I spoke to a friend’s nephew, who also went to the Taste of Cape Town, and he told me that his favourite dish of the day was this hot lamb dish. After discussing the dish in more detail, it turned out to be the same lamb barbacoa with the green rice that I enjoyed so much as well.
I searched the Internet to find out more about these dishes and discovered that it is of Mexican origin and that traditionally lamb Baracoa was cooked in a hole dug in the ground! Due to an unfortunate lack of suitable ground to dig a hole and cook in I continued to search for other ways to cook the dish.
Another suggestion was covering the meat with banana leaves and cooking the lamb baracoa on an open fire. Banana leaves aren’t the easiest thing to come by around the peninsula. The best and most practical way of cooking this dish, that I could find, was covering the lamb with foil and cooking it in the oven. I also realized that the most important thing was the marinade; so I devised my own version and cooked the lamb in a Römertopf® – it’s still the best tool to cook a roast in. My Römertopf is quite small and a 2kg piece of lamb fits in snugly.
A barbacoa dish should be marinated for between 2 to 24 hours; I marinated the dish over night. It must be cooked slowly, very slowly until the meat is tender and falls from the bone. Lamb barbacoa can be served with tortillas but I went for the green rice option. I added a dollop of plain yoghurt on top and served it with fresh coriander leaves. If you enjoy hot dishes with loads of spice you need to try this one asap!
- 30ml dried chilli flakes
- 250ml water
- 2 chillies, seeded
- 30ml apple cider vinegar
- 3 to 4 mini Italian tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 5ml dried oregano
- 5ml all spice
- 5ml cumin
- 1cinnamon stick
- 2kg leg of lamb or lamb shoulder
- Salt and freshly grounded pepper to taste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- Toast the dried chilli flakes in a saucepan for approximately one minute. Add the water and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Place the seeded chillies, apple cider vinegar, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, all spice and cumin into a blender with the chilli water and blend until smooth.
- Make some slashes into the meat with a sharp knife and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place into a marinade dish and pour the marinade over. Place the cinnamon stick into the dish. Place the meat into the refrigerator and marinade the meat for 2 to 24 hours. Remove the meat from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 150⁰C.
- Place the chopped onion and carrots into a roasting dish with the lamb roast on top. Pour the marinade over the lamb. Cover with foil. (Or place the carrots and onions in a Römertopf. Place the meat on top and pour the marinade over. Cover with the lid and cook in the oven.)
- Cook in the pre-heated oven for approximately 4 hours, until the lamb is tender and falls from the bone.
- Remove from the oven and rest for 20 minutes. Shred the meat and serve with the green rice.