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Lamb Neck Barbacoa Taco with Pasilla Chiles, Mint Salsa Verde, and Pickled Red Onion



Pasilla Chile Marinade

7 dried pasilla chiles (if you cannot find these substitute ancho chiles)

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 small dried avocado leaves

1 tablespoon sorghum syrup

1 tablespoon banana vinegar (can also use cider vinegar)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Lamb Neck

2 cups wood chips

2 medium-sized lamb necks, about 3 pounds

2 tablespoons salt

1 cup pasilla chile marinade (recipe above)

½ pound banana leaves (optional)

Pickled Red Onions

1 medium-sized red onion

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup water

Mint Salsa Verde

¼ cup cilantro leaves

½ cup mint leaves

1 avocado

¼ cup ice water

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup avocado oil


About 12 house-made corn tortillas or store-bought tortillas


For Lamb Neck

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. First begin charring wood chips in a small sauté pan. You will need to turn on the hood vents.
  3. While the chips are charring rub each lamb neck with 1 tablespoon salt and ½ cup of the pasilla marinade.
  4. If you are using banana leaves wrap each lamb neck in the banana leaves several times over. You can still make this without the banana leaves, it will just not have quite the same flavor.
  5. After the lamb is wrapped, place in a large roasting pan—one with enough room for the lamb and the sauté pan with wood chips.
  6. Have some aluminum foil ready to go. When the chips are smoking, add sauté pan into the roasting pan with the lamb and quickly seal with aluminum foil to trap in the smoke.
  7. Place in oven and cook until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone, about 4 hours. While the lamb is cooking, make the mint salsa verde and pickled red onion.

Pickled Red Onions

  1. Peel and cut the onion in half and finely dice. Place in a nonreactive container and set aside.
  2. In a small pot bring the vinegar and water to a boil. When boiling, pour over the red onion and let cool to room temperature without a lid on.

 Mint Salsa Verde

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil to blanch the herbs. Have an ice bath ready. When the water reaches a boil, add in the mint and cilantro and cook for about 7 seconds. Remove the herbs with a slotted spoon and shock in the ice water. This helps give the salsa a really bright green color.
  2. After the herbs are thoroughly chilled remove from water and squeeze out excess water.
  3. Cut open the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop the inside flesh into a blender.
  4. Add in the blanched herbs, ice water, and salt. Begin pureeing. Slowly drizzle in the avocado oil until mixture is perfectly smooth.
  5. Check the seasoning and store with a sheet of plastic wrap on top to prevent


  1. When the lamb is tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  2. When cool enough to handle, begin pulling off the meat, discarding any tendons you might find.
  3. When you have all the meat shred into smaller pieces, lightly season with salt and keep warm while you prepare the tortillas.
  4. Heat the tortillas in an ungreased sauté pan until hot and wrap in a clean dishtowel to
  5. Take a tortilla and spread about 1 tablespoon of the mint salsa verde over it. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of the pasilla marinade on the tortilla. Place 2 ounces warm lamb neck on top of the sauces. Finish with about 1 tablespoon pickled red onion on top of the lamb. Repeat this process until you are full or run out of lamb.
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