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Recipe Friday: Lamb Shank Barbacoa Street Tacos

While traditional comfort food will undoubtedly still be popular as a way of coping with the pandemic, consumers will also be looking for healthier, more nostalgic dishes that transport them back to simpler times. Also look for non-traditional comfort food to rise in popularity, such as ramen dishes, pho, and tacos.  

“Traditional comfort food is dead in the water,” said California-based Chef Keith Lord during an International Caterers Association executive chef roundtable earlier this year. “They’re looking for comforting food that they haven’t been able to make at home.” 

And it just so happens to be Cinco de Mayo next week, so why not try these street tacos courtesy of the American Lamb Board. 

Lamb Shank Barbacoa Street Tacos

Recipe courtesy Sam Woodfill, Executive Sous Chef for Catering by Design

Yield: 50


10 ea. dried Guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded
10 ea. dried ancho chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
5 cups water
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
5 ea. whole cloves, stems removed
4 ea. garlic cloves
1 ea. Roma tomato, quartered
½ ea. medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 T dried oregano
2 ½ tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
3 T safflower or vegetable oil
8 lbs 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)
White Corn Tortillas


  1. For Marinade:  In a large heated skillet over medium heat, add Guajillo and Ancho peppers; toast for no more than 20 seconds per side.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Ingredietns for Citrus Purple Cabbage Slaw

½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ Fresh lime juice
2 T olive oil
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 ea. carrots, grated
½ ea. red cabbage, cored and shredded
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. 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.

Ingredients for Pickled Radish Crema

1 cup shaved radish
2 T lemon juice
1 T white vinegar
½ T salt
1 qt Mexican crema
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. 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.

And what's Cinco de Mayo and tacos without a Margarita? Here's a bonus recipe from the National Mango Board. 

Mango Clarified Margarita

Recipe courtesy Tony Pereyra, Bar & Beverage Specialist at The Spirits in Motion

Yield: 1


2 oz tequila
¾ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz mango syrup (recipe follows)
½ oz orange liquor
1 oz whole milk
Garnish: 1 mango peel each and 1 lime wheel each


  1. Combine ingredients 1-4 in mixing glass
  2. Pour cocktail mix over the milk
  3. Strain for 3-4 hours, or until your cocktail is clear
  4. Add clarified margarita to a mixing glass, add ice and stir
  5. Strain over ice into 12 oz Old Fashioned glass
  6. Garnish

Ingredients for Mango Syrup

½ cup mango chunks
½ cup sugar
½ cup water


  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil
  2. Remove from heat and let infuse 30 min
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. Bottle and refrigerate



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