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These birria tacos are made with delicious, tender lamb shanks simmered in a flavorful blend of spices and chilies. Load the shredded lamb into toasted corn tortillas with melted Oaxaca cheese, top with onion, jalapeño, and cilantro, then serve with a spicy consummé dipping broth!
Lamb Shank Birria Tacos with Cheese and Spicy Dipping Sauce
2 pounds lamb shanks
3 guajillo chiles
1 can chipotle in adobo (can use ½ can to reduce spice level)
¼ cup crushed tomatoes (or 2 fresh Roma tomatoes)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes for extra heat
Salt and pepper to taste
1 white onion, diced
½ to 1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves, whole
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
12-15 corn tortillas
2 cups Oaxaca cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro
1 white onion, finely diced
2 jalapeños, sliced
Begin by cutting the stems off the guajillo chiles with kitchen shears or scissors. Slice the chiles lengthwise, open them up, and remove all the seeds. Place the guajillo chiles in a bowl, then pour hot water over them until they are fully immersed. Cover the bowl with a plate or lid and let soak for about 15 minutes, until the chiles have softened.
Next, in a blender, add the softened guajillo chiles, canned chipotle in adobo, crushed tomatoes (alternatively, you can use two fresh Roma tomatoes), white vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and chili flakes. Blend until smooth; add salt and pepper to taste.
Next, in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil (preferably vegetable or canola). While the pan is heating up, use a paper towel to gently pat the lamb shanks, removing excess moisture. Once the oil is shimmering, add your lamb shanks and sear for 3-5 minutes on each side, until a brown crust forms. If needed, sear the shanks in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the shanks and set them aside.
To make the consommé, using the same pan, reduce heat to medium and pour in a little more oil before adding onions and sautéing until translucent. Pour in the blended guajillo sauce and the beef broth before adding the lamb shanks back in with whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, and two bay leaves. Bring to a boil before reducing heat to low; simmer for an hour and a half.
Turn off the heat and remove the shanks from the pan, allowing the meat to cool for a couple of minutes. Using a fork, finely shred the meat before placing it in a bowl and setting aside.
To assemble the tacos, begin by heating a heavy-duty pan on medium-high. Quickly dip each tortilla into the consommé, coating them with the fat floating on the surface. Place the tortillas in the hot pan and sprinkle them with a generous amount of Oaxaca cheese. Add the shredded meat onto half of the tortilla, and drizzle a large spoonful of the consommé onto your meat. Fold over the side without the meat and allow the tacos to toast on both sides until brown.
Serve the tacos topped with cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and half of the diced white onion. Prepare the dipping broth by adding two cups of the consommé into a serving bowl and add the other half of the freshly diced white onion and cilantro. Dunk your taco into the spicy consommé before taking a bite — enjoy!