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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Quesabirria Tacos

Quesabirria is a Mexican dish with origins in Tijuana comprised of birria-style cooked meatc folded into a tortilla with melted cheese and served with a side of broth for dipping. Originally, this was made with goat meat, but most people now use beef.



This is my first attempt at making them for myself. I think it went pretty well though R commented that my broth was less red in color and less oily.


Our Quesabirria Journey


Back in 2022, we took a secret food tour of San Francisco's Mission District that introduced us to quesabirria at La Vaca Birria.



Then we stumbled upon a birria food truck in Paso Robles during my fiftieth birthday get-away. Jake says that might be his favorite iteration of this dish. Of course I took that as a personal challenge. I finally got around to making my own version. R had messaged that he would be coming down to grab an old computer for a project...that he would arrive at 6pm. I told him dinner would be ready at 7pm. Nothing gives me more joy than feeding my boys and their friends!



While they took apart the (ancient) Macintosh Plus and cleaned it out, I finished up dinner and set the table. Please note that my rub is not traditional; I wanted to add cocoa powder to mimic the depth of flavor that I love in mole (my three-chile mole).



Ingredients

Birria-Style Beef

  • 3 to 4 pounds beef (I used a brisket)

  • 1 Tablespoon oil

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 dried ancho chile, seeds and stem removed

  • 1 dried guajillo chile, seeds and stem removed

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered

  • 3 carrots, cut into 3-inch lengths

  • 3 to 4 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch lengths

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed

  • 1 tomato, halved

  • 4 cups beef stock


Tacos

  • 20 to 24 yellow corn tortillas

  • 4 to 5 cups shredded Chihuahua or Oaxaca cheese

  • oil for the pan


Serving

  • Crema Oaxaqueña

  • a variety of salsas

  • fresh chopped white onions

  • fresh chopped cilantro

  • fresh lime wedges



Birria-Style Beef

In a small bowl mix together the oregano, cocoa powder, paprikas, cumin, salt, and pepper. Place the brisket on a plate and massage the spice blend evenly into all sides of the beef.


Heat oil in a large lidded pot; I use a Dutch oven. Sear the spiced brisket for about 3 minutes on each surface. Add the remaining ingredient into the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let the meat braise for 3 to 4 hours.


Remove the meat from braising liquid. Turn the heat up on the liquid and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about a third. In the meantime, use two forks to shred the brisket. Pour some of the braising liquid in to shallow rimmed bowl; pour the rest over the shredded beef until ready to assemble the tacos.



Tacos

Heat a slick of oil on a skillet. Dip two tortillas in the braising liquid and place it on the skillet. Scatter cheese over the tortilla and place shredded beef on one half. Let sizzle until golden brown and melted, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. You can keep the finished tacos warm in the oven on a baking sheet until ready to serve.



Spoon some of the braising liquid into ramekins or small bowls. Serve with Crema Oaxaqueña, a variety of salsas, fresh chopped white onions, fresh chopped cilantro, and fresh lime wedges.

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