Lamb Shank Barbacoa Street Tacos



Marinated American lamb chops with rosemary & garlic on a plate


  • 10 dried guajillo chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 10 dried ancho chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 whole cloves, stems removed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Roma tomato, quartered
  • 1/2 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
  • 8 pounds bone-in American Lamb shanks
  • Banana leaves (optional)
  • Fresh or dried avocado leaves (optional)
  • Citrus Purple Cabbage Slaw (recipe follows)
  • Pickled Radish Crema (recipe follows)
  • 50 white corn tortillas 

Citrus Purple Cabbage Slaw:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1/2 red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Pickled Radish Crema:

  • 1 cup shaved radish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 quart Mexican crema
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


For Marinade:  In a large heated skillet over medium heat, add Guajillo and Ancho peppers; toast for no more than 20 seconds per side. 

In a medium saucepan, add peppers and water. Cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until peppers are softened and rehydrated. In a blender, add peppers, 2 cups of cooking liquid, vinegar, cloves, garlic, tomato, onion, oregano, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and allspice; puree until smooth. Wipe out saucepan; add oil. Heat pan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes; add pureed marinade. Partially cover; cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until color darkens and mixture thickens to a paste-like consistency. Set aside; cool for at least 1 hour. 

Rinse lamb; pat dry. In a large non-reactive dish, add lamb; cover completely and rub marinade into lamb. Cover; refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. 

In a large roasting pan, unfold banana leaves; arrange in layers on roasting rack leaving a generous amount of overlap on pan’s long sides for wrapping the meat. (Alternatively use long pieces of foil.)  Place meat on top of leaves; use marinade to cover. Place avocado leaves on top of the meat; fold banana leaves over to cover meat. (Cover tightly with foil.)  Slow roast for 8 to 10 hours, until meat easily comes off the bone. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before opening banana leaves; discard leaves. Shred meat as desired. 

Grill white corn tortillas until charred and hot, place 2 ounces of shredded lamb meat in taco shell. Top with Citrus Purple Cabbage Slaw and Pickled Radish Crema. 

For Citrus Purple Cabbage Slaw:  In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Add carrots and cabbage; toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 45 minutes. Fold in cilantro before serving. 

For the Pickled Radish Crema:  In a bowl, combine radish, lemon juice, vinegar and salt; let stand 1 hour. In a blender, combine radish mixture and crema; blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Chef Tips:

  • Remove seeds and stems before toasting chiles.
  • To simplify, use American Lamb precooked shoulder meat.  Simmer the precooked American Lamb shoulder meat in marinade sauce for 30 minutes.
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Visit our Lamb Cooking Time & Temperature page for recipe inspiration and tips on preparing the perfect lamb.
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