The Washington Post

Birria de Res

Birria de Res 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dec 9, 2020

Traditionally, birria is a slow-cooked goat stew which can be served in its broth like a soup, in a taco, on a plate with rice and beans or stuffed into a sandwich. Its signature flavor comes from the guajillo chile, which is fruity and tangy with a touch of smokiness. In this recipe, adapted from Estaban Castillo’s “Chicano Eats,” beef fills in for the goat, as it’s easier to find in the United States. Castillo also offers instructions for making birria in a pressure cooker, which speeds up the process tremendously. Make a large batch and use it in a week’s worth of meals, or freeze it in batches, defrosting whenever a craving hits.

Make Ahead: If making on the stove top, the birria needs to marinate for at least 4 hours.

Storage Notes: Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Find dried chiles in the spice section of most supermarkets, or online.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • For the birria
  • 10 large (2 1/2 ounces total) dried guajillo chiles (about 5 1/2 inches long), stemmed and seeded (may substitute ancho or pasilla)
  • 2 (1 ounce total) ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 8 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 5 pounds beef loin tri-tip roast, fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For serving
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Corn tortillas, rice and beans, or refried beans (optional)

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In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the guajillos, anchos and enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chiles are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to the jar of a blender. Add 1 cup of the chiles’ cooking liquid, the vinegar, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, oregano, cumin and salt. Secure the cover tightly, put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and blend until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. This is your adobo. Let it cool completely.

When the adobo is cool, pour it in a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Add the beef and bay leaf and seal the bag, squeezing out as much excess air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. The longer the meat marinates, the more flavor it will have.

Transfer the beef and adobo into a 6-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in 8 cups of water. Bring the meat and liquid to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the meat is cooked through and shreds easily, 3 to 4 hours. Taste, and adjust the salt as needed. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

To serve, ladle some of the beef and broth into a bowl, then top generously with onion and cilantro. Alternately, you can add some of the shredded beef to a warm tortilla, topping with onion and cilantro, or, serve the beef on a plate with rice and beans.

VARIATION: To make the birria in your multicooker, add the adobo, beef, bay leaf and 6 cups water to the pot. Make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set to 50 minutes. (It may take about 10 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure before cooking begins.) Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. For this recipe, you can use a 3-quart cooker or larger.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen” by Esteban Castillo (Harper Design, 2020)

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8): 401

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 15g 23%

Saturated Fat: 5g 25%

Cholesterol: 179mg 60%

Sodium: 583mg 24%

Total Carbohydrates: 2g 1%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 65g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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