Lamb tacos with vermouth-soaked chickpeas

One way to make a simple meal feel special is to use lamb. Lamb always tastes a little fancy, and a little like a celebration, and these lamb tacos are no exception. Last night we made easy tacos but jazzed them up by using ground lamb in place of ground beef and soaking the chickpeas in vermouth before cooking them with cumin, butter and chipotle. I also used fresh Savoy cabbage from my garden in place of tortillas for a fresh crunch you just can’t get anywhere else but from fresh cabbage.

While lamb usually goes better with Middle Eastern spices and flavor profiles, I found that this taco seasoning perfectly set off the richness of the meat. Lamb is really more versatile than we give it credit for, and it goes with a variety of cuisines.

The chickpeas complement the lamb tacos

When I make tacos I usually go for black beans or pinto beans, but when I chose lamb as the meat the chickpeas just called out to me. The vermouth gave them a nice flavor and the chipotle added heat that the Siete seasoning doesn’t have. The cumin, well, cumin is just my favorite, and I needed an excuse to add it. When you put these together, make sure to drizzle a little of the reduced vermouth sauce over the meat — it adds some complexity to the flavor of an otherwise simple dish.

Cheese choice is also important — use what you like, but note that this is a dish that needs something special. I used a shredded gruyere/swiss combo, and it was excellent. Next attempt, I might add some tanginess by using feta or goat cheese crumbles in this dish. A little cilantro on top also goes a long way, and if I were making this dish again I would add some diced red onion.

Lamb tacos

Course dinner
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 package taco seasoning I prefer Siete
  • 1/4 tsp salt for the taco meat
  • 15 oz chickpeas, canned
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt for the chickpeas
  • tortillas or cabbage leaves
  • cheese of choice I used a swiss/gruyere shredded combo
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro for garnishing the top of the tacos

Instructions

Taco meat

  • Saute the ground lamb with 1/4 tsp salt and the taco seasoning. I use Siete because it doesn't have any gross additives and has the best flavor. Stir the meat, chopping it into tiny chunks and blending the seasonings, until it's almost cooked through, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer, partially covered, about 20 minutes.

For the chickpeas

  • Drain the chickpeas and place into a saucepan. Cover with the 1/4 cup vermouth, and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes. Turn on the heat and bring them to a simmer. Add the chipotle, salt and cumin, and simmer until the vermouth cooks down to a slightly thick sauce.

Putting it together

  • place some taco meat on a tortilla or cabbage leaf, then top with a few of the chickpeas, and the cheese of your choice (feta would also work well here). I also added about a teaspoon of salsa to each "taco" (I prefer the cabbage leaves to tortillas on this dish).

For another tasty lamb dish, click here.

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