Birria… Get ready for a very delicious and popular Mexican stew full of savory, earthy and spicy seasonings, with fall apart meat cooked good old slow and low for hours.
This Birria de Res, aka Beef Birria, is so rich and flavorful, all thanks to your patience, as you cook it for hours in a broth of famous Mexican chili peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and a few seasonings...
Then, all you are doing is ladling this stew or consommé into a big serving bowl loaded with classic Mexican toppings like cilantro, onions, radishes, creamy avocado, and a good spritz of lime.
Take a bite with a rolled up warm corn tortilla, or along with that yummy Mexican rice and you, my friend, are eating real authentic Mexican Birria, served just the way it is in so many Mexican households or restaurants.
Oh, and please, don’t just stop there. The real magic happens when you turn this Birria into the next level food experience… Quesabirria tacos!! (Our next post… stay tuned)
For now, lets just talk about Birria, the base of Birria Tacos. This Birria is a meal in itself for those cozy stew nights. Stews are such a comfort food in so many cultures, and this Birria is no exception. Sure it takes time, but the end result is so special and exceptional.
You can make it the old traditional way, which is of course on stovetop, but this can be made in your crockpot on lazy days, as well as in an instant pot for a little faster cooking time.
Make a huge pot of this Mexican stew, as this is freezer friendly and you will be set for unlimited tacos or even burritos and quesadillas with this shredded meat.
What is Birria?
Birria (pronounced “bir-ree-uh”) is a Mexican Stew, believed to have originated in the state of Jalisco, although hundreds of variations can be found all over Mexico.
Birria is traditionally made with either goat or sheep’s meat, and it’s a treat cooked for special occasions like weddings, baptisms and holidays.
With its amazing addictive flavors, Birria and consume dunking Birria tacos went beyond the local food carts and restaurants and crossed all over the country, to food trucks and restaurants in Arizona and California.
Thanks to the Instagram and Pinterest worthy Birria taco dunking craze, people are getting inspired to try this Birria meat in various creative forms like Birria ramen, Birria pho and Birria pizza. But it all this started with this simple stew.
Outside of Mexico, Birria de res (beef Birria) is becoming popular due to the easier accessibility of beef in grocery stores, resulting in the same great flavors and texture.
Whichever meat you choose to make your Birria, it will always be melt in your mouth chunks cooked in a savory and spicy rich broth of chilis and tomatoes.
Now you can serve this broth or consommé as a stew, or chop the meat and load it in tacos and finish them off by dunking in consommé as a dipping sauce.
We are giving you stove top, Crock Pot and Instant Pot methods to cook this Birria. Though some of the methods could be a little faster than others, it would still require a few hours to prep and cook this authentic Mexican stew.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in your pantry, except special Mexican chilis, so plan ahead for this feast.
- Meat – Though in Jalisco Birria is traditionally made with goat or sheep meat, today we are cooking it with beef, as it’s readily available here in the states and is equally finger licking delicious. We are using a thick marbled cut of chuck roast (our first choice of beef cut when it comes to stews and curries). You can also use other beef cuts like beef shank, short ribs, or a combination of all.
- Dried Chili Peppers – Chili peppers are the most integral part of this Mexican stew. Mexican cuisine emphasizes using different types of chilis, according to their preference to spice level. A combination of 2-3 dried chilis would work fantastic for this Birria recipe. We recommend dried ancho chilis (mild with a sweet and fruity flavor), along with dried guajillo chilis (medium heat with earthy notes), and dried árbol chilis (hot and spicy). According to your heat tolerance, you can adjust the árbol chilis, or for a milder version, omit them all together. You can easily find these chilis in the Latin section of your grocery store, or can order online.
- Seasonings and Spices – These vary from household to household, but the most common are oregano, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, coriander powder, thyme, ground clove powder, salt and pepper.
- Aromatics – Garlic and ginger.
- Veggies – Onions, plump Roma tomatoes (or any other ripe juicy fresh tomatoes), tomato paste.
- Vinegar – We are using apple cider vinegar, but in a pinch you can use any available.
- Beef Stock
- Toppings – Cilantro, lime wedges, sliced jalapeños, diced avocados, red or pickled onions.
How to Make Birria (Stove-top, Crock Pot and Instant Pot)
All these methods would have similar prepping steps. Here they are.
1. Dry toast and rehydrate the chilis: Toasting the chilis adds great depth to the stew. Cut the stems off and make a slit along the side to open them and discard the seeds. Dry toast them in a hot pan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant (don’t burn them, as they can turn bitter). Put them in a bowl, pour in a cup of hot water, and let it sit for 20 minutes.
2. Sauté the veggies: Heat oil and sauté the onion, garlic and tomato until softened. Then transfer the veggies to a blender.
3. Make the Birria sauce: In the blender, blend the above veggie mixture along with rehydrated chilis, spices and herbs, ginger, vinegar, tomato paste and beef stock. Blend it till the mixture is completely smooth.
