This post is generously sponsored by The Hatch Chile Store. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
What exactly are Birria Tacos?
You’ll never forget the first time you take a bite out of a Birria Taco (“Birria Quesataco” or “Birria Quesa tacos” as you may have seen it on taco trucks around the country). Once you know how to make these, you will make them all the time. TRUST ME. THEY ARE HEKKIN’ DELICIOUS. And after much research, and with my background in Hispanic foods, I think I’ve created the most delicious recipe of all for you to try!
But what is a Birria Taco (or Birria Quesataco)???
Birria is a central Mexican beef (or lamb) stew, slow-cooked in a red chile pepper puree. Birria tacos are corn tortillas dipped in the stew liqid, then stuffed with meat from the stew, along with onions and sometimes cheese (queso) and fried crispy. Tacos are served with a side of stew sauce to be used as a dip.
The combination of crunchy yet savory taco shells, filled with juicy and tender Birria beef filling smothered in melty cheese will drive your taste buds wild. You will crave more. This recipe is the secret to having a successful taco truck stand. You’re welcome, future taco truck owners :0)
What chiles for Birria?
The combination of several types of dried red chile pepper varieties is what elevates the taste of Birria above all other Mexican stewed meats- imparting a complex yet savory depth of flavor. But what specific chiles are used for Birria? I researched several articles and recipes to find you the answer!
Authentic Birria stew is made with a mixture of dried guajillo chiles, moritas chiles (smoked and dried jalapenos), pasilla chiles and ancho chiles. Other types of dried chiles can be substituted, such as chipotle, New Mexico Hatch, or ancho. Dried chiles are soaked to rehydrate them, then blended with tomatoes, spices, and herbs to create the thick red chile sauce for braising Birria beef or lamb.
Birria Tacos Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need if you want to make your very own Birria Quesatacos:
- A mixture of dried red chile peppers with a mild heat, such as Guajillo, Pasilla, Morita, Ancho, or New Mexico
- a mixture of bone-in and boneless beef cuts, such as chuck roast, short ribs, beef shank or brisket
- cinnamon stick
- fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce
- bay leaves
- corn tortillas
- Oaxaca or Mozarella cheese
Being that I’m from New Mexico, I cook with all types of chiles- all the time. After all, some of the world’s most delicious tasting chile peppers are grown in Hatch, New Mexico. I thought to myself, “What would Birria stew taste like if I used Hatch chile?” So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
How to make Birria Quesatacos
Birria starts out with great beef. I found the best cuts of beef are beef chuck roast and beef short ribs. The cuts are a good mix of meat AND the bones in the short ribs really turn out an incredibly tasty stew. To add even more depth of flavor, I rubbed all cuts of meat with a generous amount of roasted green chile powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. I browned them well to get a nice golden crust.
I wanted to make my Birria sauce with Hatch dried red chile pods. This part of the recipe is exactly how I make Carne Adovada (Carne Adovada is pork braised in red chile sauce). Once the sauce was well blended, I poured a little in the bottom of the pot, added the browned beef, then smothered the beef in the remainder of the sauce. Place some onion chunks and bay leaves in the pot, cover, and cook it low and slow in the oven for 3 to 4 hours.
When the Birria is deliciously cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, remove the beef and discard the bones, bay leaves and onion. Shred the meat. Grab yourself a good bag of corn tortillas, some Oaxaca cheese, and diced onion. Now you’re ready to start frying up Birria Quesatacos!
Dip corn tortillas into the Birria chile sauce to coat both sides, then place into a non-stick skillet set over medium heat. While the tortillas are frying, fill one side with shredded Birria beef, diced onion, and shredded cheese. (I was lucky enough to order these special red-chile-infused corn tortillas from The Hatch Chile Store. I knew they would be perfect for my Birria Tacos.)
After about a minute or two, fold the other half of the tortilla over the meat and cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is very dark and browned in spots. Remove and repeat to build more tacos. Serve with lime wedges and a side of Birria sauce from the pot for a taco dipping sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired and enjoy your fantastic tacos!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!
Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!Print