By Chad Sparrow
If you follow food trends, you have probably come across birria tacos at a restaurant or on social media. If you haven’t, I am here to enlighten you. You can thank me later.
Birria was invented in Mexico sometime during the 15th or 16th century in the state of Jalisco in a town called Cocula. It was originally made with goat, as goats were considered a nuisance animal and accessible for the lower class.
Birria’s popularity rose from people who were struggling and starving. I believe that many amazing foods and cuisines were derived from people making something out of nothing. For example, slaves in America created major elements of southern cuisine using parts of animals that were discarded or not wanted by slave owners.
Birria was originally a stew made from chilis, garlic and spices that was cooked for hours. It has now evolved, and chefs all over the world are experimenting with different variations of the traditional Jalisco dish.
Recently at Urbano 116, I added shredded beef and chicken birria tacos to the menu. We slow cook the meat, remove it from the liquid, add to a taco and then serve it with the consommé – the cooking liquid – for dipping. The juices from all the vegetables, spices, chilis and meat make for a warm, hearty, fall dish.
You can try this recipe with any type of meat you like. You can also use this consommé as a soup base.
The writer is managing partner of Common Plate Hospitality, the restaurant group that owns Mason Social, Urbano 116 and Augie’s Mussel House and Beer Garden.
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
2.5 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp ground oregano
Salt to taste
2 jalapeño peppers
2 serrano peppers
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onion, peeled
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
6 tomatillos with husks removed
½ a head of iceberg lettuce
12 crispy taco shells
Chopped onions and cilantro for garnish
- Put chicken and chicken stock in baking dish and salt chicken.
- Place all remaining ingredients except taco shells and garnish into blender. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Add a little water if needed.
- Add mixture to chicken and stock and mix around until incorporated with broth. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Remove chicken from liquid and shred. Taste broth and adjust with salt as needed.
- Serve chicken on taco shells topped with onions and cilantro and dip in birria consommé.