Slow-Cooked Lamb with a Zinfandel Mole

Yield: 6 portions

I love the taste and texture of a good mole. This adaptation pairs well with Zinfandel. You can make your sauce as mild or as spicy as you’d like, by adding more chilies to the recipe. This version is fairly mild, but remember, as the mole sits, the flavors will expand. It is best to make the mole a day ahead then combine it with some of the lamb “jus” the next day.

Mole

  • 1 each Dried Chili Negra
  • 1 each Dried Pasilla Chili
  • 1 each Dried Chili Mullato

Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers and chop the remaining peppers roughly. Place in a small sauté pan and toast over medium heat until the peppers just begin to toast and color. Remove from the heat and place the peppers in a small bowl.

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Wipe out the sauté pan used for the peppers and toast the sesame seeds until light brown. Add to the peppers.

  • 3/4 cup Zinfandel
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons Golden Raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon Juniper Berries, crushed

Place the wine, cherries, raisins and juniper berries in a small sauce pot and reduce over medium heat until there is less than a ¼ cup of wine left.

  • 1/3 each ripe plantain
  • 10 each  animal crackers
  • 3/4 disk Chocolate “Abuelita”
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch salt

Add the chili-sesame mixture, plantain, animal crackers, Chocolate Abuelita, water and salt into the sauce pot with the wine and fruit. Simmer over medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, and allow it to thicken. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. The mole is ready. Place in a glass jar and allow to “bloom” overnight.

This mole recipe makes more than you will need for the lamb, so use it freely on other dishes as well. It holds for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Zinfandel

The shoulder has plenty of fat (which is rendered out as it cooks) to keep it moist and tender through long slow cooking. The result is flavorful and tender, with a Lamb broth that is enhanced later on by the addition of the mole.

  • 3-4 pounds Lamb shoulder, boneless
  • 1 cup Zinfandel
  • 4 each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, fresh
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • To taste salt and pepper

Directions

Ask your butcher to remove the bones from the lamb shoulder for you and to tie it up as a roast. If they use a “net” for tying the roast, can remove the roast from the net and marinate “open” for best flavor.

Combine all the ingredients and marinate the lamb “open” overnight (if you were able to remove the net) by placing it in a large zip lock bag or by placing it in a baking dish and turning it a few times.

The next day, place it back in the net, or leave it “as is” if you’ve left it tied. If you have a rotisserie on your grill, skewer the shoulder on the spit and cook it over slow heat for 3 or 4 hours with a pan to catch the drippings under it, until the meat is tender enough to be easily pulled apart. It should be golden brown and nicely crisp on the outside.

If you have a grill with a cover, you can start a small fire of coals (or gas fire) on the outer ends of the BBQ and place the meat in the middle with no flame directly below it and cook for the same amount of time as above with the same basic instructions.

The final option is to slow cook it in your oven at 250 degrees. Place the lamb with the marinade in a baking dish, covered for the first 2 hours. Remove the cover and turn the temperature to 300 degrees and cook it until very tender. There should a small amount of  lamb “jus” left in the pan. If it looks like it is going to completely evaporate, add a 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking until it is ready (adding water as needed).

The meat should be moist and tender any way you’ve done it if you’ve kept the temperature low enough. Remove the pork form the heat, allow to cool just a bit and “pull” the meat apart. Remove the fat from the drippings pan and save the juice that has accumulated. Cover the meat and keep warm for serving.

Meanwhile, warm some of the mole and add the pan juices. This will give you a wonderfully flavored sauce to serve with the lamb. Serve the Lamb and Mole with Basmati Rice, Cilantro and freshly chopped tomato and a good glass of Zinfandel!

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