• Beef Birria


Birria Torta Ahogado

By Andrew Zimmern

For the last several years, birria recipes and all of their spinoffs (quesabirria! birria ramen! birria pizza!) have certainly had their time in the limelight. And while it may be trendy, no one can deny it is utterly delicious at its core — goat, beef or lamb, bathed in a deeply flavorful, rust-colored chile broth rich with warm spices, stewed until fall apart tender. I like to serve it ahogado-style. Tender meat stuffed into a soft bolillo-style roll, drenched in that craveable broth. Grab a stack of napkins, it’s messy.

Beef Birria



  • 4 to 5 pounds chuck roast, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • Salt/pepper
  • oil
  • 12 gaujillo chiles stemmed, and seeded
  • 5 ancho chiles stemmed, and seeded
  • 5 arbol chiles, stemmed
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup Mexican Fiesta seasoning

To serve

  • Bolillo rolls, hoagie bread, or similar soft roll
  • Sliced red onions
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Shredded Oaxacan cheese
  • Grated cotija cheese
  • Lime wedges


Season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides. In batches, brown the beef in oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reserve.

Add the guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, arbol chiles, tomatoes, onion, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and peppercorns to the pot. Cover completely with water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.

Place all the ingredients that were simmering into a large blender. Don’t discard the water! Add 1/2 cup of the chile-soaked cooking water, the beef broth, white vinegar, garlic, oregano, cloves and Mexican Fiesta spice mix. Blend on high until smooth.

Add the browned beef back to the pot. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer and pour over the meat. Discard any solids left in the strainer. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.

Now you can do several things here…. Transfer the meat to a large bowl and pull it apart with 2 forks. Serve with the sauce as a stew in bowls with diced onion and chopped cilantro. Or you can serve it as tacos with tortillas and condiments of your choice. Or you can reduce some sauce around some shredded meat and use the meat in a torta. Pour the sauce over the top and serve it ahogado style with onions, cheese and cilantro.

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