(low carb, gluten free, S)
I had my first taste of the Mexican meat dish called Birria at a friend’s daughter’s sixteenth birthday party. It was a delicious, spicy shredded beef in a smoky, rich sauce (but is traditionally prepared using goat or lamb). I had my suspicions of how this was prepared, but needed to back it up with a little research. I found two interesting recipes, (here and here), but as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I almost never follow recipes. There is always something I want to do differently than what I see someone else doing. So it was with this dish.
First, with the lamb or goat. My husband is not a fan of lamb and I had a nice beef roast I needed to use, so I went with that. I’m not even sure I would know where to buy a goat roast around here to be honest with you!
Second, it appears that Guajillo is the usual chile used in preparation of this dish. Guajillos are a new chile to my world. I have only used them once previous to this and it was only because they looked like the New Mexico chile (which I use a lot for pozoles and other recipes) and the store I was at was out of them. I am crazy about the sweet, smoky taste of Ancho chiles, so I wanted to use those in my birria. Guajillos have a Scoville rating of 2,500-5,000 units, whereas Anchos have a Scoville rating of 1,000-1,500 and New Mexico chiles only a 750-1,250 rating as shown here.
So I guess my birria is less spicy than the traditional. If you love extra spicy food, or don’t want to buy a bunch of chiles that you aren’t going to be using for other recipes in the future, then go ahead and use all Guajillos! I have to be a bit careful because if I make things too spicy, the kids start to make noises about it–that is if they aren’t trying to outdo each other on who is the most macho that day!
I liked both of these recipes because they were kind of opposite extremes to what I wanted to do in the kitchen–one looked a little too daunting and let’s be honest, time consuming, whereas the other was lacking something I love to do–making homemade chile paste from dried chiles. There’s something about that process that just makes me a happy little wannabe Latina!
Serve the resulting delicious shredded beef alone with a squeeze of lime and onions, and use leftovers for making quesadillas or tacos, on a Mexican-style taco salad, on top of some cauliflower mashed potatoes, or even scramble up the meat with some eggs for a quick breakfast! The possibilities are endless and you will be happy any way you use this lip-smacking meat!
You can place a few chopped red potatoes in the bottom of the crockpot for serving alongside this meat. If you are a THM girl, you might want to place some skinned, chopped jicama in the crockpot to mimic “potatoes”. That is what I show here.
Anyway, here’s my version, I hope you enjoy!
This Gringa's Birria
3 dried Guajillo chiles
3 dried Ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexico chiles
1 c beef broth
1T oil, like olive, peanut, or refined coconut
8 garlic cloves
2 onions, sliced and separated
5lb chuck roast (or shoulder clod roast: cheaper)
Salt and pepper
8oz can tomato sauce
1t cocoa powder
1/4c Apple cider vinegar
10oz can Rotel (tomatoes and green chiles)
Cilantro and limes, for serving
Directions: Place beef broth in a saucepan with 1/2c water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Destem and deseed chiles. Tear them into little pieces (like 2”) and place into hot broth for at least 10min until completely softened.
Place 1T oil in a pan and sauté garlic and 1 of the onions until transleucent. Remove to a blender. Cut excessively large chunks of fat off roast and season with salt and pepper and sear roast over high heat for a couple of minutes per side. Place into crock pot.
Add chiles and broth to blender. Add rest of seasonings as well as 2t salt, tomato sauce and apple cider vinegar. Blend until smooth—careful if broth is still really hot!
Add blended chiles, Rotel, and second sliced onion to crock pot, covering roast. Cook on low heat for 8hrs (or high for 6hrs). After cooking, remove roast to a pan and shred beef. Then mix back into sauce in crockpot. Serve with limes.