Birria is a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. It is traditionally a slow cooked meat stew, served on special occasions. A recent trend is to make this dish then transform it into a tasty taco, dipped into the remaining sauce. Try to find authentic Mexican dried chillies for this dish if you can, I got some amazing ones from Sainsbury’s! I used a standard pressure cooker for this, but you can also use a crock-pot or slow cook on the hob or oven.
For the meat:
◦ 1.5kg piece of beef- I used a lean part (you can also use chicken, lamb or any other protein)
◦ 1-2 white onions chopped into large pieces
◦ 5 garlic cloves
◦ 4 small tomatoes
◦ 1L of beef or chicken stock (I used one beef and one chicken stock pot in 1L of hot water)
◦ Variety of Mexican dried chillies, seeds removed (I used around 9 chillies- three different types from Sainsbury’s)
◦ Spices: 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp cumin powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 bay leaves
◦ 1 tbsp sugar
◦ 2 tbsp chipotle paste
◦ 1 lime, juiced
◦ Small tortillas
◦ Cheddar cheese (I used already grated light mature cheddar cheese)
For the salsa:
◦ 1 white onion, finely chopped
◦ Bunch of coriander, finely chopped
◦ 1 lime, juiced
1. Cut the beef into large pieces and brown in some oil in the pressure cooker. Keep turning over so that all the meat surfaces are brown and slightly golden.
2. Remove the meat from the pan once browned. If there is a lot of fat remaining then I prefer to drain this, however if you are using a lean part there should not be much. In the same pan, add the onions and garlic, cook for a few minutes until charred. Then add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.
3. To that pan, add your dried chillies (ensure the seeds are fully removed from them by cutting them open and scooping it out), spices, sugar, lime juice and chipotle paste . Season with salt and pepper.
4. Return the meat to the pan. Add in 1L of stock. Cook on the pressure cooker- I did mine for 1 hour (released the whistle 5 times ). You can also slow cook in the oven/ hob- I would leave it on a low heat or low oven (about 150 degrees c for 6-8 hours)
5. Whilst it is cooking, make the salsa by mixing together the onions, coriander and juice of 1 lime.
6. Once the stew is cooked, remove the meat chunks from the pan onto a chopping board. Then you need to get a slotted spoon or sieve and separate out the remaining ‘bits’ (onions, tomatoes, chillies) from the broth (keep this to one side).
7. Take all the extra bits (see picture above) and blend in a food processor until a smooth thickened paste. Now add some of this back into the broth. If you add it all, your sauce will be more thick, or add less for a more soupy sauce- depending on what you prefer (I just added it all back in).
8. Shred the meat up with 2 forks, it should be very soft. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Then take a mini tortilla, dip it in the sauce and add it to a frying pan with a small amount of oil. Add some meat with a little more sauce on top, then grated cheese and the salsa. Fold over and cook in a pan. It will need a few minutes on one side until crispy, then you can flip it over and for a further minute on the other side.
10. Serve with the remaining sauce to dip into.