Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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

Birria is a Mexican stew made with smokey and very mild dried peppers, and a variety of spices, liquefied to a thick marinade used for meat overnight and cooked the next day. It is usually done traditionally with goats meat, but pork and beef or a mixture of both or even a mixture of all three meats can be used. The meats are boiled with enough water to not let them burn in the pot. Once cooked there is an optional method, some people like to put it in the oven so the meat gets browned a bit, this is called "Birria Dorada" (browned Birria)

My "tia abuela" (Mexican's grandmothers sister) I don't know what she is suppose to be called in English "grandmother aunt?" came over and has been staying with us to visit (we hardly see her so we are so happy for her to be here with us and don't want her to leave the longer she stays the better :) We all call her "Tia Licha" that's her nickname, but her name is "Elisa" anyways my "tia abuela" is from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (somewhere in eastern, southern, mid Mexico) she is a a pretty good Mexican cook, and we are always excited to have her teach us those special Mexican dishes that we can't make and usually have to go out to eat (Birria is an example of this)

Now here is where me and my aunt differ she likes her Birria to be more "soupy" I would say, a more loose sauce, I like it to be thick, but since she's the teacher here I let her do it her way. She when boiling the meat submerges it in 4 inches of water, me I would prefer 1-2 inches submerged for a richer, denser, more flavorful sauce.

-4 pounds thick fatty beef brisket or beef stew meat (any good cut for braising)
-2 pounds beef bone (or 1 pound pork bones and 1 pound beef)
-4 pounds pork butt (any good cut for braising)
-25 "Chile California" dried (also known as Anaheim Pepper, California Chile, it has to be dried, it has very mild almost to no heat)
-1/4 cup white distilled vinegar (not a bunch of vinegar like it's just some heavy drizzles
-2 tablespoons ground black pepper
-2 tablespoons ground cumin
-2 tablespoons oregano
-1 teaspoon whole cloves (grind them later)
 -1 inch piece of fresh ginger root minced
 -2 heads of garlic roughly chopped
-4 bay leaves

-salt to taste you will need AT LEAST 11-12 teaspoons of salt (remember you are cooking a very large portion)
-some water

Ingredients for garnish/ add ins:-1 medium onion very finely minced
-several limes cut into wedges
-cilantro minced (optional)
-your favorite spicy sauce (optional)

(1)Remove seeds, veins and stems from dry chiles, bring water to a boil in a pot, add chiles, turn off heat and soak uncovered until they are soft (I am not sure how long it takes I wasn't looking at the time but it takes awhile just until nice and soft.

(2)In a blender in small batches, blend soaked softened dry chiles, oregano, cumin, cloves, black pepper, salt, garlic, ginger root, slowly add water from soaking chiles as well as vinegar, you DO NOT want a super loose liquidy consistency, you want it to be a little thick and rich, similar to a sort of loose milk shake? Add each batch to a big bowl until your done blending. Set aside. You should have a very smooth, thick liquid marinade. DO NOT STRAIN IT!!! You will get rid of alot of flavor and goodness

(3)Now cut meat into chunks wash well, get each piece and pass it through the blended seasoning, put in a large pot, do this for each piece including bones, now when all have been passed and are in a container throw rest of marinade. Add bay leaves on top. Marinade 12-24 hours or more.

(4)Now in a VERY LARGE pot, add the meats and the marinade, add water until meat is submerged 1-4 inches in water (REMEMBER WHAT I SAID I LIKE IT THICKENED so I would prefer the meat to be 1-2 inches of water submerged MAX because the meat releases juices, on the other hand my aunt likes it more brothy so she adds 4 inches of water to submerge so it's "al gusto" to your liking add as much or as little water to suit your preferences).

(5)Oh and add 1 whole onion. Bring to a boil on high heat. Now lower heat to medium low and simmer for about 2-3 hours (if you like super soft meat 3 hours if you like sort of soft meat that holds shape well do 2 hours it's again your preference). Check for salt, if it needs more salt add it taste broth, and let it boil another 10 minutes so it gets the salt in. (I'm not afraid of raw meat poisoning so if you have the balls you can taste if it needs more salt when you add water to raw meat and taste and adjust)
(6)To serve, put in a large bowl generous amounts of meat and fatty rich cooking liquid, top with minced onion to taste, some lime wedges, and a side of your spicy sauce of preference to taste. Also some corn tortillas to get some of the meat and moisten in the rich cooking liquid. ENJOY!
(7)To make Birria Dorada you simple put it in a oven heated anywhere from 400- 450 degrees without much of the cooking liquid and let it brown on top, then when serving you scoop the juices from the pot over the meat, I find this unessecary, why waste time doing this when it is already delicious.

It may seem like alot but in my home this will feed 7 of us because we don't eat much of anything else when eating this just a big bowl of lots of meat, broth and the little side garnishes and very few corn tortillas we just want the meat ha ha. ALSO SALTING THIS DISH PROPERLY IS VERY IMPORTANT OR IT WON'T TASTE GOOD REMEMBER THERE'S A LARGE PROPORTION OF THINGS SO DON'T BE SHY ON SALT measure it out don't eyeball or there will also be risk of over salting, I added 1 teaspoon at a time.

If you made it brothy and have broth left over the next day but no meat in it, you can buy more meat and just boil it in the broth it will be more flavorful. This dish tastes great the next day, and also if your more health conscience you can make a day in advance, cool it, remove excess grease that floats to top, and bring to a boil to eat again like new. Mmmm... some people add tomato and a different ratio of spices or use other chiles but my aunts seems to make use of just 1 type of chili... I've seen a number of recipes and they all seem to be different.

HMMM what else: To my fellow bloggers and readers living in Spain, if you can't find these chilies maybe try a very mild to not spicy dry chile pepper from Spain like the Ñora or a bunch of "Pimientos Choriceros" or something??? I don't know, and for other Mexican's reading this DO NOT use solely "Chiles Guajillos" they will make this dish tooo spicy for all types of people to enjoy.