Lamb Barbacoa with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Corn Elote Salad Recipe
- by Chef David Rose
- Last updated Jun 15, 2023
Everybody loves the pastoral flavors delivered by a quality leg of lamb dish, but when you’re also craving a little heat to your meat, there’s no better – or more delicious – solution than our lamb barbacoa with cilantro-lime rice and corn elote salad recipe. With the perfect combination of spice, rich lamb flavors, and unique complementary sides, this dish is guaranteed to please.
Why We Love This Lamb Recipe
This vacation to south of the border doesn’t require a passport, just a quick trip to your local grocery store. From the uniquely subtle earthy flavor of New Zealand lamb, coated in a distinctly spicy and tangy barbacoa marinade, to the bright and herbaceous bed of cilantro-lime rice with a side of authentic, spicy, and refreshing corn elote salad drizzled with vibrant chipotle crema, your taste buds will thank you for this one!
Tools You’ll Need Before You Start
- Food Processor
- Dutch Oven
- 1 Large Cast-Iron Pan
- 1 Fine Mesh Strainer
- 1 Medium-Sized Sauce Pot with Lid
- 1 Medium Bowl
How to Make Lamb Barbacoa with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Corn Elote Salad
You’ll need to plan a little ahead to execute this dish, but we promise it’s worth it! That’s because it’s made with a 3.5 lb. Omaha Steaks New Zealand Boneless Leg of Lamb. This 100% pasture-raised and grass-fed succulent New Zealand favorite is well-marbled and lean, yet robust, making it the ideal base for this exquisite meal.
1. Ohh, Barba-Barbacoa (Marinade)
If you love the rich, pastoral exquisiteness of an Omaha Steaks New Zealand Boneless Leg of Lamb but want to add a little more spice to your bite, this barbacoa marinade is ready to heat things up. While the lengthy list of ingredients makes this marinade sound complicated, creating it couldn’t be any easier! Simply add your sweet and hot guajillo chiles, nutty and spicy chile de arbol, savory beef broth, kosher salt, strong oregano, earthy cumin, mild chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, woody cinnamon, salty and citrusy Tajin classic seasoning, sweet agave nectar, sour apple cider vinegar, rich and light olive oil, spicy chipotle pepper and sauce, bold Goya Tomato Sofrito cooking base, citrusy juice of one whole navel orange, and peppery garlic cloves to a food processor, blend until completely emulsified, and set aside for later. And that’s it!
Chef’s Note: If you’re only craving a hint of spice, this marinade – which is a 6.5/10 on the spicy scale – may be a little too caliente for you. But don’t worry, you can tone down the heat factor by leaving out the chile de arbol and using only half a chipotle pepper!
2. There’s Nothing Little About This Lamb
You’ll start prepping this savory beauty a day ahead of time by thawing your 3.5 lb. Omaha Steaks New Zealand Boneless Leg of Lamb in the refrigerator for 24 to 26 hours. Once thawed, take it out of the refrigerator and remove the butcher’s twine holding its shape, then pat it dry with a paper towel, season generously on all sides with basic salt and pepper, and then allow it to come to room temperature on the counter for one hour.
While it’s coming to room temperature, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line the bottom of your Dutch oven with your citrusy orange and sharp and potent onion slices and set aside. Next, add high-smoke point grapeseed oil to a large cast-iron pan and bring it to medium-high heat. Sear the lamb for two minutes on each side to create a nice, browned crust, then place it in your Dutch oven on top of the orange and onion slices. Pour your handmade Barbacoa marinade over the lamb and shake the Dutch oven to ensure the marinade spreads evenly across the bottom, then add your herbaceous bay leaves and place in your preheated oven.
Now it’s time to cook! Bring your pastoral lamb to fork-tender perfection over 3 1/2 to 4 hours, checking for doneness at the 3-hour mark. Once it’s wonderfully succulent, take your Dutch oven out of the oven, remove the lamb, and place it in your clean large cast-iron pan or an oven-proof serving dish. Then shred it with two forks, discarding any unwanted fat. And finally, strain the braising liquid from your Dutch oven and pour the desired amount of this liquid gold over your lamb, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Variety is the Rice of Life
This cilantro-lime rice is more than a side dish, it’s the perfect complement to this robust and sophisticated meal. The best part? It’s as easy to make as it is to enjoy! First, rinse your uncooked nutty, slightly spicy, basmati rice in a fine mesh strainer for about one minute, then allow it to drain. Next, add your light olive oil and pungent garlic to a medium-sized sauce pot and sauté on medium heat until fragrant, which should only take about 30 seconds. Once fragrant, add your citrusy lime juice and then continue to sauté for another 20 seconds.
