Birria Tacos

Total Time:
3 hr 50 min
40 min
3 hr 10 min

6-8 servings

  • 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 dried California chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 5 dried pasilla chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 dried ancho chile peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste (available at Latin markets)
  • Pinch of cumin seeds
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 12 to 16 small corn tortillas, warmed
  • Pickled red onions, for topping (below)
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Put the short ribs in a large heavy pot. Season with 3 teaspoons salt and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming any foam from the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the meat is tender, 2 hours, 30 minutes to 3 hours. Transfer the short ribs to a cutting board with a slotted spoon and let cool slightly, then shred the meat from the bone. Skim the fat off the broth in the pot; reserve the broth.

  • Meanwhile, soak the dried chiles in warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender; add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppercorns, achiote paste and cumin and process until smooth, adding water if necessary.

  • Mix about 1 cup reserved broth into the chile puree, then pour the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into the pot of broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 30 minutes. Add the shredded meat and simmer 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Use tongs to divide the meat among the tortillas. Top with pickled onions; serve with the remaining cooking liquid and lime wedges.

  • Pickled Red Onions

  • Mix 1 thinly sliced large red onion, 3/4 cup each white vinegar and water, 6 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each crumbled oregano and salt in a large resealable plastic bag; seal and shake, then refrigerate at least 24 hours.

  • Photograph by Andrew McCaul

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    This recipe is featured in:

    Cinco de Mayo