rack with two ends hanging oven each side, then place half of the avocado leaves on banana leaf on the rack in a single layer. 
  4. Remove the meat from the bag bringing as much of the marinade as you can with it. 
  5. Place the meat on top of the Avocado Leaves, cover the meat with the rest of the avocado leaves (they should stick to the marinade) and fold the leaves over the avocado leaf covered meat. 
  6. Wrap the tray and meat with foil to seal the whole lot, you don’t want any moisture to escape.
  7. Place the meat in the oven and cook for approx. 4 hours or until meltingly tender. You can check things are going well after 2 hours, make sure there is sufficient liquid still in the bottom of the roasting tray if not top up to the same level as when you put it in the oven.

In the meantime make the Salsa Borracha and prepare your garnishes.

Serving the barbacoa

  1. Once cooked remove the meat from the oven and let stand for half an hour to relax. 
  2. Cover a platter with any leftover banana leaf. Uncover and gently shred your meat with two forks removing any gristle or excess fat (some fat is good). 
  3. Then place in a heap on top of the banana leaf. 
  4. Season generously with salt flakes, the meat can take a lot of salt.
  5. Defat the ‘broth” and taste for seasoning, adding salt as necessary, usually with 1 ½ -2 tsp salt, and divvy up between bowls or cups.
  6. Griddle the tortillas on both sides until warm and browned in places but still soft, place them in the Tortilla Warmer as you go, stacking them inside.
  7. Chop your coriander and put back into the bowl.
  8. Take the broth, meat, salsa, garnishes and corn tortillas to the table. Let your guests customize their own meal, sprinkling with onion, coriander, and jalapenos if desired and applying Salsa Borracho, a squeeze of lime will make it sing, eat with the warming broth.

Buen Provecho!