This dish is particularly special for me because it comes from Guadelajara, the place that I was born. You can use any meat you like - chicken or pork - but my favourite is always lamb.
- 3 tsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 8 large dried guajillo chillies, whole (see Note)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 cup (250 ml) tomato puree
- 45 ml apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 450 g (16 oz) boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes
- 8 banana leaves
- 3 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped, optional
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped, optional
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.
2. To make a marinade for the lamb, heat olive oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Add guajillo chillies and garlic and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Remove pan from heat.
3. Chop chillies into small pieces. Transfer garlic and chilli to the bowl of a food processor with tomato puree, apple cider vinegar, cumin, and 1/8 tsp each of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. If the marinade is too thick, add a splash of water and blend until incorporated.
4. Place lamb into a large bowl. Season lamb with salt and pepper, and pour marinade over top. Gently massage the marinade into the lamb, to coat.
5. On a clean cutting board, lay one banana leaf lengthwise. Place a second banana leaf across the first to form an x shape. Spoon one-quarter of the marinated meat into the centre of the banana leaves. Sprinkle some oregano over the meat. Fold the ends of the bottom banana leaf into the centre and pinch closed. Fold the ends of the second banana leaf into the centre to join and pinch the ends together to form a bundle. Using butcher twine, tie the bundle closed. Repeat with remaining banana leaves and lamb.
6. Place stuffed banana leaves on a rack in the bottom of a deep baking dish. Pour water into the bottom of the baking dish, making sure the water sits below the rack. Cover the baking dish. Cook lamb for 3 hours.
7. Remove lamb from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before unwrapping the lamb. Open each stuffed birria de cordero and top with sliced jalapenos and onions, if using. Serve immediately.
• Find guajillo chillies at Mexican and South American specialist retailers.