Now you’re ready to add the savory chicken stock, washed rice, creamy butter, and salt to the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and then cook for 15 minutes. Finally, keeping the lid on, remove it from the heat, allow rice to steam for 10 minutes, and then simply fluff with a fork before stirring in your fresh and tango cilantro. And if you’re feeling adventurous, sprinkle some more cilantro on top for garnish!
4. Craft a Crema with a Kick
Add even more spice to this caliente cuisine with this delightfully easy crema. Just add your creamy and slightly sour Mexican crema or sour cream, acidic lime juice, spicy chipotle pepper, delicate and mild rice wine vinegar, savory yet sweet Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to your food processor and blend until all ingredients are well incorporated, seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed!
5. Not All Salads Are Green
Indulge in a Mexican classic from the comfort of home with this simple and delicious corn elote salad. To get started, preheat your grill to medium-high heat and toss your sweet corn with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper while it heats up. Next, grill your corn until it’s wonderfully tender and golden brown, which should take about five minutes on each side.
Now remove the corn from the grill and cut all the kernels off the cob, add them to a medium bowl, then toss them with a pinch of salt and pepper, citrusy lime juice, and tangy cilantro. Top your mixture with the homemade chipotle crema, crumbly and salty Cotija cheese, and the remaining cilantro, then sprinkle with sweet and mild smoked paprika. Lastly, while your grill is still hot, use it to warm your flour tortillas until they’re lightly charred, which should only take about 15 seconds on each side.
Serve your lamb with the cilantro rice, corn elote salad, and warm tortillas and enjoy!
Lamb Barbacoa with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Corn Elote Salad
- 2 dried guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed
- 2 dried chile de arbol, seeds and stems removed
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Tajin classic seasoning
- 2 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 chipotle pepper from a can and 2 tablespoons chipotle sauce
- 2 tablespoons Goya Tomato Sofrito cooking base
- Juice of 1 whole navel orange
- 5 garlic cloves
Leg of Lamb
- 1 3.5 lb. Omaha Steaks New Zealand Boneless Leg of Lamb
- 3 large bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 5 crosswise slices
- 1 navel orange, cut into 5 crosswise slices
- Barbacoa marinade
- 10 to 12 flour tortillas
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1/2 a whole lime
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro plus additional cilantro for garnish
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Corn Elote Salad
- 6 ears of corn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 oz. Cotija cheese
- Chipotle crema
- Smoked paprika
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely emulsified; set aside.
- Chef’s Note: Marinade is a 6.5/10 on the spicy scale. To make marinade less spicy, omit chile de arbol and use only half a chipotle pepper.
Leg of Lamb
- Thaw leg of lamb in refrigerator for 24 to 26 hours.
- Take lamb out of refrigerator and remove butcher’s twine.
- Pat dry with paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides; allow lamb to come to room temperature on counter for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with orange and onion slices; set aside.
- Add grapeseed oil to a large cast-iron pan and bring to medium-high heat.
- Sear lamb on all sides to get a nice, browned crust – about 2 minutes on each side.
- Place seared lamb in Dutch oven on top of orange and onion slices and pour Barbacoa marinade over it; shake Dutch oven to disperse marinade evenly across the bottom and add bay leaves.
- Put Dutch oven in preheated oven and cook for 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours until fork-tender, checking for doneness at the 3-hour mark.
- Remove lamb from oven and place in clean large cast-iron pan or oven-proof serving dish and shred with 2 forks, discarding any unwanted fat.
- Strain the braising liquid from Dutch oven and pour desired amount of liquid over lamb; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with cilantro rice, corn elote salad, and warm tortillas.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to thoroughly rinse rice with cold water for about 1 minute and then drain.
- Add olive oil and garlic to medium-sized sauce pot and sauté on medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add lime juice and continue sautéing for another 20 seconds.
- Add chicken stock, rice, butter, and salt to sauce pot and bring to a boil.
- Cover with a lid, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.
- With lid still on, remove from heat and let steam for 10 minutes, then fluff with fork and stir in cilantro.
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully incorporated; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Corn Elote Salad
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Toss corn with olive oil, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
- Grill corn until tender and golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.
- Remove from grill and cut kernels off cob.
- In a medium bowl, toss corn kernels with a pinch of salt and pepper, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon cilantro.
- Top with chipotle crema, Cotija cheese, and remaining cilantro and sprinkle with smoked paprika.
- While grill is still hot, warm flour tortillas for about 15 seconds on each side until lightly charred.
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