Birria tacos


Birria de Rez

  • 2 lbs boneless chuck
  • 1 lb oxtail or short ribs
  • 1 tsp avocado oil


  • 7 ancho chilies trim the ends and remove all the seeds
  • 7 guajillo chilies trim the ends and remove all the seeds
  • 3 chiles de arbol trim the ends and remove all the seeds
  • 1 white onion peeled and halved
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 Mexican cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups beef broth or water (divided)


  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 white onion minced
  • juice from 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Corn tortillas
  • 3 oz Oaxacan cheese I used a Mexica blend because we couldn't find Oaxacan cheese


To Sear the Meat:

  • Before getting started, allow the meat to come to room temperature for approximately 30 minutes. Once it's ready, generously sprinkle kosher salt on all sides of the meat. In a large Dutch oven or a pot equipped with an oven-proof lid, heat up some neutral oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, carefully add the meat, ensuring it makes contact with the surface for a hard sear. Brown the meat on all sides, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot. Once browned to perfection, transfer the meat to a bowl, ready for the next step.

To Make the Sauce:

  • While the meat is searing, in a separate medium pot, combine the dried chiles, halved white onion, garlic cloves, tomatoes, spices, and bay leaves. Cover everything with cold water and place the pot over medium heat. Allow the mixture to gently simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Once done, carefully pour the contents through a strainer, ensuring you capture all the flavorful liquid. Transfer everything, including the whole spices, to a blender. If your blender is on the smaller side, you may need to work in batches to ensure everything blends smoothly.
  • Next, incorporate the apple cider vinegar and approximately 1 cup of beef broth or water into the blender with the strained mixture. Blend everything until you achieve a velvety smooth consistency, which should take around 2 minutes. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning by adding salt to your preference (approximately 1 tablespoon of kosher salt worked for me).
  • Keep in mind: I used a high-powered blender, which resulted in an exceptionally smooth sauce. However, if your blender is less robust, you might encounter some remaining bits that didn't fully puree. In that case, you may want to strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any larger pieces before proceeding.

To Braise the Meat:

  • Preheat your oven to 300°F. Return the seared meat to the pot, then pour the prepared sauce over it. To make sure you capture every bit of flavor, add the remaining 2 cups of broth or water to the blender, swishing it around to collect any leftover sauce, then pour it into the pot as well. Place the pot over medium heat until the mixture reaches a gentle simmer. Once it does, cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let it cook for approximately 3 hours, or until the meat becomes tender and succulent.

To Assemble the Tacos:

  • Mix together the cilantro, white onion, lime and salt.
  • Remove the meat from the sauce and shred using two forks. Ladle the broth into a bowl and add a handful of diced cilantro.
  • Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Dip a tortilla into the fat on top of the broth* (you can use a ladle to skim off some of the fat if needed) and then transfer it to the skillet. Pan-fry one side for approximately 30 seconds, then flip it over. Next, add a generous portion of shredded meat and shredded cheese onto one half of the tortilla. Carefully fold the tortilla over to create a half-moon shape and continue cooking until both sides are golden and crispy, which should take about 1 minute. Transfer the crispy taco to a plate and serve it alongside the flavorful broth for dipping.
    *if your broth doesn't have a lot of fat, pan fry using some avocado oil


Pro Tips:
- Mix Up the Meat: Feel free to get creative with your choice of meat. Goat, lamb, or even oxtail can make delicious substitutes for short ribs.
- Make Ahead Magic: This dish is a fantastic make-ahead option. Prepare the Birria in advance, shred the meat, and store the sauce in the fridge. As it chills, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, providing a flavorful addition when reheating or frying your tortillas. Alternatively, warm everything up when you're ready to serve.
- Seek Out Authentic Ingredients: For an authentic flavor, source ingredients like Mexican cinnamon, dried chiles, and Mexican oregano from a Latin supermarket.
- Handle Cinnamon with Care: If you're not using Mexican cinnamon, be cautious. Remove and discard it after boiling the chiles. Mexican cinnamon is brittle and blends easily, but other varieties, like Saigon cinnamon, are much harder and can damage your blender.
- Slow-Cooker Variation: Transform this recipe into a slow-cooker delight by adding the meat and sauce to your slow cooker along with the broth. Let it braise on high for 6-7 hours for tender perfection.
- Instant Pot Instructions: Opting for the Instant Pot? Sear the meat directly in the pot, then add the sauce and broth. Seal the lid, set it to "high pressure," and choose the "Stew Meat" option, which typically takes around 50 minutes. Allow for a natural release, and voila—perfection in a pot!

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