This tasty recipe (and ultimate comfort dish!) from Chef Rosana Rivera was chosen as one of the grand prize winners of the RyR Pairing Challenge with Chef’s Roll. Based in Tampa and the winner of season 22 of Beat Bobby Flay, Chef Rosana Rivera developed this delicious dish as a custom pairing to highlight the spice and fruit of Ribera del Duero wines. Picked from more than 50+ other top pairings submitted by Chefs from around the country, this is the perfect duo. The wine balances the fattiness of the birria broth, as you dip the taco into it and wash it down with a sip of a strong, delightful Ribera Tempranillo you’ll have a bite made in heaven.
Notes from our test kitchen
It’s no secret that Birria has been one of the runaway food favorites of 2020. From coast to coast, birria trucks and stands are popping to much acclaim, taking birria to burritos, tortas and beyond. Food & Wine even listed birria as one of the “21 biggest food trends of 2021 according to chefs” as people return to meals that focus on comfort. This version takes a bit of time, and it is more than worth it.
This recipe can be made in a slow cooker or dutch oven. The chiles can be found online or at a grocery store that stocks Mexican products. When you buy your chiles, be sure to also purchase the Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese.
Chef Rosana has included her recipe for tortillas if you’d like to try your hand. High-quality store-bought tortillas work here as well, just be sure to warm them before using. Try asking your favorite Mexican grocer or restaurant where they source their tortillas, you likely have a great tortillera near you.
Chef Rosana’s Birria
Yield: 4 portions Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 3 hours
- 2 lbs beef chuck roast (sub for lamb shoulder or goat, if desired)
- 2 Tbsp Sazon (see below for a few brands to try)
- 2 Tbsp Adobo (see below for a few brands to try)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
- 4 Guajillo chiles
- 4 Pasilla chiles
- 2 to 3 cups of water
- 1 cup Ribera del Duero Tempranillo wine
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
- Season the chuck on all sides with the adobo and sazon.
- Preheat a dutch oven or large, heavy pot over high heat. Add olive oil. Sear meat thoroughly on both sides until golden brown. Remove from heat, set the chuck on a plate and set aside.
- Reduce heat, add all the spices to the same pan, including the cinnamon, and cook while stirring until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a separate pot, boil the water with the guajillo and pasilla chiles for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Once pliable, remove from heat and allow to cool down.
- Using an immersion blender or a high-speed kitchen blender, blend the chiles with the water until smooth.
- Return chuck to the spice mixture, placing the meat, spices, wine and vinegar together in the dutch oven. Top with the pureed chile. Make sure the liquid covers the beef, if it does not, add more water to cover.
- Braise over low heat until meat is spoon tender at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours; follow instructions for slow cooker if using.
- Once the meat is braised and spoon-tender, remove from heat and set covered pot aside, keep the meat in the liquid.
- Once the meat has cooled sufficiently, shred with forks or with your hands.
Red Wine Pickled Onions
Yield: 10 portions Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes
- 1/2 Yellow onion
- 1 1/2 cups Ribera del Duero wine
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
- Slice the onion into very thin strips, 1/8″ thick.
- In a saucepot, add the wine, vinegar, salt & sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and immediately add the onions. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.
- Refrigerate in a glass jar, until ready to use. Can be refrigerated for up to 30 days.
Quesabirria Tacos – Assembly
Yield: 4 portions Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Fresh corn tortillas
- Birria reserved liquid
- 4 cups shredded Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese
- Birria stew meat, shredded
- Lime wedges
- Fresh cilantro, picked, washed and dried
- Avocado, sliced
- Red wine pickled onions
- Pre-heat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat.
- Dip 3/4 of the corn tortilla in the birria broth skimming the fat as you go along.
- Place the tortillas on the griddle and top with approximately ½ cup of shredded cheese spreading to 1/4″ from the edge.
- Once the cheese melts and bubbles, remove from heat with a spatula, top with shredded meat, onions, avocado & cilantro. Close the taco if desired.
- Serve with birria broth on the side for additional dipping.
Yield: 10 portions Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour
- 1 3/4 cups masa harina
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot tap water
- Mix the masa harina with 3/4 of the hot water, then knead until smooth, adding more water or more masa harina to achieve a very soft (but not sticky) consistency. Cover with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
- When you’re ready to cook the tortillas, readjust the consistency of the masa, then divide into 15 balls and cover with plastic.
- Heat a large, ungreased, heavy griddle or 2 heavy skillets: one end of the griddle (or one skillet) over medium-low, the other end (or the other skillet) over medium to medium-high.
- Cut 2 squares of heavy plastic to fit the plates of your tortillas press. With the press open, place a square of plastic over the bottom plate, set a ball of dough in the center, cover with the second square of plastic, and gently flatten the dough between.
- Close the top plate and press down gently but firmly with the handle, to an even 1/16-inch thickness. Open the press and peel off the top sheet of plastic.
- Flip the tortillas onto one hand, dough side down, then starting at one corner, gently peel off the remaining sheet of the plastic. Lay the tortilla onto the cooler end of the griddle (or the cooler skillet).
- In about 20 seconds, when the tortilla loosens itself from the griddle (but the edges have not yet dried or curled), flip it over onto the hotter end of the griddle (or onto the hotter skillet)
- When lightly browned in spots underneath, 20 to 30 seconds more, flip a second time, back onto the side that was originally down. If the fire is properly hot, the tortilla will balloon up like a pita bread. When lightly browned, another 20 or 30 seconds, remove from the griddle (it will completely deflate) and wrap in a towel.
- Press, unmold and cook the remaining balls of masa, placing each hot tortilla on top of the last and keeping the stack well wrapped.
- Let the wrapped stack of tortillas rest for about 15 minutes to finish their cooking, soften and become pliable.