Dried chiles are rehydrated and blended with cooked onion, spices, and tomatoes to make the sauce used to slowly cook chunks of beef.
We carry dried chiles when we can get them, but availability has been spotty. You can usually find dried chiles at stores catering to Mexican-American shoppers.
For the shopping list
De Arbol Chiles
Beef (chuck or similar beef for stew), cut into 2 inch pieces
From our shop
$9 - Pantelleria - Sicily
Our Mediterranean oregano is a little different from Mexican oregano, but either will work.
From the kitchen
Take the meat out of the cooking liquid and chop it, then dip corn tortillas into the broth before frying them in a little olive oil. Add grated cheese as the tortilla cooks to make the quesadilla-taco mashup called quesabirria. Serve either with a bowl of the broth, called consome in Spanish, for dipping."
Seed and destem chiles by cutting a slit down one side and pulling out the seed core and stem. Put them in a sauce pan with 2 cups of the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Cook the onion in a splash of olive oil until soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs, spices, and sesame seeds, cook for another minute, then remove from the heat and cool. Most birria recipes don’t brown the meat before braising, but it does add a little flavor, so go for it if you want to.
Working in batches, transfer the chiles with their cooking water and the cooked onions to a blender. Blend until smooth, then combine the batches with the vinegar and crushed tomatoes. Pour it over the beef and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least a few hours.
Browned or not, put the beef and marinade in a Dutch oven or baking dish, cover, and bake at 300F for about 3 hours or until the meat shreds easily.