Lamb Carnitas Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
These lamb carnitas tacos are an amazing addition to my self proclaimed best diet ever, the ” all taco diet”. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect diet? All tacos. All the time. Who doesn’t love tacos?!?
The recipe for these were inspired from classic pork carnitas after I had gotten a ton of lamb from a lamb company and was wanting to come up with some creative ways to use it. The lamb is a perfect stand in for pork here. Just a variation, pork carnitas still reigns supreme. But these are an amazing variation, fantastic for lamb lovers.
I prepped the lamb shoulder the same as I would with pork. It is leaner than pork so I kept the fat on the lamb.
These were also smaller roasts than the size roast we normally use for pork carnitas tacos so we used both of them. Carnitas is typically made with either pork leg or shoulder roast. These were lamb top round roasts.
You can see that the lamb is very lean so we added more liquid than typically called for and we cooked it with the pan lid on so it wouldn’t dry out. We added in more liquid when it looked like it was getting low and it cooked a lot faster than pork usually doe. Once it was cooked in the oven we shredded it and crisped it up a little in a cast iron pan.
To go with the tacos we of course made simple pickled red onions.
Corn tortillas. I soften these in the oven with a little coconut oil brushed on them and heat on a cookie sheet at 275 Deg F and flip once or twice then keep wrapped in a towel. They will stay nice and pliable so they don’t crack or tear.
And some freshly roasted tomatillo salsa using tomatillos and cilantro from our garden. The recipe for the carnitas, red onions and salsa are all in the recipe card. The pickled red onion recipe can be found in the notes section of the recipe. You can make this recipe over several days, make the salsa and onions a few days ahead of time if you like.
Lamb carnitas tacos. A welcome addition to my all taco diet
For the lamb:
- 4-5 lbs lamb top round roast
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 whole medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsbp sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup orange juice
- Juice from one lemon
- Juice from one lime
- 1 ½ c chicken broth
For the Tomatillo salsa:
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 lbs of tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half
- 6 cloves of garlic
- ½ white onion, diced small
- Juice of one lime
- 1 /2 c cilantro
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, optional.
- Corn tortillas
- Avocado Slices
- crumbled goat cheese or cotija cheese
- Preheat the oven to 300 Deg. F
- Prepare the lamb: Cut the lamb into 2- 3” square chunks, do not trim any fat
- Place the lamb in a large ovenproof skillet and distribute the garlic and onion over the top. Season with spices then add in the orange, lemon and lime juice and one cup of the chicken broth. Place a lid on the pan and place in the oven. Cook for 4-6 hours, checking every hour after the first two hours to see if the liquid is simmering, if its not turn the heat up to 350 and cook until it starts to simmer, leaving the lid on still. Once simmering, bring the heat back down to 300 then check every 20 min or so until the meat starts to shred easily, turning the pieces of meat over every time you check it. If the liquid is getting too low, add in the remaining half a cup of chicken broth.
- Once the lamb can be shredded easily with a fork remove the pan from the oven and roughly shred with two forks. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high and add a little coconut oil. Cook the shredded lamb a few minutes to crisp it up then transfer back to the original pan with the remaining liquid and keep warm until ready to serve. Taste the lamb and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Make the salsa while the lamb is cooking. Place the diced onion in a small bowl of ice water.
- In a skillet over medium high heat dry roast the peppers, garlic cloves still in their peel and the tomatillo halves. Turning the tomatillos once and the rest of the ingredients often to make sure all sides are starting to brown. Remove from the pan.
- Let cool then remove the garlic peels, stems and seeds from the peppers and place in a blender along with the roasted tomatillos, add in the lime juice and cilantro and blend until mostly pureed. Transfer to a bowl, drain the ice water from the onions and add the onion to the bowl and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- To make the tacos
- Soften the tortillas in a 275 deg oven, lightly brush with oil and heat on a cookie sheet for a few minutes until soft and pliable. Repeat with desired number of tortillas. Keep the tortillas wrapped in a kitchen towel on a plate to keep warm.
- Take one tortilla, place about 2-3 ounces of the lamb in the center and top with some pickled red onion, avocado slices, some tomatillo salsa, fresh goat cheese crumbles and a dash of hot sauce if desired.
- Serve with chips and margaritas of course!!
Quick Pickled Red Onions
1-2 red onions, peeled, cut in half then thinly sliced
½ c apple cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
¼ c water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the onion slices in a bowl or a large mason jar
Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in a pot on the stove
Pour over the onions and let sit at least 30 minutes before serving. Keep well chilled with a lid on the bowl or jar. Will last for several weeks in an airtight container or jar.
Did you make this recipe?
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I asked Vijay’s permission to post my version of his recipe. I don’t normally blog other blogger’s recipes (unless I ask permission and I adapt them) and I just had to share this version of lamb carnitas since not everyone eats pork so this is a extremely delicious alternative!!
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