Birria is a rich red stew that originated in western Mexico, in the state of Jalisco. Traditionally it was made with lamb or goat, but today, places called birrerias serve all kinds of variations on the stew, made with chicken, beef, or other meats. Some chiles and spices just work better with different types of meat (usually dark with dark, light with light), so for our beef stew we make an adobo using dark, earthy, aromatic chiles. Since there are a lot of moving parts to this recipe, you may want to do a few of the steps—such as marinating the beef and making the pickles—a day before. Also, be sure to make the adobo first, since you need it for both the birria and this dish’s accompanying salsa.
A good trick is to start searing the short ribs with their fatty sides down so they release their own fats for sautéing. And if you can get your hands on a banana leaf, or better yet an agave leaf, it’s worth it—the leaf is the source of much of the dish’s earthy flavor. — from Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo González Guzmán and Stacy Adimando. Buy this book from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.
Reprinted with permission from Nopalito by Gonzalo González Guzmán and Stacy Adimando, 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2013 Eva Kolenko.