A little bit of effort goes a long way. Camp Mexican-style beef birria on a warm-in-the-sun-but-chilly-in-the-shade sort of day hits the spot like very little else. Marinade the night before, toss it into a dutch oven in the morning, and you have incredible soul touchingly good tacos and soup by lunch.
This is a recipe for those special days where you want to just relax, cook, and have a meal that touches the soul. It’s a Sunday type meal for those endless hours around camp with an icy brew in your hand. Or those days that you want to break away from the monotony of simple and quick camp food, and treat a small group of friends, and yourself, to a great meal.
Birria is a best described as a soup or stew that you can enjoy with warm tortillas. Or it can be a tacos with a side of soup. You choose to enjoy this delicious meal however you want. It can warm up the soul on those chiller days, or cool you off on much warmer nights as you sweat away eating such a body-warming and sweat inducing food.
Birria de res Ingredients:
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 3 hours
1lb of beef chuck roast or beef cheeks
6 Dried California chilis
6 Dried Guajillo chilis
8 Dried Ancho chilis (this recipe is medium hot, use less ancho for less spiciness)
2 large white onions
1 bundle of cilantro
6 cloves of garlic
6 Bay leaves
6 whole dried cloves
6 whole dried cumin
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbs fish sauce or 4 anchovies
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste Tortillas
Mortar and pestle
Directions for Birria de res:
Start with the meat marinade. Bring a small to medium sized pot of water to boil. As you wait for the water to come up to temperature, devein and deseed the chilis. Be sure to remember to not wipe your eyes afterwards! Once the water is boiling, put in the chilis, cover, and bring the heat down to a slow simmer. Let the chilis simmer away for 10-15 minutes until they have rehydrated. Cut up the beef into one inch cubes.
With your mortar and pestle, start by grounding the whole dried cloves and cumin to a powder. Place into a medium sized to large mixing bowl. Smash the 1/2 an onions, 4 garlic cloves, and chilis into a paste and transfer into the mixing bowl. Do this in separate and small batches as depending on the size of your mortar and pestle. You don’t want to overcrowd it as it’ll make it harder to smash. Once all the dry ingredients are smashed and made into a paste, mix together, toss in the the cubed beef, and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place meat plus the thick marinade into a ziplock bag and let the flavors meld in an ice box or refrigerator. Give it an hour minimum, but overnight is recommended.
When you’re ready to cook, prepare your coals. If you’re using coals from a campfire, make sure the flame is gone and you have coals that are glowing and hot. If you’re using store bought briquettes, heat up the coals at least 15-20 minutes before you start cooking.
Place all the beef and marinade into a dutch oven and add water till everything is covered up. Add in the other half an onion, the the garlic cloves, the bay leaves, and the apple cider vinegar. Mix together and place on a bed of 6 coals at the bottom and 4 coals on top of the dutch oven’s lid. Let the birria cook for a minimum of 3 hours. During the cooking process, make sure you always hear a slow bubbling away inside the dutch oven. If the bubbles start slowing down, heat up more coals, and place on the bottom of the pot.
After 3 hours, check beef for desired tenderness. Once desired tenderness has been reached, add in the fish sauce or canned anchovies. Taste and add additional salt, pepper if needed. Add sugar or honey if the soup is too acidic. You’re looking for a good balance of salt, acidity, heat, and beefiness.
Dice up the onions, cilantro, and limes for tacos and soup. Top tacos with your the salsa of your choice, before diving in, and enjoy!