Cook12 hrs 30 mins
These are fragrant parcels of succulent meat seasoned with mildly sweet Guajillo Chiles. Everyone swoons over these. Cook's Note: meat can be marinated, in bowl or enclosed in banana-leaf packages, up to 24 hours. Meat is best eaten from freshly baked banana-leaf packages, but left overs will keep for 3 days. Reheat, wrapped in foil, in a 350°F oven, 20 to 30 minutes. From Gourmet magazine Sept. 2007.
- 3 ounces dried guajillo chilies (12 - 18) or 3 ounces new mexico peppers, wiped clean (12 - 18)
- 3 tablespoons annatto seeds (achiote seeds)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 6 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 16 (2 to 3-inch) or 6 lbs lamb shoulder, with bone cut into 16 (2 to 3-inch)
- 3 banana leaves, thawed if frozen (from a 1-lb. package) or 1 parchment paper, cut into 8 pieces (11-inch-square)
- 8 turkish bay leaves or 4 california bay leaves
- white rice
- Fill a 2-quart saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, slit chiles lengthwise, then stem, seed, and devein.
- Add chiles to boiling water and remove from heat. Let stand, uncovered, until chiles are softened and have turned a brighter red, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast annatto and cumin seeds in a dry small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then grind seeds to a powder in a grinder or mini food processor.
- Transfer chiles to a blender, then add 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid, ground seeds, garlic, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Blend until smooth, at least 2 minutes. Pour sauce into a large (3 to 4 -quart)shallow container and cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle meat with 2 teaspoons salt, then add to sauce and turn meat to coat using tongs or your hands (wear protective gloves to prevent staining). Marinate meat, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
- Holding both ends of a banana leaf, drag leaf slowly over a burner on medium-high heat until it changes color slightly and becomes shinier. Repeat on other side of leaf, then toast remaining banana leaves.
- Cut off tough edges from banana leaves with kitchen shears, then cut 8 (11-inch square) pieces from leaves, discarding remainder. Put each leaf on a 12-inch-square piece of foil, then arrange 2 pieces of meat and some sauce in center of each leaf, using all of sauce, and top each mound with a bay leaf (or if using California leaves, with half a bay leaf). Fold in all 4 sides of each banana leaf to enclose meat, then wrap tightly in foil. Arrange packages, seam sides up, in 1 layer in a large roasting pan and add just enough water to measure 1/8 inch in bottom of pan (about 2 cups).
- Bake adding more water as necessary to prevent pan from becoming dry, until meat is tender and falling off the bone (open 1 package to test), about 3 1/2 hours for beef or 2 1/2 hours for lamb.
- Discard foil and bay leaves and serve meat in banana leaves if desired (do not eat banana leaves).