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Easy Lamb Birria

Total Time
3 hrs

The deep flavor in this long-braised lamb dish belies the minimal labor it takes to make it. You don’t even need to brown the lamb.

su-Easy Lamb Birria

Photo: Erin Kunkel; Styling: Nissa Quanstrom
 4 pounds lamb stew meat
 2 limes
 1 white onion, chopped
 3 each dried guajillo, ancho, and cascabel chiles*
 6 large garlic cloves
 9 whole cloves
 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  About 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
 2 teaspoons kosher salt
 2 bay leaves
Step 1

Cover lamb with cold water; squeeze in juice from 1/2 lime (adding rind) and add a few pieces of the chopped onion. Let sit, stirring every so often, until water is very pink and cloudy, about 10 minutes. Drain well, discarding the lime rind.

Step 2

Meanwhile, toast chiles in a large frying pan over medium heat, turning as needed, until fragrant and starting to darken, 6 to 8 minutes; when cool enough to handle, remove stems. Put in a food processor with remaining onion, the garlic, cloves, thyme, cumin, vinegar, 1 1/2 cups broth, and the salt. Whirl together to make a thick sauce, adding a little more broth if needed.

Step 3

Combine sauce with lamb and bay leaves in a large, wide dutch oven, mixing to coat and spreading evenly. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is very tender when pierced, about 2 1/2 hours. Cut remaining 1 1/2 limes into wedges and serve on the side, along with Cilantro Rice.

Step 4

HANDS-FREE METHOD: Once sauce and lamb are mixed in the dutch oven, bake about 3 hours in a 275° oven.

Step 5

*Find the chiles in well-stocked Latino markets.

Step 6

Wine pairing: Ceja 2009 Syrah. This pungent lamb needs a dark, meaty red wine. The Ceja Syrah has a matching earthy soul from its cool-weather vineyard site.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 372Calories from Fat 32
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g20%

Saturated Fat 4.4g23%
Cholesterol 147mg49%
Sodium 618mg26%
Total Carbohydrate 13g5%

Dietary Fiber 3.6g15%
Protein 49g98%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.