In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re sharing a recipe from Maria Vazquez – Mosaic’s Transitional Housing Coordinator! Maria’s family is originally from Mexico and she loves to cook meals that reflect her family’s heritage.
FOR THE BIRRIA
5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried morita chiles
3 dried pasilla chiles
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lb. beef brisket or beef chuck roast
2 lb. oxtails, short ribs, or beef shank
Freshly ground black pepper
10 cloves garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
3 Roma tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1 large onion, quartered
5 bay leaves
FOR THE TACOS
Shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
Freshly chopped cilantro for topping
1 large white onion, finely chopped for topping
Lime wedges for topping
FOR THE BIRRIA
Preheat oven to 350º F. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat add guajillo, morita and pasilla chiles. Toast the chiles for 1 to 2 minutes, moving frequently to ensure they don’t scorch. Remove to a medium bowl and cover with enough boiling water to cover the chiles, about 3 cups. Use a small plate or bowl to completely submerge the chiles. Let sit for 20 minutes or until rehydrated and pliable. Remove the chiles and reserve the liquid.
While the chiles soak, season beef with salt and pepper. Increase the heat in the dutch oven to medium high and add vegetable oil. Working in batches, sear the beef thoroughly (6 to 7 minutes per side for the brisket/roast, 4 to 5 minutes for the bone-in parts). Remove seared beef to a plate or cutting board.
In a blender add the dehydrated chiles, garlic, cloves, cinnamon stick, oregano, cumin seeds, tomatoes, vinegar and 1 ½ cups of the chile liquid. Blend for about a minute or until the mixture becomes a pourable paste.
Return the beef to the Dutch oven over medium heat and add the quartered onion and bay leaves. Add the chile paste and enough water to just cover the beef (for us this was 3 to 4 cups of water). Bring the birria to a simmer.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat, cover and move it to the preheated oven. Braise the birria for 4 to 4 ½ hours or until all of the beef is fork tender. Discard the bay leaves and onion and move the beef to a cutting board. Reserve all of the broth (or consomé). Shred the beef and set aside.
Taste the consomé and season with salt and pepper. Depending on your preference of the style of birria you want, you may want a thinner consomé. If you want to thin it out, add your desired amount of water, chicken or beef stock. Bring to a simmer and taste/season again.
Birria can be stored in the fridge, in airtight containers, meat and consomé separated, for up to 5 days.
FOR THE TACOS
In a saucepan, over medium low heat, bring the consomé to a bare simmer (there should be a layer of dark red looking fat/oil on the top). Construct a taco station that includes: the consomé simmering on one burner, a cast-iron pan or plancha heated over medium heat, a plate of shredded beef from the birria, and corn tortillas to the side, as well as small bowls filled with shredded Oaxaca cheese, cilantro and chopped onions.
Working in batches, take about ⅓ cup of beef and add to the pan or plancha and begin to reheat and sear the beef, tossing occasionally to ensure even browning. Take one corn tortilla and dip it shallowly into the consomé, coating both sides with the dark red fat. Place the tortilla on the pan or plancha and cover with Oaxaca cheese.
Fry the tortilla for 3 minutes or until the cheese has mostly melted and the underside has browned and started to crisp. Place the now seared meat on one half of the tortilla and top with cilantro and white onion. Fold the tortilla into a taco, sear each side for an additional 30 seconds and remove. Repeat this process until you have run out of beef.
Serve the tacos topped with cilantro and onion, with lime wedges on the side, and small bowls of consomé for dipping.