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Homage to the Taco Chronicles – The Series – Birria de Chivo

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    Homage to the Taco Chronicles – The Series – Birria de Chivo

    As a continuation of my series paying homage to the Netflix’s documentary called the Taco Chronicles, I promised for my next selection I would do some Birria Tacos. Since then both barelfly and 58limited have offered up fine and very delicious examples of both beef and goat versions. Trying not to be too redundant, I offer up what I’ve researched to be how the majority of goat tacos are served in the Birria style in Mexico. I’ll follow that with what is known as Birria Quesotacos de Chivo, or basically what the other two gentlemen’s recipes actually represent. The difference is a crispy finish on the tortilla and the addition of some type of queso or cheese with the stewed meat, in essence similar to a quesadilla.

    First let’s introduce some terminology to this method of cooking. The word Birria in Spanish simply means ‘apology’. In gastronomic terms it’s better known as a “savory dish with a spicy finish”. In Mexico it’s so beloved that it’s not only served as taco street food, but as a savory stew at wedding ceremonies and is said to be an excellent cure for la cruda or a hangover.
    So why is this popular and beloved cooking style associated with an apology? Well if one looks back on tradition, when the Spanish ruled much of Mexico, the working and underclass indigenous people were given the lessor cuts of meat to sustain them. In particular goat meat was considered smelly and too tough to be bothered with, so the impoverished had to figure out a way to deal with this gamey and stringy meat, because sorry, this is all you get!!

    Birria then is all about the marinade and the low and slow cooking process. It prepares the meat by using the chilies and seasonings in an adobo sauce to mask any unpleasant taste, as well as stewing the meat to completely render its proteins and collagen. Typically, after the marinade process, the meat is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in earthen ovens. The methodology is the same today but done as a stew in our conventional ovens. That said the earthen oven technique can still be found in the oldest of the Mexican birrierias.

    Birria was first introduced in the west-central Mexican state of Jalisco. In Guadalajara, its largest city, birrierias are everywhere with bragging rights abound. On a recent visit to Puerto Vallarta back in 2019, I got a chance to try some of these fantastic tacos in a place very similar to this;
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    As time went on, birria continued to gain popularity in neighboring Mexican states. As it moved into Northern Mexico and Tijuana in particular, it morphed into a number of varieties, many of which have been adopted here in the States, with the use of beef, lamb and even pork. Goat is still considered to be the most authentic cut of meat used in birria, followed closely by lamb. As far as the type of animal used, like mutton, older goats (or cabras(o)) are too gamey and tough. Most of the meat I see is considered chivo(a) or young adolescent goats. The preferred cuts would be from what is the veal of the goat world or the cabrito or kid meat. Unfortunately, cabrito is rather expensive and a bit difficult to source, so chivo is the variety most available and what was used in these recipes.

    Tacos de Chivo Birria

    Course. Lunch or Dinner.
    Cuisine. Mexican
    Makes. 6 to 8 servings
    Takes. 90 minutes prep, 2-24 hour periods to brine & marinade and 4-6 hours cooking time (this is a long process done in steps)

    Ingredients – Adobo Marinade & Base


    4-5 pounds cubed goat meat with bone (if possible)
    1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt per pound of meat for dry brining

    6 – dried ancho chilies
    5 – dried guajillo chilies
    2 – dried pasilla chilies
    3-4 – dried chilies de arbol (these can be hot so adjust accordingly)
    2 – chipotle chilies and half of the adobo sauce from a prepared 7 oz. can by either La Costena or Goya. Either can be found in your local grocery.

    **Note on the dried peppers. Some recipes call for the dried powder of each as a substitute. I would not recommend their use due to concentration level adjustments and lack of freshness afforded by the actual chilies. Try to source the real thing.**

    1 – garlic head (6-8 cloves)
    2-3 whole cloves, ground
    1/2 - cinnamon stick, ground
    2 – teaspoons Mexican oregano (regular works as well)
    2 – teaspoons cumin powder
    1 – teaspoon marjoram
    2-3 – dried bay leaves
    1 – inch fresh ginger root, peeled and rough chopped
    1/2 - cup cider or white vinegar
    1 to 1-1/2 – cups reconstituted pepper liquor

    Ingredients – Consume

    14 oz. can Muir Glen diced fire roasted tomatoes (or 4 roasted Roma tomatoes)
    6 - garlic cloves
    1 – white onion cut in half
    3 – cups chicken stock
    1 – cup reconstituted pepper liquor

    Ingredients – For Tacos Presentation

    20-24 – white corn tortillas
    2 cups – white onion chopped
    1 – bundle (about 1-1/2 cups) cilantro finely chopped
    Favorite salsa
    Lime wedges

    Ingredients – For Quesotaco Presentation

    20-24 – white corn tortillas
    2 cups – quesdo asadero or Oaxaca melting cheese, shredded
    2 cups – white onion chopped
    1 – bundle (about 1-1/2 cups) cilantro chopped
    Favorite salsa
    Lime wedges
    ________________________________

