Twice Cooked Five Spice Lamb with Red Chiles

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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6 large meaty lamb shanks (about 7-1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. plus 6 cups water, divided
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup black vinegar (can be found in Asian markets)
1 (5″) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
12 whole star anise
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 (2″) dried red chiles (use de arbol or japones)
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the lamb. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 15 minutes. Drain the meat and set aside.

Combine the sugar and 6 Tbsp. of water in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil without stirring until the caramel is a deep amber color, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirling the pan, about 8 minutes, depending on the pan. Remove from the heat and add 3 cups of water, soy sauce and black vinegar to the caramel. Stir over medium heat to dissolve any of the caramel bits. Transfer the caramel mixture to a very large wide pot. Add the remaining 3 cups of water, ginger, star of anise, garlic, chiles and five-spice powder, then add the lamb shanks. Bring to a boil (the liquid will not cover the shanks completely). Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover tightly, and simmer until the lamb is very tender, turning occasionally, about 3 hours.

Transfer the lamb to a work surface. Skim any fat from the sauce and discard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Remove the meat from the bones in bite-size pieces and discard the bones. Return the meat to the sauce in the pot.

(Can be made 1 day ahead of time. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.)

Bring the lamb and sauce to a simmer and transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Yields 8 servings.

Recipe from Bon App├ętit Magazine, February 2007.