This recipe for Mexican Lamb Tacos with Tequila Soaked Raisins and Pepitas was created in partnership with the American Lamb Board. As always, all opinions and recipe are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Shared Appetite!
Ever have an idea that sounds a lot better in theory than in actual real life? Yup. Happened to us this weekend. Tyler and I are photographing a wedding in a couple weeks with our company Ashe Photography Studio (shameless plug for all you NY couples…) at the Long Island Aquarium. We always go and scout venues that we’ve never photographed at before so that we have a clear game plan for our wedding couples. Asheley and I thought, hey, since I’m going out there anyway, let’s make it a family adventure and bring her and baby girl too.
She’ll LOVE the aquarium, we said.
Yea. She did. For like 10 minutes. She was scared of the sea otters and wanted nothing to do with the koi pond. BUT… she loved the tropical fish and was all about the penguins. Worth the hassle of packing everything up and driving for over an hour for such a short field trip? Eh, maybe. But I’d do it again. Seeing Olivia’s eyes light up, even if it’s just for a split-second moment, is worth all of it. Every time.
Ever have an idea that sounds great in theory and in real life? That would be these Mexican Lamb Tacos with Tequila Soaked Raisins and Pepitas. YESSSSSS.
Tequila soaked raisins. That would be raisins spiked with tequila. Mmmm hmm. Don’t worry… you can always skip the liquor bath if you want a kid-friendly taco. But besides the tequila adding some serious flavor to these Mexican Lamb Tacos, it just sounds pretty bad-donkey. Right?!
Oh yea. And pickled onions, avocado, queso fresco, and cilantro. Okay, Mexican crema and hot sauce too.
THIS is a party in your mouth.
I’m in love with my pork carnitas recipe. It always delivers perfectly tender, irresistible meat… every time. For bonus points, I always like to get the little morsels all crispy and caramelized on the surface. It results in a beautiful golden-brown crust along with a super moist inside.
So obviously… I used that same recipe and substituted in lamb shoulder. And it was PERFECT.
And I’m not talking about any lamb in these Mexican Lamb Tacos with Tequila Soaked Raisins and Pepitas. This is 100% American Lamb. Made here, for here.
And American Lamb is incredibly local, no matter where you live in the U.S. It’s produced in almost every state! And with 50% of the lamb we eat here in the states coming from Australia and New Zealand (i.e. 10,000 miles away from your supermarket), I’m all about supporting our local farmers.
Not big corporations or farm factories. Farmers. Our local shepherds raise lamb on their very owned small family-owned farms.
Lamb is also a pretty darn nutritious choice when it comes to meat. It’s 100% artificial growth hormone free,contains nearly 5 times the amount of essential omega-3 fatty acids than beef, and a whole bunch of other really awesome nutritional data type stuff.
Looking for more American Lamb inspiration this Spring? Besides these Mexican Lamb Tacos, that is. They have a TON of cool recipes and resources (wine + beer pairins and leftover ideas!) on their Spring Entertaining page.
Mexican Lamb Tacos with Tequila Soaked Raisins and Pepitas
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 6-8 pound boneless American Lamb shoulder
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons tequila
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- 2 avocados, chopped
- Pickled Onions
- Mexican Crema*
- Hot Sauce
- Flour or Corn Tortillas
- 1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco
- Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut lamb shoulder in large pieces, approximately 4-5 inches and remove excess fat. Season generously on all sides with Kosher salt.
- In a large heavy-bottom oven safe pot (I use my dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear lamb shoulder on all sides until deep golden brown, approximately 2-4 minutes per side. If your pot is to small to cook all the lamb at one time in a single layer, sear in batches.
- Remove browned lamb from the pot and use a paper towel to blot away excess grease. Pour in 1 cup of water and use a wooden spoon to scrap up all the browned bits on the bottom of your pot.
- Stir in onion, garlic, chile powder, ancho chile powder, bay leaves, cumin, and a big pinch of salt. Return all the lamb to pot and add enough water so that it submerges ⅔ of the meat.
- Place uncovered pot in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the lamb a couple times throughout the braising process. Lamb is done when almost all of the liquid is evaporated and the meat literally falls apart as you try to pick it up with a fork.
- Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove meat to a large bowl and shred with two forks (or allow to cool a bit and shred with your fingers). Discard any visible big chunks of fat.
- If serving right away: discard any excess braising liquid left in pot. Add shredded lamb back into pot and return to oven, turning shredded lamb occasionally, until it’s as crispy and caramelized as you want it.
- If making ahead: let lamb cool completely and refrigerate for up to a few days. Alternatively, you can wrap shredded lamb in foil and seal in a ziploc bag and freeze for several weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in 350°F oven wrapped in foil placed on a baking sheet. Once lamb is heated through, unwrap foil and let lamb get all crispy and caramelized, if desired.
- Meanwhile, while lamb cooks in oven, submerge raisins in tequila in a small mixing bowl. Let soak for approximately 2 hours.
- Warm tortillas. Top with shredded lamb, tequila soaked raisins, pepitas, pickled onions, and avocado. Drizzle with crema and hot sauce, and garnish with queso fresco and cilantro. Devour.
*you can easily make a DIY substitute for Mexican Crema if you can’t find it. Just combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup of half and half. Season with Kosher salt and if too thick, thin with filtered water to desired consistency.