A couple of months ago I discovered Blanco Niño, authentic tortillas made in Clonmel, Tipperary. I used the tortillas in my Mexican dinners ever since, but last weekend I decided to make a brand new Mexican inspired dinner, with overnight marinated lamb legs that I then braised in the oven for a few hours. Needless to say this recipe takes a long time to cook, so it’s for those of you who love to spend a lot of time cooking – I personally could spend every second of every day cooking so I didn’t mind one bit that it took a lot of time to make it.
I first rubbed the lamb legs in my own spice mix, then made a nice chilli-tomato sauce, placed the meat in it overnight to soak up all those flavours. I then browned the meat in a pan before putting it back in the tomato sauce in the oven for 3 hours after which the meat just fell off the bone. Absolutely delicious!
When it comes to the level of spice in this recipe, you can pretty much alter it yourself. I used red chilli peppers in the sauce and some green ones freshly chopped at the end as well. I would say that overall it was only a very subtle – mild spice, so if you want more of a kick you’ll want to be adding at least 2 extra red chilli peppers in the sauce.
One last special ingredient was pickled red onion, which gave it a nice little sweet touch as well to balance it out.
You can serve this as a lunch or dinner, but you can also turn them into nice little appetisers if you use really small tortillas or even mini burger buns or nachos to serve it with.
Serves: 3-4 people
- 800g lamb leg
- 4 red onions
- 2 red chilli peppers
- 800g tinned plum tomatoes
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- black pepper
- pinch of cinnamon
- 2 limes
- 2 green chilli peppers
- fresh parsley
- 125ml white wine vinegar
- 250ml water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
We’re going to start by making a spice rub for the lamb. Add cumin, hot smoked paprika, brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper into a bowl. Rub the lamb on all sides with the rub and set aside in the fridge in a big tub or bowl while we work on the other ingredients. I recommend using an oven proof bowl already, to avoid having too many dishes to wash afterwards.
Chop up 2 red onions roughly, no need for them to be tiny pieces as we’re going to mix it later on. Heat rapeseed oil or olive oil in a big deep pan and add your onions to it. Chop up the red onion, remove the little seeds and add them to the sauce as well. Again, no need for it to be chopped in small pieces.
Let it cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes. Add in the crushed garlic with a pinch of salt and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Blend your sauce and set aside to cool down completely. Once it’s cool, poor it onto the lamb in the bowl, seal it or cover it up and let it sit in a fridge overnight. If the sauce is still warm, don’t poor it onto the lamb as it will cook the lamb in the sauce, which is not what we want just yet.
Onto the next day then! Preheat your oven to 175°C. Take the lamb pieces out of the sauce and try to get rid of as much of the sauce stuck onto it as possible. Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb on all sides until browned and crispy. Now add your sauce to a deep oven proof bowl if you hadn’t done so already, put the lamb back in it, cover with a lid or tin foil and cook in the oven for at least 3 hours. Turn your lamb around a few times to make sure it gets cooked evenly on all sides. Meanwhile slice up 2 red onions into rings/half rings. Get a jar ready, add in vinegar, water and sugar, give it a good stir or shake and add your red onions. Close the jar (if you don’t have a lid, use cling film) and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour before you need it.
Once your lamb has cooked for at least 3 hours, take it out of the oven and use a fork to pull the meat off the bone. It should go fairly easily at this stage as the lamb has cooked for so long. Microwave your tortillas according to instructions to heat them up and slice up the green chillis (remove the seeds), spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the middle, place pulled lamb on top and serve with fresh parsley, some fresh lime, your freshly chopped green chilli and last but not least: your pickled red onion!