March 08, 2021

Lamb Tamale With Mole Rojo, Crema, Cotija Cheese & Pickled Onions

Recipe by Chef Nick Kubitz
Serves 4-6


Pickled Onions
  • 1 Small Red Onion (thin Julienned)
  • 1 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
Mole Rojo
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion (Julienned)
  • 5 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Roma Tomatoes (Halved Lengthwise)
  • 4 Tomatillos (Peeled & Halved Lengthwise)
  • 6 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 5 Dried New Mexico Chiles (Stems Removed & Deseeded)
  • 5 Dried Guajillo Chiles (Stems Removed & Deseeded)
  • 3 Dried Ancho Chiles (Stems Removed & Deseeded)
  • 2 Corn Tortillas (Charred Over The Stove & Broken Into Chunks)
  • 3 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Mexican Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Almonds
  • 1 Tbsp Pecans
  • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
Lamb Tamale Filling
  • 2 Lbs Boneless Leg of Lamb (Cut Into 2 Inch Chunks)
  • 1/2 Cup Mole Rojo
  • 6-8 Cups Water
  • 3 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
Lamb Tamale
  • 12-16 Dried Corn Husks
  • 2 1/2 Cups Masa Harina
  • 1 1/2-2 Cups Reserved Lamb Cooking Liquid
  • 2/3 Cups Lard
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Mexican Crema
  • 1/2 Cup Cotija Cheese (Crumbled)
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro (Cleaned & Leaves Picked)


  • Pickled Onions

    Add the julienned red onions to a small heat proof bowl or mason jar.
    Add vinegar, water, sugar and kosher salt to a small sauce pot, and turn
    on to high heat. Once vinegar mixture comes to a boil, pour over the
    julienned onions to pickle. Set in the refrigerator to cool. Use to garnish lamb tamales.


  • Mole Rojo

    Turn the oven to broil and line a sheet tray with aluminum foil.

    Place the onions, halved tomatoes and halved tomatillos on the aluminum lined sheet tray. Place in the oven to broil. Broil until the onions, tomatoes and tomatillos begin to char. Set aside.

    Add the canola oil to a large sauce pot and turn to high heat. Add all of the dried chiles to the hot oil to toast. Stir constantly so they do not burn. Add the garlic cloves, cumin, coriander, oregano, black pepper, and a large pinch of kosher salt. Sauté the ingredients for a few minutes continuing to constantly stir. Add the pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and pecans. Continue stirring until nuts and seeds begin to toast. Make sure they do not burn. Add the roasted onion, tomatoes, and tomatillos to the chili mixture. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock, Mexican chocolate, and charred tortilla pieces. Lower heat to a
    simmer. Continue cooking while occasionally stirring, until the chiles are rehydrated and tender. Add ingredients to a blender and blend in batches until completely smooth. Add blended mole back to a sauce pot and bring to a low simmer. Cook mole for another 15-20 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.


  • Lamb Tamale Filling

    Add canola oil to a large sauce pot on high heat. Sear the lamb chunks until browned all over, and then season with kosher salt. Cover the seared lamb with water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the lamb until fork tender. When the lamb is tender, remove it from cooking liquid and shred. Mix half a cup of the mole into the shredded lamb and set aside to stuff into
    tamales. Save lamb cooking liquid to make tamale dough.


  • Lamb Tamale

    Bring about a gallon of water to a boil, and once boiling remove from the heat and submerge the dried corn husks into the hot water. Cover with a lid and let the corn husks softened for 30 minutes.

    Add the lard and about 2 Tbsp’s of the lamb cooking liquid to a mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip lard mixture until it is smooth, about 3-5 minutes. While the lard is mixing, mix together the masa harina, baking powder, cumin, and salt. Mix masa harina mixture into the lard mixture, and beat together until well mixed. Mix in the lamb cooking liquid a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. The dough should resemble the texture of creamy peanut butter. Once the dough reaches desired consistency, continue mixing on high for a few minutes to make the dough fluffy. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel to keep from drying out.

    To assemble the tamales, lay the soaked corn husks glossy side up. Add about a 1/4 cup of masa mixture to the top of the middle of the wide end of the corn husk. Spread masa down the middle of the corn husk towards the narrow end and the sides of the corn husk into a 1/4 inch thick layer. Make sure to leave enough room on the bottom to fold the bottom of the tamale up for steaming. Place about 2 Tbsp’s of shredded lamb filling down the center of the masa dough lined corn husk. Tightly fold over one side of the tamale over the lamb mixture. Fold the opposite side back over the middle to form the tamale. Fold up the bottom. Complete process until all tamales are formed. Place a steam basket into a large sauce pot with enough water in the bottom to steam the tamales without the water flowing over the steam basket. Place the tamales into the steamer with the opened end facing up. Once all of the tamales are in the steamer, tightly cover top of the steamer with a couple of leftover soaked corn husks. Top with a tight fitting lid and turn on to high heat. Once you hear the water begin to boil, lower to a simmer and steam tamales for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve Tamales unwrapped and topped with hot mole rojo. Drizzle with Mexican crema and sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese. Garnish with pickled onions and picked cilantro leaves and enjoy with LangeTwins River Ranch Petit Verdot!


Chef Nick Kubitz

Our partnerships with talented chefs always start with the wines. When planning for any event, we consider the wine first before we move on to the challenge of asking our team to develop a meal that reflects a unique synergy. We are grateful to have a homegrown guy as one of our ‘aces’ in the kitchen. He is definitely a man who demonstrates a unique sense of tasting, pairing, and creating food recognizing the efforts made in the vineyard to produce our fabulous varietals.

At first glance, Chef Nick Kubitz looks like he should be a bouncer at your favorite club - big, burly, gritty but with a quiet confidence that owns the room. And actually he has clawed his way to the top with those jobs while earning his culinary management and hospitality degree at the Art Institute of California, San Diego. The past decade has found him trying his hand at a BBQ restaurant, managing a food truck, and working alongside Michelin starred chefs in San Francisco.

Kubitz has developed a passion for the best and freshest ingredients that San Joaquin County has to offer, and his past experience of overseeing a large kitchen in a San Francisco tech company allowed him to harness and integrate the tastes of ingredients from around the world to satisfy the many cultures of that particular employee base.

And he is not one to shy aware from pressure – Kubitz has twice joined us at the world-renowned Aspen Food and Wine show creating a series of private food experiences to tease guests away from the main tent headliner chefs. His knowledge of Lodi wines, the appellation, and terroir all layer into the choices he makes in the kitchen to offer what we would consider a ‘perfect pairing’.

We sit up nights trying to figure out how to shackle Kubitz to our kitchen – we block his calendar every chance we get, but support his dream of owning a unique fine dining company called Range – a place that will showcase the range of his talents and experiences.

You’ll find unique crafted recipes from Kubitz within this blog, give them a try and send us your thoughts and of course, a photo of the final product!

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