Beef is a very important ingredient in Mexican dishes. It is very widely used in Mexico and you may find many Mexican beef dishes that are very famous. One such Mexican beef recipe that is very popular during the festivals is birria.
Birria is a spicy meat stew that is originally cooked with mutton or lamb but beef is also sometimes used as a cheaper alternative. Birria mainly gets its savory and spicy flavors from the chili puree that acts as a sauce for the dish. This is a very easy to make and simple dish, but the wonderful flavors have helped it to gain huge popularity.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Servings Per Recipe: 4-6
Time Required For Preparation: 10-15 minutes
Time Required For Cooking: 4-4 ½ hours
1 large pot
1 slotted spoon
1 stirring spoon
1 griddle pan
2 lbs. of top round beef, cubed
4-5 ancho chilies, deseeded
1-2 cascabel chilies, deseeded
2 lbs. of beef ribs, boneless
2 teaspoons of Mexican oregano, crushed
4-5 guajillo chilies, deseeded
2 cups of hot water
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
6-7 sprigs of thyme
2/3rd cup of red wine vinegar
3 quarts of low-sodium beef stock
6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
Salt, to taste
1/3rd cup of finely chopped onion, for serving
3-4 fresh bay leaves
4 lime wedges, for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Method Of Cooking
1. Remove the beef and the beef ribs from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you have planned to cook them. While the meat and the ribs are sitting at room temperature, take the chilies and slice them in half. Then cut out the ribs and remove all the seeds from the chilies.
Once done, set aside the deseeded chilies and place a griddle pan on the stove. Light up the flame and set it on low. Once the griddle pan starts smoking, put the chilies on it and toast them lightly until they start releasing a strong aroma. Shake the griddle pan occasionally to prevent the chilies from burning on one side.
2. Once the chilies are toasted, remove the griddle pan from the stove and turn off the flame. Let the chilies cool down for a few minutes before using them. While the chilies are cooling down, take the onion and cut it in half. Cut off the tip and base of the onion halves and then peel off the skin.
Slice the onion halves along the grain and then chop the slices finely. Once done, set aside the chopped onion and take the garlic cloves. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves and then set them aside.
3. Now take the deseeded chilies and a saucepan. Fill up the saucepan with water and then place it on the stove. Light up the flame and set it on medium high. Let the water come to a boil and then add-in the deseeded chilies. Now turn down the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid.
Let the chilies simmer in the water for 15 minutes and then turn off the flame to let the chilies sit in the water for an additional 5 minutes. Once the time elapses, strain the chilies out of the water and then drain the rest of the cooking liquid by reserving only 2 cups of it for later use. Then put the chilies and the 2 cups of cooking liquid into a blender and blend them together to get a puree.
4. Then take the beef and the beef ribs and rinse them thoroughly under water. Then cut the beef into bite-sized pieces. Once done, take a large pot and put 4-5 tablespoons of oil in it. Place the pot on the stove and light up the flame. Set the flame on medium and wait for the oil to heat up.
Once the oil starts forming ripples, add the beef pieces and the beef ribs to the oil to sear them for 8-9 minutes. You may sear the beef pieces in batches but avoid overcrowding the pot while searing them.
5. Sear the beef pieces nicely and then add-in the chopped onions, minced garlic and the thyme. Cook the added vegetables for 1-2 minutes and then add-in the chili sauce, red wine vinegar, bay leaves, cumin seeds and salt to the meat and vegetables.
Then take the oregano in your left hand and crush it lightly with the thumb of your right hand. Once done, add the crushed oregano and the beef stock to the meat and stir all the things together to mix.
6. Once all the things are added to the mixture, put the lid on the pot and let the mixture simmer on medium heat for 3 ½-4 hours or until the beef pieces become very soft and start falling apart. Once the beef pieces are perfectly cooked, fish them out of the sauce and then shred them with two forks.
Once you have shredded the beef pieces, put them back into the sauce and cook them covered for 15-20 minutes more. Once done, ladle out the birria into serving bowls and sprinkle the rest of the chopped onions and chopped cilantro leaves on top. Finally, put one lime wedge in each serving bowl to serve.
1. Make sure that you remove all the seeds from the chilies before you puree them because the seeds impart tremendous spiciness to the dish.
2. Wear gloves on your hands before deseeding the chilies; otherwise, you will feel a tremendous burning sensation if you touch your nose or eyes after deseeding the chilies without wearing a pair of gloves.
3. You can also use California chilies instead of cascabel chilies, but cascabel chilies are originally used in this recipe. Cascabel chilies look like small bell peppers and they are very hot.
4. You can buy cubed beef from the market because they save lots of time.
5. Bone-in beef ribs can also be used in this recipe but then you will have to pull out the meat pieces afterwards to shred the meat.