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Mexican Lamb Adobo

Most of my recipes are fast, accessible, and light. But every once in awhile, I like to enjoy a deeply rich meaty stick-to-your-ribs caveman type of meal. The kind of meal that has you leaning back in your chair in a satisfied adobo sauce-induced stupor.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: egg-free, gluten-free, lamb, meat, nut-free, soy-free, spicy, tacos, tortilla
Servings: 4
Author: ness


  • 4 Lamb shanks (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Adobo Sauce:
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 3 dried ancho chiles (rinsed, stems and seeds removed)
  • 2 guajillo chiles (rinsed, stems and seeds removed)
  • 1 pasilla negro chile (rinsed, stems and seeds removed)
  • one 3" stick of cinnamon
  • 2 teasspoons fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • Garnishes
  • Radishes and fresh cilantro
  • Pickled Onions
  • 1 cup red onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Place a medium sauce pan on medium high heat. Add garlic and toast until browned. Add remaining adobo sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes, when chiles are softened. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick and set aside. Cool slightly and puree until smooth.
  • Combine all pickled onion ingredients together and set aside until lamb is ready, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large dutch oven on medium high heat, add canola oil. Add lamb shanks and brown all over, about 10 minutes. Be patient as this is the most important step. When they are well-browned, add adobo sauce and reserved bay leaves and cinnamon. Cover and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours (depending on the size of your shanks), turning the shanks after 1 hour. The shanks are done when the meat is falling off the bone and fork tender. Skim some of the excess cooking fat from the surface of the gravy with a spoon before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro, radishes, and pickled onions and serve with rice and/or corn tortillas.
Recipe adapted from Elote Cafe Cookbook