What’s The Hype About Birria Tacos
Birria tacos enjoy something of a moment in foodie circles and social media, although the Mexican dish has quite the history.
Birria is a meat stew originating in Jalisco, a western state in Mexico. But the birria taco trend now traces its origins to Tijuana, a Mexican border city, before the dish was re-created in California.
Goat or mutton was the primary meats used in this preparation, but many cooks also used veal, chicken, fish, or pork.
The recipe was originally prepared in the traditional ‘barbacoa’ style.” The goat, or mutton, would be marinated with salt and chiles, wrapped in maguey leaves, and allowed to marinate for 12 hours.”
The meat is put in a large pot and left to simmer in its juices until tender.
The resulting broth was then mixed with roasted tomatoes and spices. The meat was served in this broth or shredded and served in corn tortillas with the juice of a lime and a spicy salsa.
In the U.S., birria tacos are primarily made with beef. The tortillas for the tacos are typically coated in consommé before cooking.
There are two critical factors in creating high-quality birria tacos, the choice of meat and cheese.
Many chefs use beef chuck as it has an excellent fat percentage. After simmering, it will retain much moisture and be quite tender, which is essential for a high-quality birria or birria taco.
A good-quality Mexican melting cheese such as queso Oaxaca, made in the mozzarella style, allows for soft, stretchy bites; however, not all birria taco versions will contain cheese.
The dish and its variations have seen heightened popularity on Instagram and TikTok.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, dishes suited to takeout, such as birria, particularly shine.
Social media can undoubtedly be credited with the taco’s rise in America. Also, it is an easy food truck or restaurant to-go item that has been one of the few ways to get a restaurant meal over the past year.
Birria Is Excellent Comfort Food
There is a symphony of flavors and textures. Crisp with soft. Simmered ingredients paired with fresh.
Earthy notes of beef balanced with citric notes of lime. And then the triumph of dipping the taco into the hot consommé.
Recipe: Birria Tacos With Chile Broth
Output: 8 plates
Total time: 4 hours, mostly unattended
4 – 5 pounds bone-in goat or lamb shoulder, cut into 3-inch sections
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
Six teaspoons of refined sea salt or raw kosher salt, plus extra to taste
4 to 5 broad dried out avocado leaves
3 oz guajillo chiles (10 to 15), stemmed and seeded
16 corn tortillas, heated
2 cups lightly minced white onion
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves
2 to 3 limes, cut into wedges
1. Place the meat in a wide bowl and top with cold water. Include the vinegar and two teaspoons of salt, and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain; next, rinse thoroughly with cold water.
2. Put the rinsed meat in a Dutch oven or any ovenproof pot, top with water (min 3 quarts), add four tea-spoons salts, and stir. Take to a rolling boil over high heat; next, cut the heat low, skim the cream from the surface—top, and cook for 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet on medium-low. Once hot, toast the avocado leaves, turning them as they cook, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Pull out from the skillet.
4. Put the chiles in the frying pan, top with water, and take to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the chiles are fully rehydrated and expanded, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a mixer, include 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and purée until perfectly smooth.
5. Expose the meat, mix in the guajillo chile purée and dip in the toasted avocado leaves. Top again and simmer until the meat is very tender. 1 1/2 to 2 extra hours fall apart when a fork is introduced. Remove the avocado leaves and season the broth to taste with salt. (At this time, the birria can be reduced to room temperature, then covered and chilled for up to 3 days. If you’d like, you can dispose of the solidified fat from the broth before reheating it on the stovetop.)
6. Take the meat from the broth to a tray, dispose of the bones, tear the meat and wet it with some broth. Season the meat to feel with salt and arrange the remaining broth among serving dishes or cups. If you’d like, you can shave the fat from the surface of the broth.
7. To serve, set out the tortillas, onion, cilantro, and lime chunks to form tacos with the meat and season the broth. Eat the tacos and sip the broth as a chaser.
How do Pensacola restaurants make birria tacos?
At Taco Rock on Pensacola Boulevard, owner Odette Diaz makes her birria with cow cheek.
“We put cheese in there and fold them like a quesadilla, but they’re tacos,” said Diaz, who claims to be the first to bring birria to Pensacola more than three years ago.
“You add the meat, the cheese; you fry the tortilla a little bit to make them crispy. Then you put the consomé on the side. We call ours ‘cheesy dipping tacos,’ because a lot of people, they can’t pronounce ‘birria,’ so we said, ‘OK, let’s make it easy for them.'”
Lupita’s, which has brick-and-mortar restaurants on Pensacola Boulevard and Pine Forest Road and a food truck on North Davis Highway, uses top round as their birria meat.
Tacos Mexicanos Kitchen Manager Gabriel Lupe is in charge of the birria at Hernandez’s two restaurants, a process that gets started every Monday night. Unlike Lupita’s and Taco Rock, Tacos Mexicanos serves birria tacos as a Tuesday-only special.
“We use a mix of cheek and knuckle, but it’s like top round; it’s very lean,” Hernandez said of his kitchen’s preference.
“The cheek has a slightly gamey flavor. But we already employ a bunch of cheek in our recipes since it has that unique flavor. Any head meat in there will enhance the boldness of the flavor. That’s why we use a mix of cheek and the lean meat.”
The amount of time invested in the cooking process is another significant element that plays a big part in the final product.
“The meat is cooked for so long, like eight hours for us, giving it that extra juice,” said Agudelo, with Lupita’s. “Once the spices and chiles are added in, it’s so good. I have no words for it.”
Lupita’s typically cooks its birria for three to four hours. The demand for their brand of birria has been so overwhelming that Lupita’s added a whole birria section to their menu.