Birria - A Mexican Beef Stew
Birria, pronounced 'bi-rria', is a spicy Jaliscan (Jalisciense) stew flavored with a variety of chiles and spices. Originally made with goat then sheep and later beef (carne de res). The term 'birria' translates as 'a mess'. This stew has many ingredients and often looks like a mess, but it tastes great.
Birria can be served in a bowl by pouring the chile broth over the meat and garnishing with cilantro and onion. Food stands or carts in Mexico often serve the meat in corn tortillas and the chile broth on the side for dipping.
The Dried Chiles in this dish are all in the mild to medium heat range and add deliciously layered smokiness and deep flavor. Because there isn't much heat in these chiles you don't have to remove the seeds, but if you prefer to remove them you can add that step before placing them in the pan with water.
- 3 lbs beef chuck or stew meat
- 6 Guajillo Chiles
- 6 Ancho Chiles
- 12 Cascabel Chiles
- 1 onion, chopped
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Organic Ground Ceylon Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Ground Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Ground Mexican Allspice
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 cup of water
- Place the dried chiles in a medium saucepan and add water to cover.
- Place the pan over high heat and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the chiles to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Using tongs, remove the chiles from the saucepan and place them in a blender with about 2 cups of the boiling liquid, half of the chopped onion, the Garlic, Oregano, Black Pepper, Ground Cloves, Ground Cumin, Cinnamon, Thyme and Allspice.
- Blend until smooth but not too thick, adding more of the reserved boiling liquid if needed.
- Place the meat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and add water to just barely cover the meat.
- Add the Bay Leaves, and salt.
- Pour the chile mixture into a mesh strainer.
- Stir and push mixture with a wooden spoon over a bowl until no more liquid can be strained. Discard the remaining paste.
- Add the liquid chile mixture and stir to mix it in.
- Cover the pan, place it over medium heat, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to very low to maintain a bare simmer and cook for about 2 hours, until the meat is fork-tender and falling apart, gently mixing it every 30 minutes and checking the sauce level.
- The meat should be completely covered with braising liquid; if not, add hot water and make sure the heat is not too high.
- Remove Bay Leaves. Using tongs and a fork, break up the meat in the center of a shallow bowl and fill it with broth to cover the meat by three quarters.
- Repeat with the remaining meat and broth.
- Sprinkle on some cilantro and the remaining onion and serve with warm corn tortillas.
NOTE: Keeping the meat covered with braising liquid is important so that the meat cooks evenly and breaks apart for serving.