Recipe: Barbacoa Mexicana Barbecue From Mexico City

Title: Barbacoa Mexicana (Barbecue From Mexico City)
Categories: Mexican, Lamb, Ceideburg 2
Yield: 1 servings

1 Lamb, cut into pieces *
Maguey leaves
Ingredients for Barbecue

* backbone, legs, shoulders, ribs, and head

To further explore the international links of various cuisines, check
out this one and remember a few months back when we were talking abou
the Pacific Island custom of cooking in pits. I didn't realize that
the Mexicans also had such a practice. Here's a series of recipes
revolving around Mexican Barbacoa or BBQ.

To be very authentic, use a lamb which has been slaughtered the day
before the cookout and hung overnight. On the day of the big event,
the animal is split into sections: backbone, legs, shoulders, ribs,
and head.


We assume that no one would tackle this kind of barbecue without a
large number of guests-the kind who really like to pitch in. So, the
first thing to do is to set one group of your guests to digging a
hole about four feet by two feet across. Other members of the party
can scout up kindling and others can be set to work cleaning each
maguey leaf.

Once the hole is dug, it is plastered with mud to keep the walls firm.
Large porous stones should then be placed in the bottom of the pit
(beware of little hard rocks; they'll split open). Over the stones
put enough dry wood to fill the pit, then set fire to the wood and
let it burn to the smokeless coal stage. While the fire is burning
down, the maguey leaves should be toasted until limp, for this will
enable them to release precious juices needed to season the meat.

When the fire has burned down sufficiently, line the pit with the
maguey leaves, making sure that all of the mud is covered so meat
will not stick to pit. The leaves should be suspended vertically,
the tips overlapping all the way around and held down with stones for
the moment.

The next step is to lower a grate into the hole and on it place the
casserole with soup ingredients. On top of the uncovered casserole
ingredients, arrange the lamb pieces, starting with the backbone,
then the legs, shoulders, rib sections, and the head. Do not salt
meat before it is cooked, for this can toughen it.

After meat is in the pit, fold the tips of the maguey leaves into the
hole to cover the meat well. Over this place a metal sheet to keep
any earth from seeping into the pit and then seal the pit with a coat
of fresh mud and build a large fire over the metal sheet and mud

Keep the fire blazing for 5 or 6 hours, depending upon the age of the
meat. Open the pit, salt the meat before serving it, and accompany it
with Salsa Borracha*. The broth is served in small cups.

* See Shepherd's Roast with Drunken Sauce for recipe.

From "The Art of Mexican Cooking" by Jan Aaron and Sachs Salom.
Doubleday and Company, N.Y., 1965.

Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; March 9 1993.

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