These spicy, authentic Mexican tacos are taking social media by storm.
Dipping these tacos into the rich broth they were made with is something you'll never forget. There's a reason why they're all over TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram!
Don't be fooled by how long this recipe takes; it's relatively simple once you're through with the braising step. The final product is similar to a simple quesadilla, so don't be intimidated. I streamlined a basic recipe to what I could find easily in my neighborhood shops, but you could tweak further if there's something missing near you.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 tacos)
- 2 lbs. beef shanks or chuck roast (don't use a lean cut of meat)
- 5 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
- 1 small onion, halved and peeled
- 3 dried guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed
- 7 dried chilis arbol, stems and seeds removed
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 8-10 small corn or flour tortillas
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese or queso blanco
- vegetable oil or butter for frying
- salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- chopped raw onion
- chopped cilantro
- lime wedges
Season the beef on both sides with salt and garlic powder. In a large Dutch oven, sear the meat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, dried chilis, onion, oregano, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and eight cups of water. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Remove all of the other solids except the meat with a slotted spoon and puree them in a food processor. Return them to the pot with a cup of crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Continue to simmer the beef, uncovered, for two hours or until fork tender. Keep an eye on the liquid and top off with water as needed.
Remove the beef from the pot, shred it, and set it aside. Set up your tortillas, cheese, and beef nearby while you set up a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry each taco with a little vegetable oil or butter (about half a teaspoon), but first dip each tortilla into the braising liquid. This will give the taco its trademark rusty color and additional flavor.
Sprinkle cheese, beef, and more cheese on the tortilla before carefully folding over and cooking for about a minute on each side. Serve these beauties with chopped onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and small bowls of the braising liquid on the side for dipping. This consommé is what truly makes the dish.
- Traditionally, these would be made with goat meat or lamb. The braising liquid is so rich and savory, it goes well with just about anything. I used beef shank for this recipe, then turned around and simmered some chicken thighs in the leftover consommé.
- Don't be discouraged if you can't find the exact types of dried peppers you see in a recipe. Do the best with what you can find locally, but keep an eye out for guajillo and arbol chilis when you're out and about.
- Corn tortillas are traditional, but flour tortillas are a good substitute if you prefer them.
This recipe does take hours, but your house will smell amazing as the meat simmers away. Double or even triple the recipe and watch them disappear! For even more great recipes like this one, check these out.
**photos courtesy of Sarina Petrocelly
Have you ever made birria tacos? Do you have any tips or secret ingredients? Let us know in the comments.