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Nothing says family-fun like taco night. Instead of traditional Mexican tacos composed of corn tortillas dressed in guacamole, cilantro, chopped onion, tomatoes, and chiles, try our lamb tacos.
These tacos are inspired by a fusion of flavors from Mexico to Turkey. They feature pulled lamb, coriander pickled shallots, cabbage slaw, and carrot salad.
The combination of herbs and spices will elevate your taco night to new heights, creating the perfect bite of fat, sweetness, and tang.
The Quality of the Meat Impacts the Final Product
I advise you to visit your local butcher to purchase a lamb shoulder. The grocery store does not usually carry high-quality red meat. Of course, it is not a requirement, but if you spring for the local butcher’s livestock, it will undoubtedly be worth the few extra bucks.
The Cooking Time is Dependent on Size
The size of the lamb shoulder you purchase will depend on the size of the lamb. This recipe is based on a 4.5-pound lamb shoulder. However, if yours is slightly larger, reaching 5-6 pounds, you may need to slow cook on low heat for 5 hours instead of 4 hours. Use a thermometer to determine doneness. The final result will be a slow-cooked pulled lamb that easily forks off the bone.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (or 63 degrees Celsius) to a maximum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). This temperature will yield a perfect medium-rare lamb shoulder. However, for pulled, fall off the bone lamb, the temperature will be approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit (91 degrees Celsius) to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (96 degrees Celsius).
Charring the Skin is the Name of the Game
Keep an eye on the internal temperature of the lamb. When the temperature reaches approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit (or 71 degrees Celsius), turn up the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) to char the skin for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit (91 degrees Celsius). The longer the lamb shoulder can sit in high heat, the more the skin will char.
Let It Rest
It is essential to allow your lamb shoulder to rest for 30 minutes before shredding it. Remove the lamb shoulder from the oven when it reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit (91 degrees Celsius). Note that the lamb’s internal temperature may increase by 5 to 10 degrees after resting.
A Quick Pickle
We love quick pickles. For this recipe, we will pickle some sliced shallots to dress our tacos. Quick pickles add a lot of depth to the flavor profile of a dish. If you want to learn the basics of pickling, visit “How to Master a Quick Pickle.”
The Cut That Makes A More Balanced Bite
Although we plated these tacos with attractive long shreds or slices of lamb, you may consider chopping the lamb into smaller chunks. This modification will ensure a more balanced bite of flavors and prevent one from pulling out all the meat in a single bite.
Reheating and Storage
Store leftover lamb in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. You may consume it for up to 4 days following refrigeration.
You may reheat it in the microwave at 70% for 1-2 minutes or until warm throughout. Alternatively, you may wrap the lamb in foil and place it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for 10 minutes or until warm.
Store pickled shallots in a sealed jar in their brine and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The carrot salad and the cabbage slaw should be stored in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 1 week. Both may become soggy after a day. Visit the “Love Your Leftovers” section for tips on how to enjoy leftover carrot salad and cabbage slaw the next day. You can quickly whip up fresh cabbage slaw or carrot salad for the remaining tacos on the days you wish to enjoy them.
Visit your local liquor store and request a bottle featuring these characteristics to find the perfect pair.
- Color: red
- Notes: unripe cherry, pepper, white pepper, lilac, mushroom, and moss
- Geography: old world
- Structure: medium body, medium acidity
Love your Leftovers
Extra Carrot Salad and Cabbage Slaw?
- Throw both carrot salad and cabbage slaw leftovers into a large salad the next day.
- Combine field greens, crunchy vegetables such as fennel, red pepper, green pepper, and cucumbers into a large mixing bowl.
- Chop cilantro and sprinkle it into the mixing bowl.
- Shake up a simple vinaigrette sweetened with honey. I recommend Cookie + Kate’s basic vinaigrette.
- Toss the salad and enjoy.
Extra Lamb Meat?
- Wash and cook white or brown basmati rice on the stovetop.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Wrap the leftover lamb in foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until warm.
- Spoon white or brown basmati rice into a bowl.
- Top with leftover warm lamb, pickled shallots, cabbage slaw, and carrot salad.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Purge Your Fridge
You just finished devouring our lamb tacos, and you are left with the following ingredients:
- Lamb shoulder carcass
- 1/2 orange
- Three inches ginger
- 1/2 shallot
- 3/4 head of green cabbage
- 2 tablespoon green onions
- 1/2 cup of cilantro
Try our mushroom and pea lamb broth risotto using the leftover lamb shoulder carcass to make a beautifully rich and flavorful broth for a creamy and authentic Italian risotto.
