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Categories: Main courses, Soups

Birria

Birria
Los Angeles Times

Ferias, the country fairs of Mexico and Spain, are times of passion, joy and wonder. During the short days that the feria lasts, we let our feelings run at high speed. It's as Jean Paul Sartre once wrote on another ... Read more

Total time: 5 hours plus 1 hour standing | Serves 10 to 12
Note: Fresh masa is available at the meat counter of Latino markets. Banana leaves are sold at Latino and Asian markets.

Adobo paste

  • 6 dried ancho chiles
  • 10 dried guajillo chiles
  • 4 cups water
  • 14 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 onions, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons ground oregano
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

Step 1Roast ancho and guajillo chiles in dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Slice open and remove seeds and veins.

Step 2Heat water in 6-quart saucepan over medium heat and add chiles. Simmer 20 minutes. Drain chiles; reserve water.

Step 3In blender or food processor, puree chiles, garlic, onions, cumin seeds, ginger, oregano, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, thyme, bay leaves, salt and vinegar in batches to form thick paste. If too thick, add a little cooking water.

Lamb

  • 1 banana leaf
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 (6 1/2-pound) leg of lamb, cut in 3-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup lard
  • Adobo Paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh masa, kneaded with 3 tablespoons warm water

Step 1Cut banana leaf into 6 to 8 pieces small enough to fit into deep-sided roasting pan. Brush pieces with oil, stack and wrap them in foil. Roast at 425 degrees until leaf pieces are soft and pliable, 15 minutes.

Step 2Coat lamb with lard, making sure pieces are well covered. Let stand 30 minutes.

Step 3Spread Adobo Paste over chunks, working it into lamb so all pieces are covered. Let stand 30 minutes.

Step 4Line bottom and sides of deep-sided roasting pan with most of roasted banana leaf pieces. Place lamb chunks on top. Cover with remaining leaf pieces.

Step 5Place foil on work surface and roll masa out so it's large enough to cover lamb and leaf pieces and just fit inside roasting pan. Lift foil and invert masa onto leaf pieces, then peel away foil. Cover pan with lid.

Step 6Fill shallow pan with water and place on lower oven rack so it will be beneath roasting pan. Bake lamb at 350 degrees until tender, 3 to 4 hours. Start checking lamb after 3 hours by carefully lifting edge of masa to remove meat chunk; if lamb is not tender, pack masa back around lamb and continue to cook, checking again after 10 to 15 minutes.

Soup

  • 5 large tomatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 gallon chicken broth
  • Salt

Step 1Place tomatoes in baking dish and roast at 425 degrees until tender and slightly charred, about 45 minutes.

Step 2When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, blend tomatoes, garlic, onions and oregano in blender until smooth, in batches, if necessary.

Step 3Heat oil in large saucepan over high heat and cook tomato mixture 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth. Season to taste with salt, if necessary. Simmer soup 30 minutes to meld flavors.

Assembly

  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped, for garnish
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, stemmed and finely chopped, for garnish
  • 8 limes, cut in half, for garnish

Step 1Remove lamb from oven. Uncover and discard masa and leaves.

Step 2Shred lamb with 2 forks while still hot. Drain pan juices and add to Soup.

Step 3To serve, divide shredded lamb among 10 to 12 soup bowls and pour Soup over. Garnish with onions, cilantro and limes.

Each of 12 servings:
538 calories; 1,234 mg sodium; 102 mg cholesterol; 25 grams fat; 39 grams carbohydrates; 40 grams protein; 1.90 grams fiber.
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