Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mi Birria de Res y Puerco (My Mexican Pork and Beef Stew)

“Birria” is a type of Mexican red stew or soup made with pork, beef, chicken, goat, or even turkey.

    It seems everyone makes Birria different,  the versions I am familiar with do not use tomato, it is composed of dried chilies, a little bit of vinegar, &  a spice mixture which for me should always include at least cumin, oregano, bay leaves, ginger (some don’t use ginger but to me it adds a special something, it doesn’t dominate the dish but adds a hot warmth that’s subtle) and some type of  sweet spices (it can be any of the following or combination or all of cloves, allspice berries , and or cinnamon)  and is cooked on stove top.

     On my blog I have my grand aunts recipe for “Birria” this recipe I present today is how I like to make it, it’s the recipe I came up with after seeing different cooks versions of “Birria” (including my grand-aunts) and I picked the components I liked from most from them and well came up with this version, the spice combination may seem odd to certain people, but trust me, when all these spices marry, none of them are more pre-dominant that the other, they combine to form a distinct flavor that taste like well “Birria” I really suggest anyone to try it if you never have and have the ingredients available … and don’t tell my aunt but I think it’s better than hers hehe.


2 ½ kilos about 8 lbs meat (pork, beef or goat I used 5 1/2 lbs pork spareribs and 2 1/2 lbs beef neck bone)
¼ cup vinegar (to marinade meat briefly)

Other Ingredients:
-5 chiles anchos
-15 guajillos chilies (you may use “Chile California” or 10 “Chile California & 5 “Guajillos”)
-3 cascabel chilies (optional can substitute for “Chile de Arbol” or “Chile Japones”)
-8 garlic cloves
-2 inches ginger peeled and sliced
-20 allspice berries
-5 cloves
-20 black peppercors
-2 cinnamon sticks
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 tsp.  oregano
-3 bay leaves
-salt to taste

(1) Wash the meat several times in water and drain about twice, for the third time soak in water, add a lot of salt, lime juice and swish it around then drain, and rinse once more, drain well.
(2) Get meat in a deep container or pot, add vinegar, stir well, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the stuff. (the vinegar is used to get rid of any gamey flavor specially if you use goat)
(3) Now get all the dried chilies (ancho, guajilli,  & cascabel), remove stems, seeds, and veins from all chilies, peel all the garlic cloves and lightly mash, peel and slice the ginger, and bash the cinnamon sticks and set all aside and have the rest of the spices on hand except bay leaves
(4) Now heat a pan with a generous amount of oil, fry all the chilies in batches briefly about 30- 40 seconds, set aside in a deep bowl, now fry all the spices except cumin, oregano & bay leaves.
(5) Blend everything (all the chilies and spices EXCEPT bay leaves) in batches to a smooth paste in a blender, add water as needed to get a paste consistency together with atleast 2-3 teaspoons salt. Set aside.
(6) Get your meat and drain the vinegar but do not rinse, add the blended chilies and spice mixture paste, coat well, and tuck in bay leaves in the mix. Cover and allow to marinade in the fridge over night, or atleast 2 hours

(7) Next day add enough water to barely cover about 1-2  inches deep, and bring to a boil, skim off foam, taste for salt you will probably have to add 2 more teaspoons of salt or more or less to taste and allow to simmer until meat is tender.

 About 2 hours.

  Serve with minced onion, cilantro, lime wedges, & corn tortillas
In addition I like to serve it with a spicy salsa that's made from dried chile japones or chile de arbol.

(1) If you cannot stand a little bit of spicy at all,  skip the Cascabel chilies, substitute them for “Chile California” and substitute all the Guajillos for “Chile California” this way it will not really have any heat.

(2) Like I said before give this recipe a try you won’t regret it  you can use bone in skin-on chicken, beef, pork, or even a whole turkey cut into segments

(3) After cooking it, you can refridgerate over night if you'd like to remove the excess fat from the stew, but to be honest it's what makes it delicious ;) 

(4) Also if you want a less oily dish, instead of frying everything, you can lightly toast the dried chilies in a hot griddle or comal for less than a minute, and soak in warm water. You can also toast all the spices, and pan- roast the tomatoes, onion, ginger, and garlic. Puree everything in blender minus the bay leaves.

I currently add 1/4- 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds that I blend to the marinade and let me tell you it gives the dish a wonderful flavor, and hits spot on in the taste when it comes to tasting like it's from a Birriereria (place that specializes in Birria)