A favorite at traditional Mexican parties, this slow-roasted meat picks up a rich, delectable flavor from the surrounding cactus leaves. It’s unlike anything you’ve tried, and well worth the effort if you’re feeling adventurous.
|18–20||pounds||lamb or beef shanks with bone in*|
|4||large||maguey (century cactus) leaves, prickly edge removed with a sharp knife**|
|~||boiling||water for steaming|
|1||bulb||garlic, broken into cloves|
|~||fresh lemons, quartered|
|*Purchase one pound of shank with bone in per person.
**Each cactus leaf should measure 3 to 4 feet long. You can substitute frozen banana leaves if maguey are not available. The banana leaves are available at Latin and Mexican markets.
Have ready a large steamer pot on the stove.
- Roast the cactus leaves on a stove over an open flame until they darken and become bendable.
- Place the steamer pot on the stove and fill the bottom with boiling water.
- Add the garlic and oregano to the water and set the steamer basket on top.
- Arrange the lower portions of the cactus leaves in the basket with the upper portions hanging out.
- Place the meat and bones evenly on top of the cactus leaves.
- Fold the cactus leaves evenly on top of the meat.
- Cover the cactus leaves with wet cheesecloth.
- Seal the steamer basket with aluminum foil and cover with a lid.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook until the meat is fork tender. Timing depends on the heat source. It could be approximately three to four hours on a home range, or five to six hours on an outside camp stove.
- Pick the meat from the bones and discard the bones or set them aside for another use.
- Warm the tortillas.
- Fill tortillas with meat, salsa, chopped onions and cilantro.
- Spritz with fresh lemon juice and enjoy.