Mixiote are seasoned packets of lamb, rabbit or chicken that are wrapped in agave and steamed on the stovetop or cooked in a barbecue pit (mixiote refers to the thin layer of membrane found in the agave stalk). Since not everyone has easy access to fresh agave, parchment paper makes a fine substitute. The secret to the dish, which is a great addition to a Noche Buena feast, is the marinade: an adobo made with full-flavored dried chiles, warm spices and dried avocado leaves. If you can’t get the last, a combination of bay leaves and mint adds a similar herbiness and liveliness to the dish.
six 12-by-16-inch parchment rectangles; six 8-inch twine pieces
Sprinkle the lamb with 2 teaspoons salt on both sides and transfer to a nonreactive bowl or large resealable plastic bag. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the adobo.
Set a dry skillet or comal over medium heat. Add the guajillos, allspice, garlic, anchos, moritas, cloves and cinnamon and toast until the chiles are dark in spots and the spices are fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic.
Add the toasted chiles to a small saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, pressing on the chiles to submerge them. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the chiles are fully softened and pulpy, 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a blender (discard the soaking water). Add the reserved toasted spices and peeled garlic, broth, vinegar, oregano, thyme, onion and 2 teaspoons salt. Puree until completely smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup adobo in a container and refrigerate. Pour the rest of the adobo all over the lamb until completely coated. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
When ready to cook, lay out six 12-by-16-inch parchment rectangles. Place a piece of lamb on each and top with a spoonful of reserved adobo and 1 avocado leaf (or 1 bay leaf and 1 mint sprig). Carefully fold each corner of one of the parchment rectangles towards the center, tie it tightly with twine and trim any excess parchment. Repeat with the remaining parchment rectangles.
Set up a steamer pot with water in the bottom and a steamer basket above the water level and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling and steam is coming out, place the lamb packets in the steamer basket in a single layer. Cover tightly, lower the heat to medium and steam, checking occasionally to make sure there's enough water in the bottom, until the lamb is tender and nearly falling apart, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Serve the packets directly on a plate with sliced limes, a side of rice pilaf and warm tortillas.
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