Additionally, get rid of the remaining leftover ingredients with our cilantro and orange pickled cabbage and shallots recipe. It is simple, easy, and it will last in your refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. You may toss it in a salad, throw it into a rice bowl, put it on a burger or in a sandwich, or serve it atop fish or red meat dishes. The options are endless.
Pulled Lamb Tacos with Pickled Shallots, Cabbage Slaw, and Carrot Salad
- 4.5 lbs lamb shoulder 2kgs
- 18 corn tortillas or flour
- 1 large yellow onion sliced
- 1/2 orange squeezed
- 2 limes squeezed
- 2 tbsps Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 inches ginger peeled and grated
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 10 cloves garlic depending on the size of the lamb
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Maldon salt flakes garnish
- ground pepper
- 1/4 head green cabbage shredded
- 1/4 cup green onion
- 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsps red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ground pepper 7 grinds
1. Marinate the Lamb Shoulder (Overnight)
- Combine orange (squeezed), limes (squeezed), Dijon mustard, honey, ground cumin, cumin seeds, and 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil into a small mixing bowl. Whisk.
- Peel and grate ginger into the mixing bowl. Whisk.
- Pierce holes into the skin of the lamb shoulder.
- Deepen some of those holes in the skin of the lamb shoulder and stuff garlic cloves into the skin. Move the knive from side to side to widen the holes. We recommend 6-10 cloves, depending on the size of your lamb shoulder.
- Rub the lamb shoulder with the marinade in every nook and cranny, including under the skin where possible.
- Store lamb shoulder in a vacuum sealed bag or an airtight container overnight.
2. Prepare and Slow Cook the Lamb Shoulder
- Remove lamb shoulder from the bag or the airtight container. Bring lamb to room temperature before cooking (for a minimum of one hour).
- Preheat the oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees Celsius).
- Rub Kosher salt and grind pepper all over the lamb shoulder.
3. Lightly Sauté Onions and Begin to Roast Lamb
- Slice yellow onion and set aside.
- Place the roasting pot on the stovetop at medium-low heat. Pour 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive into a roasting pot. Add yellow onion slices. Sauté lightly for 5 minutes.
- Place lamb shoulder (skin up) atop the yellow onion slices and place the roasting pot in the oven.
- Cook in the oven at 280 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees Celsius) and baste every hour for 4 hours.
4. Finish the Lamb
- For the last 30 minutes to 1 hour, turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) to char the skin. While the Lamb is resting for the remaining 30 minutes, prepare the toppings by following the instructions below.
- Cook lamb until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees Fahrenheit (91 degrees Celsius). Be careful not to overcook. Read the “Need-to-Know” section above for details.
- Remove lamb from the roasting pot and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes.
- Pull lamb off the bone and cut remaining pieces into thin strips or bite-size pieces. Toss sliced lamb with excess lamb juice (not fat) and onions from the roasting pot.
5. Prepare the Carrot Salad
- Grate carrots into a mixing bowl. Mince garlic. Set aside.
- Add fennel seeds to a sauté pan on medium heat and lightly toast for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, mix dressing by adding extra-virgin olive oil, lime (squeezed), minced garlic, toasted fennel seeds, ground cumin, raw honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk. Sprinkle in raisins. Allow the vinaigrette to sit for 30 minutes.
- Toss carrots with the dressing.
6. Pickle the Shallots
- Place a saucepan on the stovetop at medium heat. Add red wine vinegar, water, brown mustard seeds, coriander seeds, salt, and sugar.
- When the pickling liquid begins to boil, turn down the heat to medium-low heat to simmer.
- Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered, until sugar dissolves. Add shallots sliced to a mixing bowl and pour pickling liquid over the shallots when done.
- Allow the shallots to sit in the pickling liquid for 30 minutes.
7. Mix the Cabbage Slaw
- Thinly slice cabbage, finely chop green onions, and roughly chop cilantro. Add cabbage, green onions, and cilantro to a mixing bowl.
- Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
8. Let’s Plate!
- Place the tortilla on a plate.
- Top with a handful of lamb meat, a spoon of shallots, and a sprinkling of cabbage slaw and carrot salad.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and Maldon salt flakes.
- Serve and enjoy!