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A platter of birria tacos with a bowl of dip and lime wedges.
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Birria Tacos

Crispy, juicy, and flavorful, these birria tacos are perfect for taco night. They're the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and spicy that'll make your mouth water.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican, Tex-Mex
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 16 tacos
Calories 306kcal

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • Blender
  • Skillet

Ingredients

For the Birria:

  • 4 dried ancho chiles stems removed
  • 3 dried guajillo chiles stems removed
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 pounds chuck roast cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound beef short ribs (about 2 ribs)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 8 Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise
  • 6 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the Tacos:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella or Oaxacan cheese (225g)
  • ½ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • Lime wedges to serve

Instructions

For the Birria:

  • In a large heat-proof bowl, add ancho and guajillo chiles. Pour the boiling water over the chiles. Soak for 45 minutes. Remove the chiles and place in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding some of the soaking water as needed to blend into a smooth but thick sauce. Set aside.
  • Sprinkle the chuck roast and short ribs with 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the meat until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrot to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, oregano, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes more, using the spoon to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir in the chicken broth and pureed chiles. Add the meat, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Cook until the meat is fork-tender or reaches 205°F to 210°F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest portion of the meat, about 3 to 3 ½ hours. Remove from the heat.
  • Remove the meat, and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Shred the meat with two forks, and discard the bones.
  • Skim the fat off the top of the birria broth and reserve in a heat-proof bowl. Reserve the broth in the pot for serving.

For the Tacos:

  • When ready to eat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet.
  • Working in batches, place a tortilla on the surface of reserved broth in the pot and flip to coat. Place into the preheated skillet. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or just until starting to brown. Flip the tortilla. Sprinkle each tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese then top half with about ¼ cup of shredded meat. Fold the other half of the tortilla in half, covering the meat.
  • Cook until bottoms start to get crispy, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Flip the tacos and fry the other side until they start to crisp, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the pan and repeat, adding additional oil as needed. Serve with onion, cilantro, limes wedges, and warm reserved birria broth for dipping.

Notes

  • If you cannot find Mexican oregano, you can substitute it with dried marjoram. Italian and Mediterranean oregano does not have the citrus and slightly sour flavor as they are from different plant families.
  • I put a small bowl on top of my chiles to keep them submerged as they tend to float to the top.
  • It’s easier to skim the fat after letting the mixture stop simmering.
  • Do not skip searing the beef. Searing the meat activates the Maillard reaction, which adds complex and rich flavors to the overall dish.
  • Cooking time may differ if you use a different cut of beef or if you use a different pot. I use a Dutch oven as they cook faster and retain heat better.
  • Beef taking too long to shred with a fork? Remove any bones and add everything the beef into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • Run at low speed, and the beef will pretty much shred itself.
  • If you do not want the birria tacos to be too spicy, make sure to remove the seeds from the chile peppers before blending.

Nutrition

Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 832mg | Potassium: 652mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4435IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 3mg