4. Prepare and sear the meat: Cut the chuck roast into large chunks and generously season it with salt and pepper.
We always like to sear the meat before putting it in the stew, as it adds tons of flavors. Heat the oil in the stew pot and brown the meat on all sides.
5. Cook Birria: Then combine the meat with the Birria sauce, along with the rest of the beef stock and cook it until tender in the:
- Stovetop Birria: Cover and cook over low heat on the stovetop for 4 to 6 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. Keep an eye on the stew and stir it every 20 minutes or so, as not to burn the meat at the bottom.
- Instant Pot Birria: Seal the lid, and pressure cook on high for 45 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release.
- Crock-Pot Birria: Cover and slow cook on low for 9 hours, or until the meat is completely tender.
6. Shred the meat: When the stew is ready, you can cut or shred the beef into your desired bite sized pieces. Taste and adjust the seasonings like salt and pepper.
Some Birria Variations
- Use different meat: Try making it the traditional way using goat, lamb or sheep. The flavors and textures would be different.
- Play with spices and seasonings: You can experiment adding different spices and herbs like smoked paprika, allspice or marjoram for different flavor profile. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less árbol chilis according to your heat preference.
- Use canned tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes for a little different taste profile.
- For a thinner consommé, strain the Birria sauce after blending.
How to Serve Birria
You can serve Birria in a lot of ways. Some traditional and conventional, and some very creative…
1. Serve it as stew: Serve it in a bowl with lots of beef chunks and generous amounts of consommé. Top it with your favorite toppings like chopped cilantro, diced onions, avocado and lime wedges. You can pair Birria with warm corn tortillas to dip in it, or have a side of Mexican rice, which goes beautifully as a side to Birria.
2. All of your other Mexican favorites: You can use this Birria shredded meat for all other Mexican dishes like burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, enchiladas, taquitos, taco bowls, taco salads and so forth.
3. How about Birria ramen? Just add extra broth, noodles, veggies and toppings of your choice, along with delicious Birria meat. How cool…
4. But the award goes to Birria tacos (our most favorite): Known as Quesabirria tacos, or red tacos, they’re a very popular way to use Birria. They are crispy fried tacos with generous amounts of shredded Birria meat along with cheese.
You dunk them in Birria consommé and they are the ultimate taco experience. We will tell you all about it in our very next post.
Until then, start gathering all the ingredients… 🙂
Beef Birria, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 5 dried ancho chiles
- 5 dried guajillo chiles
- 2-3 Chiles de árbol (see note 1)
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cloves, ground into powder
- 3-3.5 lbs chuck roast, cut into large chunks
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 4 cups beef stock
Toppings and garnishing
- Cilantro, chopped
- Lime, cut into wedges
- Onion, chopped
- Avocado, diced
- Dry toast and rehydrate the chilis: Cut the stems off and make a slit along the side to open them and discard the seeds. Dry toast them in hot pan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant (don’t burn them, as they can turn bitter). Put them in a bowl, pour in a cup of hot water, and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Sauté the veggies: Heat oil and Sauté the onion, garlic and tomato until softened. Then transfer the veggies to the blender.
- Make Birria Sauce: In the blender, blend above veggie mixture along with rehydrated chilis, spices and herbs (oregano, cumin, cinnamon, coriander powder, ground clove, thyme, salt and pepper), apple cider vinegar, ginger, tomato paste, and 1 cup of beef stock. Blend it till the mixture in completely smooth.
- Prepare and sear the meat: Cut the chuck roast into large chunks and generously season it with salt and pepper. We always like to sear the meat before putting it in the stew, as it adds tons of flavors. Heat the oil in the stew pot and brown the meat on all sides.
- In a big stew pot, combine the meat with the Birria sauce. Add in 4 cups of beef stock. Cover and cook over low heat on the stovetop for 4 to 6 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. Keep an eye on the stew and stir it every 20 minutes or so, as not to burn the meat at the bottom.
- Shred the meat: When the stew is ready, you can cut or shred the beef into your desired bite size pieces. Taste and adjust the seasonings like salt and pepper.
- Serve the Birria in bowls (the beef along with its broth) garnished with lots of your favorite toppings, with a side of warm tortillas or Mexican rice.
Stove Top Method
Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) Method
- Make the Birria sauce and sear the meat, as instructed above.
- Combine meat and sauce in a large crockpot, along with 4 cups of beef stock. Cover and slow cook on low for 9 hours, or until the meat is completely tender.
Instant Pot Method
- Make the Birria sauce and sear the meat in the instant pot on sauté mode.
- Add in birria sauce along with remaining 4 cups of beef stock, and give the mixture a quick toss. Cover and seal the lid.
- Pressure cook on “Manual” for 45 minutes, followed by a quick release.
- Chiles de árbol can be pretty spicy and hot. Use according to your spice tolerance. Start with just 1 if you prefer a milder stew. Alternately, if you prefer spicy, add 3 or more árbol chilis.
Nutrition InformationYield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 432Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 113mgSodium 880mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 4gSugar 7gProtein 39g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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