The Mexican city of Guadalajara is justly proud of its famous slow-cooked goat dish, birria. In this recipe, much care and time is taken in preparing and cooking the goat, which is steamed and roasted before being served in an aromatic broth.






Skill level

Average: 3 (172 votes)


Spice marinade

  • 10 guajillo chillies, boiled for 10 minutes until soft
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano (see Note)
  • 4 cloves
  • 8 allspice
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Mexican bay leaves
  • 6 kg goat pieces, bone in
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 4–6 tsp salt


  • 12 tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 allspice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Mexican bay leaf

To serve

  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 kg fresh corn tortillas
  • vinegar-based chilli sauce

Cook's notes

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.


You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

To make the marinade, place the chillies, garlic, oregano, cloves, allspice, cumin seeds and bay leaves in a blender. Add enough hot water (between 150 ml and 250 ml) to blend to a paste. Remove from the jug.

Prepare an 8–10 litre saucepan with a tight-fitting lid as a steamer. Pour in a small amount of water, enough to cover the base of the pan to a depth of 3 cm. Brush the goat pieces with the paste, and as they are coated place them in the steamer.

When the goat pieces are all marinated, pour the remaining spice marinade over the top. Sprinkle the white vinegar around the meat, then season well with the salt.

Place the pan on a very low heat and fit the lid on tightly. Cook for 18–20 hours without removing the lid.

When ready, remove the meat from the pan and place in a deep baking tray. Preheat oven to 130°C. Bake the goat, uncovered, for 1–2 hours or until coloured and dried out.

Meanwhile, to make the broth, strain the liquid from the steaming pan and reserve.

Boil the tomatoes for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water. Blend the tomatoes with the garlic, oregano, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and bay leaves until very fine. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and pour into a large saucepan. Add the strained steaming liquid and reserved tomato cooking water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and check the seasoning.

Remove the goat from the oven and pull the meat from the bones. Chop the meat roughly and divide between bowls. Ladle the broth over the meat and garnish with chopped white onion. Serve with warm corn tortillas and a vinegar-based chilli sauce.


• Mexican oregano is pretty widely available these days. If you can't find it, marjoram is the best substitute.