(Barbacoa de Cordero)
Aaron Sanchez prepared this on FoodTV in 2003, and I just had to try it. It's a lot of work but well worth it for your celebration dinner.

NOTE: ***Fresh avocado leaves are toxic, they must be dried to be used for cooking. A good substitute is banana leaves or dried corn husks. I prefer to use dried corn husks soaked a few hours in water. Feel free to leave any of them out.
Recipe: On Melting Pot (Food TV 5/1/03)
Serves: 8

4 dried guajillo chiles
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
10 whole allspice berries
1/3 cup Mexican oregano
12 sprigs fresh tHyme
6 cloves garlic
1 Spanish onions -- coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 lamb shoulder (6-8 pounds)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 package dried avocado leaves (about 2 lbs.)***

Toast chiles, cover with boiling water in a deep bowl, and set aside for 20 minutes. In a spice grinder or coffee grinder, place cumin seeds, cloves, allspice, and oregano; process until coarsely ground. Drain soaked chiles and place into a blender. Add the ground spices, leaves from the thyme sprigs, garlic, onion, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Process until smooth, adding a little more of the soaking liquid if needed. Push mixture through a sieve and set aside. Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Rub paste all over the meat. Arrange in a bowl; cover and allow to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight, refrigerated. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a deep roaster pan with non-stick cooking spray.

If using avocado leaves, banana leaves, or soaked corn husks, scatter half of them on the bottom evenly in a single layer to cover. Then place meat on top of the leaves and scatter the remaining leaves over the meat.

If omitting the any or all of the leaves, then cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook the lamb about 4 hours or until meat is falling off the bone. Check occasionally to be sure the meat is not scorching on the bottom of the pan. If so, turn the meat, add a little olive oil and continue roasting.

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