Quesabirria (birria tacos) recipe based on the one from SmokedBBQsource.com.
Salsa recipe based on one from Oscar Mezar.
- 5 lb chuck roast
- 3 Tbsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ Tbsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
For the consommé
- 3 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil
- 1 large can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, juice from the can separated and set aside
- 4 Tbsp chipotles with adobo sauce
- 16 peppercorns
- 16 allspice berries
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bulb of garlic, 8-10 cloves, peeled
- 3” stick Mexican cinnamon (canela) (Mexican cinnamon is less hard and tough than “regular” cinnamon sticks and is much better for this recipe)
- 4 guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
- 3 ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
- ½ white or yellow onion
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 ½ Tbsp salt
- ¼ C cider vinegar
- 2 C water
For the tacos themselves
- 10–16 oz grated Mexican melting cheese (or low-moisture mozzarella)
- Corn tortillas
- Diced white onion
- Salsa (see included recipe for a good suggestion)
First, get the meat smoking
- Preheat your smoker to 275°F (135°C). Use the air probe from your Smoke X2 to monitor the temp and make sure it stays in the right range.
- Cut the chuck into pieces that are about 3″ cubes. Toss them with the dry rub.
- Place the meat chunks in the smoker and probe them with a leave-in probe. Set the high-temp alarm on your Smoke X2 for 160°F (71°C). Smoke the meat.
In the meantime, make the consommé
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Cook the tomatoes in the oil for about 3 minutes.
- Add the chipotles, garlic, pepper, and allspice. Crush the canela stick and add it. In fact, add all the consommé ingredients, including the reserved juice from the canned tomatoes.
- Stir them together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- After the hour is up, move all the contents of the pot to a blender jar and puree. Remember to start on low speed whenever blending hot ingredients!
- Add more water if the result seems too pasty. You want a semi-viscous but easily pourable mixture.
Smoke-braise the meat
- When the high-temp alarm sounds on your Smoke X2, move the meat chunks to a pan that is deep enough to hold them.
- Fill the pan with the hot consommé. Cover with foil.
- Put the pan of meat in the smoker and insert a probe through the foil into a large meat chunk. Set the high-temp alarm on the meat channel for 203°F (95°C).
- Increase your smoker’s temperature to 300°F (149°C).
- Smoke-braise the meat.
- When the high-temp alarm sounds, verify both the temperature and the tenderness with a Thermapen. If it is either not hot enough or not yet probe-tender, continue to cook.
- Remove the meat from heat.
Make the tacos!
- Remove the meat from the braising liquid and shred it.
- Heat a cast-iron pan or a griddle to 350–375°F (177–191°C). (You can use an infrared thermometer to get it just right.)
- Dip a tortilla through the liquid fat on top of the consommé into the soup underneath, then pull it out and place it on the griddle. Cook it for about 15–20 seconds on one side, then flip it over with a spatula.
- Place a small heap (1–2 Tbsp) of shredded cheese on one side of the tortilla, then a small pile of meat. Don’t overfill them!
- Fold one half of the tortilla over the fillings and cook the taco for about 30 seconds before flipping it over and cooking on the other side for about 30–45 seconds.
- Remove the taco to a platter and continue to cook the remaining tacos. Cook as many at one time as you can fit on your griddle.
- Serve with cilantro, limes, onion, and salsa! You can also pass the remaining consommé at the table for dipping.
- Optional final step: go back to the store and buy more ingredients so you can make them again tomorrow.
Salsa recipe to accompany quesabirria
Though you can use any salsa you like for these tacos, we find that this version works particularly well with them. And it’s incredibly easy to make, so that’s nice.
For the Salsa
- 10–12 medium tomatillos
- 3 chile negro pods (dried pasilla chilies), stems removed
- 15 chili de arbol pods, stems removed
- 1/2 medium onion
- 5–8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 bunch cilantro
- salt to taste
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
- Add the de-husked tomatillos and the dried chilies to the pot and boil for 8–10 minutes.
- Remove the tomatillos and chilies from the water and put them in the jar of a blender. Add the onion, garlic, and cilantro.
- Blend, starting on low speed because the ingredients are hot, working up to high speed until the salsa is well blended and smooth.
- Add salt to taste.
This recipe makes well more than you’ll need for the tacos, and you’ll be glad. Get a bag of tortilla chips and go to town.