"It used to be that you could only find birria if you went down to Mexico. Not even in big cities. You needed to go to the countryside or to small little towns, or you needed to find a roadside stand that specialised in birria. Now birria is like, the hottest thing in America," says Pati Jinich. This slow-cooked stew is often served in tacos, but you can also used the meat in quesadillas.
Inspired by Pati's travels in the Mexican state of Jalisco, in this recipe lamb marinated in a rich adobo is cooked to tender perfection, then served up with a rich salsa.
- 1.8 to 2.2 kg (4 to 5 lb) bone-in lamb shoulder ribs, or leg, or a combination, cut into approximately 7.5 cm (3 inch) pieces
- ⅓ cup white distilled vinegar
- 4 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
- 4 dried ancho chillies, stemmed and seeded
- 4 dried guajillo chillies, stemmed and seeded
- 4 dried cascabel chillies, stemmed and seeded
- 3 dried morita chipotle chilies, stemmed
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh oregano or 3 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 4 whole cloves, stemmed
- Warm corn tortillas
- 2 cups ﬁnely chopped white onion
- 2 cups chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 2-3 limes, quartered
- Salsa of your choice, such as tapatía
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: at least 2 hours, preferably 24-48 hours
- Place the meat in a large roasting pan, pour on the vinegar and sprinkle over the salt, then rub it all over the meat. Let it sit as you prepare the marinade.
- Heat a comal or small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the dried chiles for a minute per side, or until lightly toasted. Place in a saucepan along with the garlic and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes until the chiles have softened and plumped up.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles and garlic to the jar of a blender, along with the 4 cups of cooking liquid and the oregano, cumin, nutmeg, black pepper and cloves, and puree until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
- Cover the meat with the adobo, making sure it is all well rubbed. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator, ideally, anywhere from 24 to 48 hours (or at least 2 hours).
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to (190°C (375°F).
- Place the meat and all of the marinade in a roasting pan, tightly cover with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven for 2½ to 3 hours. Uncover and continue roasting for another 35 minutes, or until the meat is so tender it is falling off the bones and it is browned on the top. Taste the broth and adjust the salt. You may need to add some water to the pan if it has reduced too much during the cooking.
- When it comes to serving, you have many choices: You can transfer the meat to a platter, moisten with the remaining broth, and assemble the meat in tacos or make birria-dillas (or quesa-birrias). Garnish the tacos or quesadillas with the onion, coriander (cilantro), lime and salsita of your choice, such as the tapatía.