09.05.10: dinner (ancho-braised lamb tacos)

Braised Lamb Tacos with Shallots and Cheddar Cheese

“I want to braise a tongue and make tacos like the kind we had at La Esquina,” Michael said to me on a grey and slightly unseasonably cool Sunday.

My mind immediately goes back to the Friday a week prior and us leaning against an outdoor counter while wolfing down various tacos and remembering in particular how good the veal tongue ones were. “Sound fine to me. Do you have a recipe?”

“Lemme do a quick search. I’ll find something.” Alas, this idea was not to be. This time, anyway.

Living here, and especially living so close to a Fairway, has made us a bit spoiled when it comes to our culinary ambitions. The second we see something that strikes our fancy that would normally seem too exotic to be carried in a grocery store, it’s easy to assume that Fairway will probably have what we want; after all, this is a place that has a huge cold room in which half of the selling space is dedicated to meat. We’ve been able to get duck on a whim more than once, and at Easter it’s shockingly easy to get your hands on a whole lamb to presumably roast over a pit.

Our hubris was checked this time around, however. The cold room was getting a makeover that weekend so stock wasn’t as plentiful as it normally would be, so it shouldn’t have surprised us that the selection of offal would be severely diminished. While we did manage to find a tongue, we saw that it was already cooked and cured–and cost nearly $40. (The price was certainly not right.) Michael was pretty sure that the recipe he had called for fresh tongue, and since we were unwilling to spend so much on an item that we weren’t sure would work anyway, back it went on the shelf. Lesson learned: call ahead to order, or go to one of those specialty butcher shops.

So he browsed the store for an alternative. I was starting to get the chills from being in the cold room for too long so I begged him to make a decision while I stocked up on yogurts, and so some bone-in pieces of lamb for stewing ended up being our consolation prize. Braising them all afternoon perfumed the apartment with an intoxicating, lamby goodness (making it very difficult to concentrate on my Pilates, I might add) and the meat ended up falling completely off the bone, turning the contents of the Le Cruset into a lamb version (kind of) of ropa vieja. Served up with a simple pico de gallo salsa, some gently pickled shallots and some cheese, and we were very pleased with our last-minute in-store improv.

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8 comments
  1. Tongue? Yikes! That’s just something I can’t imagine eating!

  2. angi said:

    The tacos look awesome … you guys recovered perfectly even without finding tongue! By the way, I’m infinitely jealous that you guys are close to the Fairway. Granted, I’ve only seen the place on TV (Top Chef or one of those reality shows) but that place looks incredible!!

    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving me such a lovely comment. Also, good to know it’s hard to find the Archives on there, so I’ve changed things around and hope it’s a bit easier now.

  3. Weili said:

    hi guys! you’re cooking up a storm…. i love it! hope all is well… miss ya.

    • Hey there! Hope all is well–miss you too!!

      • Weili said:

        I’ll be back in CT in December. Let’s get together for lunch or dinner? I’ll meet you in Westport? Say hi to Michael! :)

  4. Kim said:

    $40 for tongue?! For shame!!!! You may have us beat in the selection department (oh, our meat selections suck), but the West Coast kiddies can get tongue for about $0.49/lb. :)

    [K]

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