Droolworthy videos and images of birria tacos and quesabirria from California and Texas have been all over my social media (check out the hashtag #birria or #quesabirria on Instagram or TikTok), and making me incredibly jealous.
I hadn’t had a chance to try them at La Tiendita (amazing Tallahassee restaurant), and I knew I could get most of the ingredients locally – I did have to order the dried Anaheims online, but Publix had the guajillo chiles, chipotle in adobo and whole spices, and Whole Foods had the Oaxaca cheese – so it was on. (You can sub a block of high-quality mozzarella for the Oaxaca cheese though.)
Obviously my German ancestors had no guidance on this recipe so I consulted the talented abuelas, madres, tías and hermanas of the internet and watched countless videos on YouTube and IG.
Some base recipes that I consulted for amounts and techniques:
As you can see there are a variety of ingredient differences throughout the recipes, so you can pick and choose the spices /chiles depending on your preference and their availability. I would also use some fresh peppers such as poblano or jalapeno next time to increase the heat. I used more garlic than most recipes because I looooove it.
Highly recommend getting all ingredients out and organized by stage before beginning. Go ahead and snip tops off of the chiles and discard seeds. I used 4 guajillo and 4 dried anaheim peppers (chile california). I didn’t end up using the Rotel because I had fresh tomatoes that needed to be used.
Slice pork or beef into thick slices and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin. Heat dutch oven with neutral oil covering the bottom. Sear pork or beef in batches until each piece has a dark golden crust, and remove to bowl.
Toast chiles in same dutch oven until a little darker, remove, and put in blender container with some hot water to steep and soften (don’t blend yet).
I added onions (thick slices), four tomatoes cut in half to dutch oven with some salt and pepper, keep stirring so the bottom doesn’t burn. Then add ground/whole spices and garlic cloves, stir until fragrant.
Add a little chicken stock and scrape the bits up and then add everything in the dutch oven to the peppers in the blender with apple cider vinegar, pinches of ginger/cumin/salt, and a chipotle pepper (can add more for additional spice) and blend until as smooth as you can get it.
Add pork back to pot, strain blended sauce over meat, add remaining chicken stock and some water to make sure that the liquid covers the meat) and then stir in a couple tbsps of beef bouillon ( I use the “Better Than Bouillon” brand). Bring to boil, then simmer for two hours sealed with foil and lid.
Pork should be shreddable at this point; if not, cook for another 20 min. Remove pork to separate bowl, shred, and add some juice to the meat to keep it from drying out. Cover with foil to keep warm. I put the bowl on the back of the range to make it easy to access when building the tacos.
Preheat griddle or skillet, add oil right before use. Bring liquid to a boil and reduce a bit while chopping onions and cilantro, prepping lime wedges, and shredding cheese. Taste sauce to see if you need additional salt. Turn off heat so that fat settles on top for the tortilla dipping.
To assemble: dip corn tortillas in liquid, put on preheated and oiled griddle/skillet, top with cheese and meat, fold and toast. Can add garnish before or after folding.
Put juice in cups for each diner topped with onion and cilantro for dipping. Serve with lime wedge.
These vaulted to the top of the “best dishes I have ever cooked” list according to the teenagers and spouse, so I’m thinking we will be having this regularly. I honestly may freeze some of the remaining liquid just so I can have impromptu birria tacos in the future.