1 tbsp of sunflower oil
1½ kg of braising steak, cut into 15cm cubes
4 guajillo chillies (available online), stem and seeds removed, or dried chillies
1 large ancho chilli (available online), stem and seeds removed
4 arbol chillies (available online; optional)
2 medium tomatoes, cut in half
1 medium onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
3 black peppercorns
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 bone marrow discs (ask your butcher)
15g sea salt flakes
2 bay leaves
To serve: handful of coriander, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 limes, cut into small wedges
24 warmed corn tortillas (optional)
grated mozzarella (optional)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based, ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat and brown the braising steak all over, about 8-10 mins. Set aside.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and toast the guajillo and ancho chillies for 2 mins, making sure not to burn them. Add the optional arbol chillies if you want the birria to be spicier. Transfer to a lidded saucepan with the tomatoes and onion. Peel the garlic and add it too. Add 500ml water, cover, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 mins. Turn the heat off and set aside to cool.
Transfer the tomatoes, onion, and chillies to a blender, reserving the cooking liquor. Add the spices, vinegar, and 2 tbsp of the cooking liquor to the blender, then blend until smooth. Heat the oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
Place the meat back over a medium heat, then add the bone marrow, salt, and bay leaves. Pass the blended chilli sauce through a sieve into the pan to ensure it’s silky smooth. Pour in 1 litre of water and the remaining cooking liquor. Cover and transfer to the oven for 3 hrs until the meat is tender and falling apart. After 1 hr 30 mins, season to taste.
Remove the meat from the broth using a slotted spoon, transfer to a board, and shred using two forks. The broth should have thickened.
To serve, put shredded beef in a bowl, pour over the broth, then garnish with coriander, onion, and spicy salsa. Serve with limes on the side for squeezing over. Alternatively, heat a corn tortilla, add some shredded birria beef and garnish with coriander, onion, and a squeeze of lime, and serve the broth on the side in a small cup. To make a quesabirria, heat a corn tortilla, add some grated mozzarella cheese and some of the beef. Once the cheese has melted, pour 1 tbsp of the broth under and over the tortilla, and serve more broth on the side.