How to Make Birria- a traditional Mexican Stew (with Beef, Lamb, or Goat) in an Instant Pot, Dutch Oven (Baked or Stovetop), or in a slow cooker. Serve in a bowl as a hearty stew, or use inside tacos. Great for meal prep and freezes well. Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and Mexican Pinto Beans
Season meat with salt and set aside.
Break dry chilies apart, remove stems and most seeds, and toast them in a dry skillet over medium low heat until fragrant and slightly darkened (do not burn- they get bitter). Place chilies in a small pot with the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover and let stand 20 minutes turning heat off, until softened.
In the same warm skillet, toast any whole spices you are using-cinamon stick, cloves, cumin, coriander, peppercorns– until it smells amazing- 1-2 minutes. Place all but the cinnamon stick in a blender and pulse a few times, then set aside ( you’ll add the softened chilies and broth to this later).
In the mean time, heat oil in Instant pot on Saute setting, (or large Dutch oven over medium heat) and add onion and garlic, stirring until fragrant and golden. Add tomatoes and their juices, simmer 2-3 minutes until breaking down, then add vinegar and oregano and bay leaves, and scrape up any browned bits (important) using a wood spoon. Turn heat off.
Add the soften chilies and broth to the blender plus roughly one cup of the tomato mixture from the pot. Place a towel over the blender lid, and hold it firmly down ( to prevent a blender explosion), starting on low, and increasing to high. Turn blender off, and at this point add the canned chipotle peppers. 1-3 peppers will suffice, or for milder, use the adobo sauce out of the can. Blend till smooth.
Add the salted meat and stir to combine.
INSTANT POT: Set instant pot to 45 minutes on high pressure. Let naturally release. Shred the meat using two forks. You can skim the fat if you like, or use it for dipping tortillas, before frying them (traditional).
Dutch Oven: If using a dutch oven, cover tightly, and either simmer on the stove over medium low heat, 3 hours, or bake in a 350F oven, 3 hours. Check at hour 2, for dryness, adding a little more broth if you think necessary.
SLOW COOKER: You could also place this in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours.
Once meat is tender, taste for salt and add in the honey.
Serving Options: BOWL OF STEW: you could serve this as a hearty stew ( feel free to thin with a little more broth if you prefer) in a bowl, topped with cilantro, chopped onion or pickled onion, cojia cheese or sour cream and lime.
TACOS: You can use birria as taco filling. Often you’ll see (Food truck versions) the tortillas dipped into the rich broth, before being fried in a skillet, covered in melty cheese (Oaxacan string cheese) then filled with the birria and all the fixins’. Decadant but amazing.
If cooking in a Dutch oven, preheat oven to 350F
SPICES: sub 1 teaspoon cinnamon (for cinamon stice) and 1/2 teaspoon cloves
Use dry mild chilies like Guajillo and Pasilla Chiles, to add flavor and depth – but not too much heat. (Feel free to use other dried chilies, paying attenting to heat level.) Add Chipotles for more heat and smoky flavor. If you want a milder stew, I suggest use only Guajillos ( like 6). You can always add more spice at the end (cayenne, chili flakes, chipotle powder) if not sure. Using dried chilies really makes this dish.
If you prefer a brothier stew, you can always add more chicken or beef broth at the end of cooking, seasoning with a little more salt.
MEAT: I used a mixture of lamb and beef. Tougher cuts of meat work great here like stew meat. Shoulder, shank, leg, etc. Goat meat is traditional.
FAT: This can be made ahead; cooled – the fat will solidify, and then can be removed more easily if going for a leaner version.
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