    Directions – Adobo Marinade & Meat Prep

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    1. Dry brine your meat overnight with the kosher salt. Either pre-smoke (no more than 1 hour) or brown your meat in a skillet to develop flavor before stewing. Set aside while you make your marinade.
    2. Begin by cutting off the stems and opening up your dried chilies with a kitchen shear. Remove all of the seeds and any membranes. Rinse thoroughly as they tend to be dirty.
    3. In a frying pan, quickly roast the chilies until they change color and become fragrant. Do them in batches to avoid burning.
    4. Bring enough water to soak all the chilies to quick boil and remove from the heat, allowing it to cool a bit. Submerge the chilies into the hot water, cover and allow to steep, about 30-40 minutes. They should become very soft and pliable. Reserve 2-3 cups of the reconstituted liquor.
    5. In a small pan toast your cloves and cinnamon until aromatic. Grind them into a powder.
    6. Add the reconstituted peppers, the canned adobo sauce and all of the aromatics to a blender. Add the vinegar and enough pepper liquor to allow the contents to thoroughly blend into a soft paste. Strain the resultant paste into a bowl to remove the coarser pieces of pepper skin, seeds or other unblended matter. Dispose of the pulp.
    7. In a large enough vessel, spread the meat out in an even layer and pour all of the marinade onto the meat. Work the marinade into and around each piece coating thoroughly. Cover with foil and allow to marinate in your refrigerator at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
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    Directions – Stewing the Meat
    1. Allow your marinated meat to come up to room temperature. Add the meat and all the marinade to a Dutch oven and add enough water to completely cover the meat. Nestle in the garlic cloves and onion halves.
    2. Either cook on your stovetop or place in a 350* oven for at least 3 hours or until the meat is soft and completely rendered. At certain intervals skim the top of the liquid of the foamy fat and oil. Separate and reserve the chile oil for later use.
    3. Once the meat is completely rendered, remove to a chopping board and either shred or finely chop. Set aside while you prepare the consume.
    Directions – The Consume
    1. Remove the large pieces of onion from the cooking broth and place them in your blender. Add the tomatoes and garlic and blend until liquefied.
    2. Strain the thickened cooking liquid of the remaining pulp and bits of meat and bone. Your concentrated broth should have thickened and reduced down to about 3 cups.
    3. Add the tomato, onion, and garlic blend to the cooking broth. Also add the chicken stock and reconstituted pepper liquor. Check for salt or other seasoning at this point.
    4. Bring the combined consume to a slow boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
    5. Turn off the heat and add your shredded meat back to the consume.
    Directions – Classic Taco Assembly
    1. As mentioned above, most Mexicans simply make tacos out of the stewed meat adding consume juices over the top. Assemble your tacos in like manner by placing your stewed meat into one or two warmed up corn tortillas. These can get sloppy so I recommend two tortillas.
    2. Top with the onion-cilantro garnish and your favorite salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
    3. Serve with a dipping bowl of consume laced with the onion-cilantro garnish. Dip your tacos into the consume while eating. Have plenty of napkins at your disposal !!
    4. Optionally serve the consume in a bowl and enjoy as a soup. It's that good !!!
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    Directions – Quesotaco Assembly Option
    1. On a flat top or non-stick skillet, fry two tortillas that have been dipped in your reserved chile oil and consume blend.
    2. Add some of the shredded cheese to the top of one and flip the other tortilla on top of that to fuse the two together. Continue to fry both sides until they begin to crisp up.
    3. Add some of the stewed meat, a bit of consume, a good amount of cheese topped off with a teaspoon of the onion-cilantro garnish.
    4. Carefully fold the taco and continue to fry until the desired degree of crispness is achieved. Repeat.
    5. Serve once again with a dipping bowl of consume, your favorite salsa, some lime wedges and lots of napkins. Enjoy !!
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    Next up is we go further west to the Baja for Tacos Pescado !! Stay tune, until then Trout is out !!!
    “This is what defines Mexico….a Good Taco”



    #2
    Have made the stew. Need to try the tacos. Thanks for sharing this journey.

    Comment


      #3
      Good stuff right here! Love the intro though provide for this variation of Birria tacos, and glad you added that in to your post! Was hoping you would and think it adds so much to the overall write up!

      and the quesadilla method is outstanding!

      well done, my friend! Can’t wait for the next installment!

      Comment


      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        Thought you’d be happy to know I’m just finishing a pot of REAL Texas chili, no beans, no ‘maters. Very similar recipe to Birria, same chile paste. I’ll post it later, turned out great !!

      • barelfly
        barelfly commented
        Editing a comment
        Troutman - good stuff! That’s one reason I like to have the homemade adobo on hand, make just about anything with it!

      #4
      Great write up! I love birria tacos, but haven’t tried making them yet. I might give it a try next weekend.

      Comment


        #5
        Thank you for the Nexfilx tip on Taco Chronicles. I will have to check it out after rewatching The Queen's Gambit.

        Comment


          #6
          Amazing write-up! Those look sooo good, can't wait to try your recipe for this. The quesadilla method looks to be da bomb! (I need to quit looking at AR when I'm hungry)

          Comment


            #7
            I don’t know about others who have made these but just a warning, they will kick your ass. It took me 2 or so hours of initial prep one day, then an entire day for final assembly and cooking. It’s a long process. They’re good but not something I want to do on a regional basis.

            Comment


              #8
              Great write up trouty... Goat is on my list of meats I am going to eat more of in 2021.. Love em cabritos..

              Comment


              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Yea cabrito is pretty good, but chivo...meh. If I do these again I’m using lamb. Love to source some NZ lamb !!!

              • 58limited
                58limited commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm not exactly sure what I bought - cabrito or chivo. I asked the meat counter for 'goat' and they brought it from the back. It was not strong, tough, or gamey so maybe it was cabrito.

              #9
              I just tried Guga's Birria Tacos Sous Vide. I needed to salt the pork a little more and it wasn't hot enough. I have to dial it down so my wife could try it and it didn't work out right. At least I now know I can up the heat and do the actual recipe. I like that it can be a stew and a taco. I forgot about your version. Next time I want to try the traditional consumé. This looks so good. Great job!

              Comment

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