Birria de Res
Birria, the regional stew from Mexico saw a meteoric rise in popularity recently, as a soupy style made with beef, popularized by birria vendors in Tijuana, took off in the United States. The chef Josef Centeno, who grew up eating beef and goat birria in Texas, makes a delicious, thickly sauced version based on his grandma Alice’s recipe, mixing up the proteins by using oxtail, lamb on the bone and even tofu (you can, too). Preparing the adobo takes time, as does browning the meat, but it’s worth it for the deep flavors in the final dish. The best way to serve birria is immediately and simply, in a bowl, with some warm corn tortillas. But make sure to put any leftovers to work: Extra meat, pulled from the bones, can be shredded for crisp quesabirria tacos, fried in the birria fat for cheesy, lacy edges. And the leftover broth, or consomé, is ideal for a comforting bowl of birria ramen, with an egg and some fresh herbs on top.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2poblano chiles
- 5guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed and halved lengthwise
- 5pounds bone-in beef shoulder, cut into large pieces, or goat or lamb stew cuts on the bone
- 1tablespoon fine sea salt
- ¼cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
- 1medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ¼cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 6garlic cloves, peeled
- 2tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
- ½teaspoon ground cumin
- Fresh black pepper
- 1cinnamon stick
- 2fresh or dried bay leaves
- ½cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2limes, quartered
- Corn tortillas, warmed
Step 1Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Step 2Prepare the chiles: Use tongs to place the poblano chiles directly over the open flame of a gas burner set to high. Cook the poblanos until totally charred all over, turning as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the poblanos can steam. After 10 minutes, use your fingers to pull the blackened skins away from the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the poblanos and set aside.
Step 3While the poblano chiles steam, place a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to cook the guajillo chiles evenly in one layer, flatten the chile halves on the hot skillet and toast them for about 15 seconds, turning once. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water to help soften them. Set aside.
Step 4Prepare the meat: Season the meat all over with the salt. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, transferring the browned meat to a large bowl as you work.
Step 5After you’ve seared all the meat, add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Return all the meat to the pot.
Step 6Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, cloves and a few grinds of black pepper to a blender, along with the chopped poblanos, toasted guajillos and the chile soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, scraping down the edges of the blender as needed.
Step 7Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, along with about 4 to 6 cups of water, enough to amply cover the meat.
Step 8Cover and cook in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.
Step 9Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top, and a side of warm tortillas.