I’ve talked about my maternal grandfather before in my Birria de Res post. My grandfather was also my padrino (godfather), a very quiet and extremely intelligent man. My family is from the state of Durango, but my grandfather was born in Zacatecas. If you’ve ever been to either of these two states, you might know what life is like outside of the big cities. In short, ranch life is – sombreros, wood fires, dirt roads, chickens roaming around, and shhhh… you can hear a pin drop! Recently, I visited La Cocina de Doña Esthela in the Valle de Guadalupe, and it reminded me of where I come from, especially after a bite of a dish I know very, very well: Borrego Tatemado, or Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb.
It doesn’t get any fresher than this. Doña Ethela raises her own vegetables as well as her own livestock – the pigs and other critters are very active, particularly at their dinner time. It’s a popular spot. If you want to visit during the weekend, you might have to wait to be seated. It’s also a very remote location, but any of the locals can guide you. FYI: Parking is limited, and the road to get here is not the best.
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At the very end of the cooking, Borrego Tatemado, or Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb, is basted with its juices. The lid is removed, then cooked for 15-20 minutes longer, or until the meat develops a char on the outside. The other way you can do this (and this is my preferred way, but you really gotta watch it) is to stick it under the broiler for 7-10 minutes. Don’t go away from the stove and take the latest Facebook quiz, or it can burn!
You can use any type of lamb meat – leg, shoulder, with or without bones. This is rustic Mexican cooking, and we don’t waste any part of the animal. Normally, this dish is not served with any juice, and it tastes amazing just on its own. Maybe it’s me, but I like my food saucy. Remove the meat from the pan, leaving the drippings. To the pot, add 1 cup of beef broth and bring to a simmer. Carefully pour the sauce into a small bowl or a gravy boat to serve with your food. If you can’t find lamb, you can also make this dish with roast beef.
Top your Borrego Tatemado, or Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb, off with some raw white onion, cilantro, lime, and salsa. Can’t forget the tortillas, and enjoy the deliciousness of this recipe in every bite. To be eaten with friends and family and lots of laughter.
- 5 lbs lamb meat (your favorite cut of lamb)
- 3 chiles anchos
- 5 chiles guajillos
- ½ onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 4 cloves
- 8 whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ cup white vinegar
- Whole Nutmeg
- In a large container, place the lamb and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Cover with water.
- Let sit for 30 minutes. This is to completely remove the blood.
- Meanwhile, toast the chile ancho and chile guajillo.
- Be careful not to burn.
- Remove the stem from all the chiles.
- Then devein and remove as many seeds as possible.
- Add the chiles to a pot of water.
- Bring to a boil and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Discard water.
- Add all the cleaned chiles, onion, garlic, cloves, peppercorns, cumin, oregano, salt, vinegar, and ½ cup water to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- We are making a paste. If the blender needs more water, add only the amount necessary to get it to blend.
- Set aside until ready to use.
- Discard water from the meat.
- Rinse the meat well.
- Pour the sauce from the blender onto the meat.
- Add 1 cup of water to the blender to get any remaining sauce.
- Gently rub the sauce all over the meat.
- Be sure to marinate every part of the meat.
- Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- To a large Dutch Oven pot, add the meat and sauce.
- Cover with the lid and place in the oven.
- Cook for 1 hour.
- Remove the pot from the oven.
- Baste the meat with liquid from the bottom of the pot.
- Return the pot to the oven uncovered and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- (OR, place uncovered pot under the broiler for 7-10 minutes, until the meat is slightly charred. If you are doing this method, watch the meat carefully so it won’t burn).
- Again take out the pot and baste with the juices from the bottom of the pan.
- Grate fresh nutmeg over the top of the meat and return the uncovered pot to the oven for 5 more minutes, or 2 minutes under the broiler.
- Serve with raw white onions, cilantro, salsa, lime, and tortillas.