I’m so disappointed with Mexican cuisine in Germany. I should say it doesn’t really exist unless you call tomato sauce and catsup authentic Mexican sauce. Yes, seriously. Each time someone says, “I’ve found the best Mexican restaurant in town,” I get hopeful. However, I never once found anything close to “authentic” Mexican sauces or dishes while living here.
I’m so missing the true flavors from authentic Mexican food. The assorted savory bold flavors emitted from roasted ancho (poblano), chipotle, guajillo (sweet, fruity, and tangy), and other peppers can’t be replaced with catsup. Germany is not known for its variety of chilis or hot and spicy dishes. To recreate the delicious Birria sauce, I had to order dried chilis from amazon.de. After selling a kidney, searching recipes and Birria history online, borrowing some guidelines from Mely Martínez at Mexico in My Kitchen, plus words of advice from my daughter, Jericho, and her Mexican family, I got it!
Of course, I had to do my own thing, but if you ask any Mexican how to make this exquisite sauce, I discovered each one has their own little tweaks, even my daughter’s recipe. Some variations suggested adding: beer, ginger; lime juice; various cuts of meat such as goat; using a back-oven, stovetop, or crockpot, and even an Instant pot. Seasonings also varied from dried to fresh. Typically it is served with warm tortillas, diced white onions, Mexican cheese, fresh cilantro, sliced limes, and sliced jalapeños.
So if you’re living in Germany and missing the authentic flavors of Mexico and need this recipe right now, plus willing to fork-out a few euros, you can order the chiles online at amazon.de. If you’re living in the USA, you have more options and can use amazon.com or pick them up at any grocery store.
This recipe was straightforward, but of course, I added a few of my own tweaks and additions. The flavors were so bold yet not killer spicy hot. The ancho and guajillo peppers, with their robust flavors, don’t burn twice if you know what I mean. I added a chipotle pepper since I love their smoky flavor and a little bit more heat. I also added coconut vinegar, which I use for dressings and savory dishes. It worked great, but white vinegar does too. Be sure to shred the meat with two forks before serving. I used my kitchen scissors and snipped it into pieces.
Thanks to those who contributed and helped me find my way with this dynamic, delicious, and fantastic recipe. Oh, by the way, my husband is German, and “spicy hot” is not in their vocabulary or most dishes. With his first bite, his response was “delicious,” and he suggested using the leftovers as the base for German Goulash! LOL, seriously, I did! A few days later, I added potatoes, carrots, and a 1/2 cup of diced red pepper. It was the best German Goulash I have ever tasted!
Tribute to the Chef:
Birria means “exquisite savoy dish,” which expresses my sentiments exactly. It originated in Jalisco, Mexico. Later, chefs in Tijuana transformed the meat from the broth into today’s tacos. There are several theories on how this delicious soup came about in Jalisco. One idea was that the Spaniards introduced goats due to their ability to populate quickly. There became such an abundance of goats; it was considered useful in feeding many. Therefore it became the meat of choice. If you’re fascinated about learning more about the history of this exquisite meal, I suggest you check out this very cool article written by Rachel at Taco ’bout Delicious!. She has a super story about the history of this unique dish.
Authentic Birria Soup
- 3 dried Ancho chiles
- 6 dried Guajillo chiles
- 1 dried chipotle chili
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp of oregano
- 1/2 roasted garlic bulb (cut horizontally)
- 2 large roasted tomatoes
- 1 medium roasted onion
- 1/2 cup coconut vinegar or white vinegar
- Juice from 2 limes
- 1/2 cup of water or gluten-free beer
- 3-4 Pounds of any of the following meat or a combination (I used a combination of beef, pork, and oxtail to create 4 pounds in my recipe): goat or mutton, pot roast, pork shoulder, oxtail.
- Himalayan salt and Pepper to taste
- Step 1 Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and place in a large baking dish. I used my dutch oven roasting pan. Set it aside.
- Step 2 Cut the stem and veins from the chiles and clean out the seeds and make sure to keep them whole. Keeping them together makes it easier for the next step.
- Step 3 Place the dried chili peppers in a large frying pan on low. Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes. They should begin to smell savory to release the flavors and aromas. Careful you don’t burn them. Burning will make the sauce bitter. Once roasted, place them in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Set this aside.
- Step 4 Place: whole cloves, cinnamon, small bay leaf, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in the same frying pan as you used for the chiles and roasted them for 3 to 4 minutes to release the flavors. Once roasted, set them in a small bowl and add the 1 teaspoon of dry oregano. Give this a stir. If you have a coffee grinder, you can grind the toasted herbs and oregano together. It’s not necessary. They will get a beating when in the blender.
- Step 5 Slice the tomatoes and onions into three thick rings each and place on a cookie sheet. Slice the whole garlic bulb horizontal, so the buds stay together, and place cut side up on the cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes watching to make sure the tomatoes blister and onions and garlic brown. Once done, remove from the oven.
- Step 6 In a blender, add the drained soaked chiles, the roasted seasoning, the roasted tomatoes, and onions. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin into the blender. Blend on high until smooth.
- Step 7 Add the vinegar, the lime juice, and water or gluten-free beer. Blend until combined.
- Step 8 Pour over the meat and cover over the dish with a lid or foil—Bake in the oven at 350 F for 5 hours. You can also do this in your crockpot for 6-8 hours. Place it on high until it is warm and then turn to low.
- Step 9 Give it a peek now and then. You might have to add a bit more water. After 5 hours, the meat should be tender and falling apart. If not, leave it cooking for a while longer. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
- Step 10 Options for serving: sour cream, queso fresco, sliced radishes, diced onions, fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeños, warm gluten-free tortillas, and hot sauce just in case it’s not hot enough for you!