Chef Robin Valdez shares his recipe for birria tacos (from Taco Star, May 2021). Photograph by Andi Murphy.
5 pounds beef chuck or prepared hibiscus (see below)
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large carrot, cubed
3 Ancho chiles
4 New Mexico red chiles or guajillo chiles
8 to 10 chiles de arbol
2 bay leaves
2 cloves, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 quarts beef stock (substitute water with vegan bullion or consommé for the vegan version)
Salt to taste
PREPARED HIBISCUS FLOWER
1 pound hibiscus flower
2 gallons boiling water
Remove seeds from chile pods and toast the chile and spices in a hot pan, 1–2 minutes until fragrant.
Salt each piece of beef thoroughly. Combine all ingredients in a roasting pan. Add enough stock to just cover all ingredients and cover tightly with foil. Braise in a 300° oven for 4 hours. (The vegan version should take about 2 hours.)
When meat is tender and falling apart, separate the meat, broth, and aromatics (chiles, onion, carrots). Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Blend the remaining aromatics down to a smooth paste and add it back into broth for a slightly thickened texture.
Shred the beef and add a couple ladles of the thickened broth back into the meat. Reserve the remaining broth as a consommé.
Serve with corn tortillas, fresh chopped cilantro, and white onion, and a side of consommé for dipping.
Prepared Hibiscus Flower
Bring 1 gallon of water to boil. Remove the water from heat and soak the hibiscus flowers in it overnight.
Strain and reserve liquid. (The liquid can be used to make agua fresca.) After straining and rinsing the flowers, soak again in another gallon of boiling water an hour prior to cooking. Strain again and follow instructions above.