Tacos are not just for Tuesdays! These Birria Tacos are beefy, cheesy flavor pockets that come with a steaming cup of broth for dipping. They are delicious any day of the week, thanks to the birria-style stew meat.
Birria has been around for many decades in Mexico’s state of Jalisco. It is a stew that is normally made with goat meat that has been slow-cooked with spices and chiles. Birria spread throughout Mexico and eventually made its made to the U.S.
As birria’s popularity grew, so did the variations and types of meat with which it is made. Tijuana-style birria replaces goat meat with beef. Vendors soon started making tacos with beef birria.
Southern California is its own taco paradise with many influences coming from the cuisines of Mexico and other Central American countries. So it’s no surprise that in Los Angeles, birria tacos were soon being filled with melty cheese and served with the cooking au jus for dunking.
If you like the idea of French Dip sandwiches, you will like birria tacos. They have a similar formula. Beef + cheesy goodness + consomme = wow!
One of the important ingredients in this birria recipe is dried chiles.
I find it interesting that chili peppers have different names when they are fresh versus when they are dried. For example
- Fresh jalapeno is called chipotle when dried.
- Fresh poblano goes by ancho when dried.
- Fresh Anaheim becomes Colorado when dried.
Guajillo chiles are the dried version of fresh marisol chiles. These reddish-brown chiles have smooth and shiny skin, all without the aid of tretinoin. Their mild heat and fruity flavor are a great addition to marinades, salsas, and other sauces.
In this recipe, guajillos are combined with ancho, an even milder chili pepper. The dried chiles are soaked, seeded, then pureed into a paste. This adds bright chili flavor without the scorching heat to recipes like pozole.
- Don’t be afraid of the dried chiles in this recipe. Even my middle-aged insides do not react to these.
- Divide the work between two days if you can’t do it all in one day. I get it. Cook the beef on day one and place it in the fridge. Make the tacos the following day. Some recipes take time, but they are worth it in the end.
- If you can’t do cow’s milk cheese, try Manchego sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. It doesn’t bother the dairy-free peeps in my family! Or sub in a plant or nut-based cheese.
- 4 lbs chuck roast
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, cut in half and peeled
- 2 carrots, quartered
- 1 garlic bulb, cut off the top to expose cloves
- 2 dried guajillo chiles
- 2 dried ancho chiles
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 12 corn tortillas
- 12 oz shredded melting cheese (Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or Mozzarella)
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Preheat the oven to 300F/148C.
- Pat the roast dry and cut it into 4 or 5 large chunks. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large stockpot with an oven-proof lid. Add the beef cubes and sear all over.
- Throw the onion, carrots, garlic, and dried chiles into the pot. Next, add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, chili powder, oregano, salt, and bouillon cube.
- Pour in the broth and water. It should just cover all the ingredients in the pot. If not, add a little more water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, lower, and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chiles are soft.
- Using tongs, remove the chiles from the pot and cut off the stems. Dump out any seeds. Place the chiles in a blender along with 1 cup of liquid from the pot and blitz until it is a dark red paste. It won’t be perfectly smooth.
- Add the blitzed chili paste back to the pot, along with the tomato paste, and stir. Cover with an oven-proof lid and place the pot in the oven. Cook for 3 hours or until the beef is falling apart tender. Alternatively, you can let this simmer covered on the stovetop for the same amount of time.
- Remove the beef from the pot and place it on a cutting board or large platter. Shred the beef with two forks into bite-sized pieces. Season with additional salt, if needed.
- Assembles the tacos by heating a skillet over medium heat. Quickly dip a corn tortilla in the oil at the surface of the broth then place it into the hot skillet. Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip over. Sprinkle the tortilla with the cheese and meat then fold it in half. Cook until the bottom is slightly charred, then flip over and cook on the other side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Carefully open the tacos and add garnishes such as onion and cilantro. Serve tacos with a small bowl of broth from the pot. Dip the tacos into the broth and devour.
Keywords: birria tacos