What is Birria?


Birria is a classic stew recipe from Mexican cuisine. It is made from both beef and lamb. And most people add some goat cheese as well. You can combine it with any kind of meat you have at home. Make sure you choose meat with bones because it gives extra taste. In the Netherlands we don't know many Mexican restaurants. But in America this is one of the most popular dishes.

Birria change

Originally Birria was only made from goat meat. Nowadays it is mainly made from veal, beef, lamb or pork. In this way every family has the opportunity to make Birria regardless of the budget they have available. And this makes for several variants that are created by family recipes.

How to make Birria

Birria is made by preparing beef and lamb in combination with stock. In Mexican cuisine they like a lot of spice, so using different kinds of chillies in the stock is no luxury. If you don't want it too spicy you can choose to remove the seeds. Just like we do with the hachee in the Netherlands, this dish should be simmered for hours. Depending on the ingredients you add you will get a sweet, sour or even spicy taste. It is also an ideal filling for a taco.

Making Birria tacos

Birria is a dish full of culture and tradition of Mexican cuisine. Never throw away the meat broth and serve it with the taco. You need a good quality corn tortillas or you can make them yourself. In addition, the meat is the most important thing you put in it. Here you are free to combine different types of meat it is a recipe you make to your taste. After the meat the chilies are the most important. Depending on how spicy or sweet you want it you pick the chillies. Preferably at a grocery store because they usually have the best quality. Also the spices are up to you. Usually there is coriander and oregano in it. To give it some extra spice you can add some garlic cloves.

The beginning of making a taco

Based on the recipe for 10 people, you need 1 kg of meat to make that Birria stuffing. A tip is to ask the butcher for a piece that you can cook for a long time. Season it with the desired herbs. When it has a nice brown colour it is sufficiently cooked. In this phase you also fry the onions so they become golden brown. Next you prepare the peppers and remove the seeds if you don't like them. In between taste it to see if it has the desired taste and add extra pepper if desired. Be careful with peppers because you can't take it out again. It must simmer for 1.5 hours to get the right taste.

Birria tortilla

We recommend for the Birria recipe that you use corn tortillas. You can heat these on high heat in the pan or grill. A variation is to dip the tortillas in the gravy to give it even more flavor. Also, when you heat the tortillas, you can put some grated cheese on them. We Dutch are not cheeseheads for nothing. Then you can spoon up the Birria and close the tortilla on both sides. If you like it crispy you can put both sides on the grill for a few seconds. If you like you can garnish it with extra vegetables or herbs and that's it!

Where is Birria eaten in Mexico?

Especially in street stalls in Mexico you can find the most delicious Birria. But also the small cafes or so called mama cafes have classics like this on the menu. Often this is made of the meat that is cheap or available in season. So it may be that you have a different taste in the winter compared to the summer. This also applies to the vegetable and pepper variations they make of it. Often the Mexicans marinate the meat the night before. This gives the meat a chance to absorb the flavor.

Step-by-step plan for making Birria

First of all you start with roasting the peppers. From this you make a pepper paste for the Birria. If you do not like spicy, remove the seeds. You can do this in a blender with some vinegar blending. Then you are going to spice up the meat and rub it in with the herbs you like. Leave it overnight to get the best result. Make sure you cover it with cling film and put it in the fridge for the best result. 

When you let this stand overnight you can start cooking the meat. When you have cooked the meat you can add the broth and let it stew for a couple of hours. When you do this at 175 degrees you need 3-4 hours. Then you make bowls for the visitors so they can serve the meat themselves. Do not throw away the cooking liquid because it is delicious over the tortilla or wrap.

Where is Birria made?

Birria is a meat stew that is often used on special occasions. Think of weddings and parties in Mexico. But it also does not hurt to eat this recipe on a weekly basis as delicious as this is. Often it is served with tacos or tortillas. The meat and the spices can be prepared one day in advance which saves you a lot of time. The next day you can make a nice boiled broth of it and serve it with the taco or tortilla. But also during Christmas and Easter this dish is often made in the Mexican kitchen. It is a festive dish which you can compose to your own wishes.

The culture

Birria is not only a tradition in Mexico but it is also part of the culture for many Mexicans. You will find them in many restaurants or street carts and everywhere you will find a different taste. This is because everyone has his own variant and not only with goat meat. The evolution and the limited supply of goat meat has made it possible to also use lamb or pork. Beef is also recommended because of the good stewing possibilities this dish offers. Each state has its own variation but especially for the people from Jalisco and Guadalajara this dish is part of the culture.

Where is Birria popular?

Besides Mexico, the Birria taco is also a popular dish in America. There, thousands of people a day eat this delicious taco or wrap filled with a meat stew. Also in America they use family recipes. Many Mexicans moved to America to break with the Birria. This has succeeded and more and more new restaurants are opening here. Since 2009 it is already one of the most popular meals you can eat here. And the current generations are slowly passing it on to the next generation.

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