We learned how to make this dish from Josefina Howard of Rosa Mexicano in New York City. In Mexico, the meat was traditionally steamed in the peelings of maguey leaves, but Howard advised us to use parchment paper instead.

Steamed Spicy Lamb Shanks Steamed Spicy Lamb Shanks
Steaming the lamb makes the meat so tender it falls off the bone
Yield: serves 4


  • 8 dried guajillo chiles
  • 8 dried ancho chiles
  • 6 dried pasilla chiles
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 12 tsp. dried oregano
  • 12 tsp. dried thyme
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 (12-oz.) bottle of beer


  1. Wash guajillos, anchos, and pasillas. Remove stems, veins, and seeds. Cover with boiling water and soak 1 hour. Drain, reserving water.
  2. Combine chiles, cumin, oregano, thyme, cloves, bay leaves, garlic, vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup of soaking water in a blender or food processor. Purée into a thick paste. Coat lamb shanks and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  3. Place each shank in the center of a piece of parchment paper. Make a loose package, and tie with kitchen string.
  4. Bring beer and 2 cups water to a boil in a large steamer over medium heat. Place shanks on rack above liquid. Cover and steam, add water as needed, until meat falls from the bone (open one to check), about 2 hours. To serve, present shanks in their packages and untie at the table.