Birria on the Grill

How to make Birria on the Grill

Smoked Birria de res Tacos

It's getting chile in here! Good thing we have a Kamado Joe Classic III Ceramic Charcoal grill and an easy Birria recipe to heat things up!

Serve this birria de res as taco filling or as a stew with the flavorful broth it's cooked in. It can be made in a slow cooker or an instant pot, but our own Chef Tom Jackson will show you how to make it on a fiery charcoal grill.

Andale, Andale, Birria, Birria!

Birria (pronounced BIR-ia with a rolled 'r' if you can manage it) is a traditional Mexican dish that originates in Jalisco, a western state on the Pacific Ocean home to the well-known city of Guadalajara. They've been eating birria and birria tacos there for centuries, using goat meat in the original version. The accompanying herbs and spices were added in order to cover up the unpleasant aromas from the gamey meat.

What's In a Name?

Despite its long history, birria has only taken off here in the United States in the last couple years. And since beef is the king of all meats here in the U.S. we decided to use it for our birria recipe. This technically makes it more of a birria de res, with "de res" translating to "of the cow."

There are so many different birria recipes out there, and you should have no trouble finding one that fits you and your tastes the best. Some other more popular variations include:

  • Birria de chivo (goat birria, aka the OG)

  • Birria ramen

  • Quesabirria tacos (birria with loads of melted cheese)

  • Veal birria

  • Lamb birria

  • Pork birria

You should definitely start with our beef birria recipe, though, of course!

Sachet away!

Our birria de res recipe makes use of a sachet (sa-SHAY), which is a white sack filled with herbs and spices and wrapped in twine. A sachet allows smaller, aromatic spices and herbs to make their way into the meat and broth without having to fish them out individually after you're done with them.

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In this recipe we use a mixture of bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves and juniper or allspice berries, so you can see why having a nice little sack to put those in can be helpful.

O Broth, Where Art Thou?

Have you ever had someone start telling you about a new broth they're using on their beef chuck roast recipe, only for them to quit using the word broth entirely in favor of something called consommé? Don't let it confuse you, because we are here to tell you that broth and consommé are basically the same thing.

Technically speaking, consommé is a purified broth that you can see through to the bottom. It may also appear as a standalone item on a fancy restaurant menu. Broth is a liquid with simpler textures and flavors.

In the culinary world, consommé is more commonly associated with birria, but what our birria de res creates is thicker and not see through at all, so we like to refer to it as a broth. In many cases, the words are used interchangeably.

The Scoville Scale

When it comes to pop culture, spiciness has never been hotter. Opinions are now called hot takes, popular game shows challenge their contestants with various eye-watering peppers, and celebrities appear on a web series called "Hot Ones" where they test their mouth's mettle while being interviewed.

As a result of this uptick in familiarity, more and more people have become aware of something called the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale is a standardized measurement for the pungency (heat) of chili peppers. It was developed by an American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville in the early 20th century, and it uses Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) to measure individual peppers.

Here are some popular peppers along with their ranking in SHUs:

  1. Carolina Reaper: 2,200,000

  2. Ghost pepper: 1,041,427

  3. Habanero: 350,000

  4. Tabasco: 50,000

  5. Jalapeño: 10,000

  6. Guajillo: 8,000

  7. Poblano: 2,000

  8. Bell: 0

The ATBBQ Recipe: Birria de res Tacos

Make this street vendor classic at home on the grill and enjoy some of the classic flavors of old school Mexico.


Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cook Time:

3 hours

Total Time:

3 hours, 10 minutes


Skill Level:

Easy

Cost to Make:

$

Cuisine:

Mexican

Course:

Lunch

Yield:

8+ Tacos


Ingredients

In the Sachet:

  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1” cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp juniper or allspice berries

For the tacos:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Diced onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Queso fresco

Instructions

Build a hot charcoal fire in the Kamado Joe Classic III Ceramic Charcoal Grill. Open up that air flow to 550ºF. Set up half of the grill with a Half Moon Cast Iron Skillet, smooth side up, and the other half with the standard grate.

Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles. Toast them on the griddle until they are aromatic and softened, which should take about 30-60 seconds per side. Take them off and set aside for now.

Season your beef with Jacobsen Salt Co. Kosher Salt and fresh cracked Jacobsen Tellicherry Black Peppercorn. Pour some avocado oil on all sides. Be sure to work in batches so as to not overcrowd the dutch oven. Sear the beef on all sides, remove and set aside.

Toss the diced onions in the dutch oven. Cook them until they are translucent, then add the garlic and ginger. Let that cook for about a minute, then add the canned tomatoes and seasonings. Stir it all up to incorporate and break up the tomatoes.

Throw in the toasted dried chiles along with some beef stock and the sachet. Bring the red chile sauce to a simmer. Cover it with the lid, then close the Kamado Joe and stabilize the temperature at 350ºF.

Cook until the chiles are tender and rehydrated, which should take about 20 minutes. Remove the chiles from the broth and transfer them to the blender. Add the 2 cups of broth to the blender and blend until totally smooth. You can strain that chile sauce if you feel the need, but that's certainly not necessary if you're using a Vitamix blender.

Drop the beef chunks and marrow bones to the dutch oven. Return the puréed chile mixture to the broth. Rinse out the pitcher with water and throw that in. Cover with a lid.

Cook until you've got boneless beef that's pull apart tender, which should take at least 2 hours. You can add additional water as needed to keep the beef submerged.

Remove the sachet from the broth as well as the beef, which should fall right off the bones. Chop up the beef and discard the bones.

Add water to the broth until it has a soup-like consistency. Return it to the grill on medium heat.

To make birria tacos, use two warm corn tortillas per taco. Dip one in the beef broth, then toast it on the griddle. Toast the second one on the griddle without dipping. When the tortillas are lightly toasted but still soft, place the tortilla dipped in beef broth on top of the plain tortilla and add the shredded beef. Top it all with chopped onions, chopped cilantro and crumbled cheese. Ladle some broth over the taco and serve.

To serve as a birria stew, ladle the broth into a bowl or cup, then add the shredded meat. Garnish the same way you did with the tacos.

If you end up with leftovers, you can freeze them to enjoy this beautiful birria later, too!

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