Spiced Lamb Steamed in Maguey Leaves: Mixiotes de Carnero
Mixiotes de carnero are a specialty of the central Mexican states of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Hidalgo. They are flavored with two of the most distinctively Mexican of leaves: avocado leaves, which are enclosed with the meat, and pencas de maguey - the inner layer of maguey leaves - used to wrap the meat. Mixiote wrappers- papel para mixiotes - may be used to wrap the meat, or use plastic baggies and foil. Ingredients:
- 3 ½ pounds of lamb cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup bitter orange juice or ½ sweet orange juice and ½ white vinegar
- ½ head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 ancho chiles, seeded and deveined
- 6 guajillo chiles, seeded and deveined
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 roma tomatoes, roasted and peeled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 12 small new potatoes, cut in 1" cubes
- 6 medium carrots, cut in 1" cubes
- 12 avocado leaves, lightly toasted just to the point of fragrance
- 12 mixiote wrappers or 12 plastic baggies and 12 8" squares of aluminum foil
Salt and pepper the lamb cubes and prick them in several places with a fork. Puree the orange juice with the garlic, marjoram, oregano and bay leaves and pour this mixture into a large, non-reactive bowl. Place the meat cubes in the marinade and set aside while sauce is being prepared.
Soak the chiles in hot water to cover until softened (about 20 minutes) and puree in a blender with the onion and tomatoes. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the puree for 10 minutes.
Remove the lamb cubes from the marinade and evenly divide the lamb cubes, potatoes and carrots among the mixiote wrappers or in the baggies, with an avocado leaf and a few spoonfuls of sauce. Tie each package with kitchen string and, if using baggies, wrap each in foil and seal tightly.
Place mixiotes on a rack in a steamer or stockpot, with water and a coin on the bottom. Cover and steam for 1 ½ -2 hours, adding boiling water to the bottom of the steamer when coin rattles.
To serve, remove foil if used, and place each mixiote in a soup bowl. Each diner unties and unwraps his own, letting the cooking juices flow into the bowl with the meat and vegetables. Traditional accompaniments are salsa verde and corn tortillas.