If you ask my fiancé what he’d like for dinner, you’ll always get the same two answers – sloppy joes or tacos. I need more variety in my life, but luckily, I too, love tacos, so I enjoy experimenting with new versions to keep things interesting. Throughout quarantine, I’d been seeing a ton of delicious looking pictures of Birria tacos on social media. Traditionally Birria tacos are made with braised goat. While I absolutely love goat (my fiancé is Haitian and that’s a popular Haitian protein), it’s not readily found in local grocery stores. So, on a recent day off, I set about on a culinary adventure to create my own version of Birria tacos with braised beef.
For braised dishes, I love using cast iron, but often lack the patience to wait hours to consume the deliciousness that awaits, so I opt to use my Instant Pot! Even when using the Instant Pot to speed the process along, this is definitely a project, since the meat needs to marinate for several hours. You could certainly get this dish started in the morning, and throw it in the Instant Pot after work, or wait for a day off and enjoy the smells in your kitchen all day using the conventional stove or oven method to braise.
Let’s talk about chiles, which are the base of the marinade and subsequent braising liquid. I used both guajillo and chile de arbol which are dried chiles found in the produce section of my grocery store, but you could substitute pasilla for the guajillo or crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, or Chiles Japones for the chile de arbol. Guajillo peppers are a dried form of a mirasol chile. Second to poblanos, it’s the most frequently used chile in Mexican cuisine. Guajillo chiles are smoky, but aren’t overly spicy (2,500-5,000 on the Scoville scale), and are typically less spicy than a jalapeno. The Chili de arbol (15,000-30,000 on the Scoville scale) is where this recipe gets its heat, so you can certainly omit, or use fewer if you want to avoid the spice. The chiles also help yield a brilliant orange color to the braising liquid which the tortillas are dipped into before pan frying the tacos, so they serve many purposes in this recipe.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Inactive time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Cook time: 55 min using Instant Pot (4-6 hours on the stove/oven)
Active time: 60 min
Serves: 4-6 people (16 tacos total)
2 pounds bone-in short ribs
2 pounds chuck roast
6 guajillo chilis
8 chili de arbol chilis
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
6 canned whole peeled tomatoes
1 7oz can chipotle in adobo sauce
6 cloves peeled garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano (I found Mexican oregano next to the chilis in my grocery store)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 onion, diced
4-8 cups beef stock
32 white corn tortillas (I like El Milagro)
16 oz quesadilla or chihuahua cheese
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 bunch of cilantro
1. In a small pot, boil 2 cups of water. Pour the boiling water over the guajillo and chili de arbol chilis in a small bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.
2. While the chilis are re-hydrating in the hot water, cut your beef chuck roast into 4oz pieces and season both the chuck roast and short ribs with adobo seasoning (I used the spicy version) in a large bowl.
3. Once the chilis have rehydrated for 15 minutes, drain the water and place the chilis in a food processor or blender. Add vinegar, tomatoes, chipotle, garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, clove, and cinnamon. Blend/process until smooth.
4. Add the chili mixture to the large bowl with the meat and let marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
5. If using the Instant Pot, you can sear on sauté mode, but I find it doesn’t get as hot as I’d like, so I used a Le Creuset Dutch oven to sauté the onion and sear the meat in two batches. Reserve the marinade! Add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil and sauté one diced onion.
6. Add the meat and sear.
7. After the meat is seared, add the marinade, and 4-8 cups of beef stock until the meat is mostly covered.
8. I then transferred the meat and braising liquid to the Instant Pot. I set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 1 hour. Once done, natural release for 10 minutes (I always do some natural release with meats to ensure they don’t toughen), then manual release the rest of the pressure. If braising on the stove, bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat to simmer, and cook 4-6 hours until fork tender.
9. Remove the meat from the braising liquid.
10. Shred braised meat with 2 forks. Set aside.
11. Reserve half the the braising liquid in a medium sized bowl, and the other half to be divided for serving.
12. When ready to prepare the tacos, heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. No fat is needed as there is ample fat in the braising liquid.
13. Dip one tortilla in the braising liquid – it will turn a brilliant orange/yellow color- let any liquid drip off.
14. Place the tortilla in the heated skillet.
15. Add a thin layer of cheese to cover the tortilla.
16. Dip a second tortilla in the braising liquid, allowing any liquid to drop off. Place the second tortilla on top of the cheese covered tortilla in the pan, essentially making a quesadilla.
17. Flip the quesadilla, add a few ounces of shredded meat to half the quesadilla.
18. Fold the quesadilla in half to form a taco.
19. Repeat process for remaining tacos.
20. Serve tacos with a small bowl of the braising liquid to dip the tacos in, diced onion, and cilantro.
Not only are these tacos delicious, but the braised meat is also really versatile! We made 6 tacos, and I used the rest of the meat to make Beef Stroganoff, a ragu for pasta, quesadillas, and as breakfast side for eggs instead of steak that week.
If these tacos have you realizing that you need a new Le Creuset Dutch oven in your life, book one of our private retail shopping appointments or place a curbside retail order. Or, if you’re craving some other delicious beef dishes, we’ve got some fantastic meat classes on our virtual class calendar:
- Virtual Chili and Cornbread Thursday, February 4 6pm CST
- Virtual Vacation Trip to Argentina Friday, February 5 6pm CST
- Virtual Building Blocks – Beef Cookery Saturday, February 20 10am CST
- Virtual Date Night – Steak Au Poivre Saturday, February 20 6:30pm CST