Pork Birria Tacos
Birria is a meaty stew made with beef, lamb or pork. For this recipe, we’ve chosen delicious and inexpensive pork shoulder, but feel free to use beef chuck roast or other cuts. The secret is to use a fatty meat that will render well and become the frying oil for the tacos. Dried chiles are also a crucial component to creating authentic birria, so don’t omit them as an ingredient. Feel free to use an instant cooker to substantially speed up the process. We recommend making extras, as the meat and sauce freeze really well and because these tacos disappear fast!
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1-3 hours (varies)
Special tools: instant cooker (optional)
6 guajillo chiles (dried peppers)
3 c chicken stock
hot sauce, if desired
¼ c safflower or vegetable oil
4 lb pork shoulder (or beef chuck roast)
2 T each salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
3 T garlic (6 cloves) minced
2 t each coriander and cumin, ground
1 T dried oregano
Pinch of cinnamon, allspice and cloves
3 T white wine vinegar
14 oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted)
2 bay leaves
18-24 corn tortilla
1 lb Oaxacan cheese (or Jack), chopped or shredded
yellow onion (minced), cilantro and limes for garnish
Remove stems and most seeds from chiles. In dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast chiles just until fragrant, stirring often, approx. 2 min. Add chicken stock and a few dashes hot sauce, if desired, and remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes.
In a Dutch oven or instant cooker, heat oil to sauté (high); cut meat into 1 lb chunks, season generously with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Remove meat from pot and set aside. To the pot, add onion, cooking until soft, approx. 2 min. Add garlic and spices and cook 1 min. Add vinegar and tomatoes, bringing to a simmer.
Spoon about half of mixture into chilies, transferring chili mixture to a blender or processor and puree until smooth (hold lid down or steam will explosively pop the top). Add meat to pot, covering with pureed chili sauce. Add bay leaves, cover tightly and cook until very tender (3 hours in 325F oven, or 45 min. in instant cooker on high). Shred and remove meat, reserving all sauce.
To assemble tacos, dip tortillas in fat layer on surface of sauce, and place in well-oiled nonstick or cast iron skillet. Sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese and two tablespoons of meat on each tortilla, folding over when cheese melts. Continue frying on each side until crispy. Serve immediately, garnished with limes, cilantro, onion, and plenty of warm birria sauce for dipping.