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.
This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
I have talked about my maternal grandfather before in my Birria de Res post.
If you have 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!
When I visited La Cocina de Doña Esthela in the Valle de Guadalupe, I was reminded of life on the ranch, and a dish I know very, very well: Barbacoa de Borrego Tatemado, or Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb Barbacoa.
If you’ve never had this Mexican food favorite, you’re in for a real treat!
It does not get any fresher than this.
La Cocina de Doña Esthela raises her own vegetables as well as her own livestock – the pigs and other critters are very active, particularly at their dinner time.
It is a popular spot in the Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico. If you want to visit during the weekend, you might have to wait to be seated. This is also Mexico’s famed wine country and a big tourist destination.
The roads in Mexico are hit or miss. This restaurant (or restaurant on a ranch) is also a very remote location, but any of the locals can guide you.
Forget Farm-to-Table. Your table is at the farm.
This is not a place I would take a vegetarian or vegan. Some of the animals raised here are later cooked in a large clay oven. (see picture below)
You can even go up to the animals and see them in their pen.
At La Cocina de Doña Esthela, the Barbacoa de Borrego (Lamb Barbacoa) is cooked in a large Mexican clay oven that her husband and others on the ranch made for her.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to add “Create a Clay Oven” on your husband’s “HONEY DO” list.
• The way we make Barbacoa de Borrego Tatemado (Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb Barbacoa) in my family is in a regular oven.
- At the very end of the cooking, Barbacoa de Borrego Tatemado (Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb Barbacoa) is basted with its juices.
- The lid is removed, then cooked for 15-20 minutes longer, or until the meat develops a slight browning (or char) on the outside.
My favorite part of the meat is the charred part. The savory and robust flavor of the lamb is incredibly delicious.
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 do not waste any part of the animal.
Barbacoa de Borrego is usually served with “consome.” This, however, depends on what part of Mexico you happen to be in.
Maybe it’s just me, but I like my food saucy.
This is normally the same juice that the meat was cooked in. Since this is a barbacoa and not a birria, you might need to add more liquid.
Let me show how this is done…
Table of Contents
To Make the Consome:
- Remove the meat from the pan, leaving the drippings.
- To the pot, add 1 cup of beef broth or a gravy boat to serve with your food.
If you can’t find lamb, you can also make this dish with roast beef, but then it wouldn’t be Barbacoa de Borrego. You’d be making Barbacoa de Res.
Slow Cooker Instructions:
- Follow the recipe as directed below until step 22.
- Place meat and sauce in the slow cooker.
- Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours, or high for 6 hours.
- Carefully remove meat from slow cooker and place on a lined sheet pan.
- Put meat under the broil for 7-10 minutes to brown.
- Serve and enjoy.
This Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb Barbacoa is also served with raw white onion, cilantro, and lime for toppings.
• Note: The meat freezes extremely well and lasts up to 5 months in plastic freezer bag with the air removed. It lasts up to 5 days in the fridge.
Save some for later – burritos, stuffing for gorditas, or simply add a runny egg on top. Mmmm….
Slow cooked, juicy, tender meat that’s falling off the bone… This authentic Mexican recipe will have everyone saying, Muy Bueno!!! Hope you enjoy the deliciousness in every bite.
HUNGRY FOR MORE
Borrego Tatemado, or Mexican Fire-Roasted Lamb
- Place the lamb and 1 tablespoon salt inside a large container.
- 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. Turn heat off. Let sit for 55 minutes.
- Discard water.
- Add all the rehydrated chiles, onion, garlic, cloves, peppercorns, cumin, oregano, 1 tablespoon 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.
More Authentic Mexican Recipes:
Braised Chile Colorado Beef Shanks (or Chamorros con Chile Colorado) is a robust and rich in flavor dish. This is Mexican recipe destined to be one of your family favorites.
Caldo de Res, or Mexican Beef Soup, is a traditional Mexican dish made with beef shanks and loaded with vegetables. Hearty and extremely satisfying, this recipe is a well-loved classic in Mexico.
Tamales de Puerco en Chile Rojo (or Red Pork Tamales) is traditional Mexican food at its best. So tasty. So incredibly delicious. They are worth the effort to make.