Lamb Barbacoa Dip (Homemade)

Today’s sandwich is the “Lamb Barbacoa Dip.” It combines braised lamb shank and Swiss cheese on a toasted baguette.

Notes: I’m going to be perfectly honest with you on this one. My vision for this sandwich shifted gears about halfway through its preparation.

In my mind, we were going to be riffing on a classic “French Dip,” the sandwich made with thinly sliced beef on a baguette, dipped a bite at a time into a sidecar of au jus, but using the leftovers from last night’s excellent Braised Lamb Shanks.

I stripped the meat from the bone, and chopped it finely. I added it with a little of the braising liquid to a saucepan to allow the meat to heat through. I used too much liquid, though, so I decided that rather than siphon any off, I was just going to let it cook off, continually tossing and stirring the finely shredded lamb in the port wine reduction.

I was delighted to see the leftover meat start to become glazed with a thick, syrupy version of the cooking liquid, condensing and compressing the sweetness of the port and the pleasant funk of the meat into a kind of candied lamb barbecue, more like a lamb barbacoa, or more like the most upscale version of a sloppy joe you have ever had in your life, than like a French Dip sandwich.

Because I was short on other ingredients, I moved on with the rest of my plan, splitting the baguette lengthwise and griddling it in butter, before heaping it with my lamb barbacoa and topping it with a few slices of Swiss. A few minutes under the broiler, and the resulting accidental sandwich was one of the best I’ve had in weeks. Though I strained some of the leftover cooking liquid to serve on the side, I ended up not even using it; warming the meat right in the leftover braising liquid and letting it reduce and reduce imparted not just lots of flavor, but plenty of moisture.

The moral of the story (and Rule Number Three in the “From Away Guide to the Sandwich Arts”) should be this: The beauty of a sandwich, particularly one made with leftovers, is that sometimes you should allow yourself to end up someplace different than you thought you were going. The results can be delicious.

Lamb Barbacoa Dip Sandwich
Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1-1/2 cups of braised lamb shank or shoulder meat, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup leftover braising liquid
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 5-6″ section of a baguette, split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Method:

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine lamb and leftover braising liquid. Cook, stirring often, until liquid evaporates, but meat is still moist and glazed. Spread both cut sides of bread with butter, and toast face-down on a skillet until bread begins to brown. Remove bread and place in baking sheet.

Pile bottom half of bread with lamb, then top with cheese. Broil open-faced until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately, with additional leftover braising liquid on the side, if desired.

Lamb Barbacoa Dip Sandwich

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

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