Recipe courtesy of Brandon Bobb, Executive Chef, Maketewah CC (Cincinnati, Ohio)
- Ingredients for the Birria
- lamb neck - 20 lbs.
- water and chicken stock - cover bones completely, at least 3-4 gallons
- salt - to taste
- pepper - to taste
- guajillo chiles - 10-12 ea., seeds removed
- ancho chiles - 4-6 ea., seeds removed
- ground chiles de arbol - 1 Tbsp.
- Mexican oregano - 3 Tbsp.
- roma tomatoes - 10-12 ea.
- white onions - 3 ea., rough chop
- garlic - 20-25 cloves
- smoky paprika - 1/2 cup
- chipotle in adobo - 1 whole can
- cumin seeds - 2 Tbsp., toasted then ground
- Separate From Stew
- red onions - as needed, small diced
- parsley - as needed, finely chopped
- six-inch corn tortillas
- Oaxaca cheese or another melting cheese (ex: Monterey Jack)
- Place those meaty bones in a heavy-duty pot (Chef's note: I used our steam kettle). Cover with water and homemade chicken stock. Turn your heat on. (Chef's note: Remember, we’re making a stew so don’t skimp on the liquid here! This isn’t a braise; it’s a stew.)
- Once the pot gets going, the "yuckies" will rise to the top. Get a ladle and remove them. Let continue to cook.
- Meanwhile, place some tomatoes, onions and garlic on a sheet tray. Add a neutral oil here. (Chef's note: I use a blended olive and canola oil.) Add some salt and pepper (Chef's note: We season as we go along. Layers! ). Then roast or broil in a high heat (425° F) oven until soft, blistered and slightly burnt or blackened. Pull and place on speed rack to cool.
- Get some good guajillo chiles and ancho chiles. Place them inside a blender with the chipotle in adobo and some very hot water to the blender. Steep the peppers until they relax and can be blended together. When ready, turn the machine on and blend them until they reach a consistent and very smooth texture.
- Pour this into the pot and, with no need to wash the blender, take it back and fill it with all your herbs and spices. Then put in the roasted vegetables and blend until smooth again. Add this to the pot.
- While you allow the the lamb to stew, dice up some red onions and cilantro. (Chef's note: The stew will take hours. I will not say how long, as it may be different for each person. Instead, I will tell you that, when the meat falls from the bones easily, with no resistance, then you are in a good place.)
- There will be a lot of fat separation on the top of your stew. Use a ladle and remove, then reserve the fat. (Chef's note: It's super important you keep this.) Also leave some fat in the stew for flavor.
- Remove the bones, and pull all the meat from the lamb.
- Get your consommé hot, and season to taste in a pot. Dip three six-inch corn tortillas in the reserved fat and place on a hot flat cooking surface. (Chef's note: Find a good-quality corn tortilla. It makes a huge difference.) Ladle some of the consommé on the tortillas. Add your cheese. (Chef's note: I place the lamb meat on the flat here. It is hot already, but I like to put a little crispness on the meat from the flat.)
- Season the lamb a little with salt and pepper. Place the lamb on each tortilla and add red onions and cilantro to finish. You will then fold the tortilla over to resemble the familiar taco shape and to hold in your tacos ingredients. (Chef's note: Make sure the tacos shells are crispy. It matters so much for texture.)
- Serve some consommé de birria on the side for dipping, and add more cilantro for garnish. Finally, dip the tacos in the consommé and enjoy!