The traditional Mexican dish birria de res (beef birria) has leapt from California taco hashtags to the rest of the United States and beyond over the past couple of years. Worthy renditions are generating the word of mouth necessary for success away from social media and beyond large coastal cities.Case in point: Becca and Salvador Alamilla opened Amano, a Mexican restaurant set in a former bank lobby (complete with vaults) in Caldwell, Idaho, in August 2019. Though Caldwell has a population of just under 57,000, the Alamillas have sold close to 25,000 birria de res tacos (listed as “L.A. Birria Tacos” on the menu) during the pandemic. “We were very familiar with birria de res, since I grew up eating it as a celebratory dish and even had it at our wedding,” says Sal. “My grandfather, Guadalupe, used to make it for us growing up the way he made it from el rancho in Michoacan. When we were deciding which dishes to put on the menu, we realized we had a real opportunity to bring this dish to Idaho, since no one was doing this type of meat or style of taco. Our opening also coincided with tacos de birria exploding on the food scene in California, which helped drive their popularity here.” The spicy, salty, meaty comfort of birria de res lends itself to countless cross-cultural applications. For example, birria ramen mania has firmly taken hold in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, two sizable regions where the dish is also seen in pho and on top of pizzas, gyros and burgers. We imagine it won’t be long before we see the stew inside Chinese potsticker wrappers or with a side of crispy Persian rice. If there was such a thing as a Comfort Meat Hall of Fame, birria de res would surely now deserve induction.Amano, which also has a birria hash on its brunch menu, grinds masa from heirloom corn in-house daily to make tortillas for their L.A. birria tacos, which Becca attests “does make a big difference.” Serve Salvador’s approachable recipe below, with store-bought or homemade corn tortillas, homemade salsas, and plenty of stringy queso Oaxaca.


Salsa Cruda<\/em>
6 Roma tomatoes
2/3 cup water
1/4 white onion, peeled
8 chiles de árbol
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, divided
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 white onion, peeled and finely diced
Salsa Picosa<\/em>
8 Roma tomatoes
4 tomatillos
1 quart water
12 chiles de árbol (deseeded and destemmed)
2 chiles guajillo (deseeded and destemmed)
2 chiles morita (deseeded and destemmed)
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
Birria Marinade<\/em>
1/2 gallon water
20 chiles guajillo (destemmed and deseeded)
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
5 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 white onion
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup birria marinade
To serve:<\/em>
Corn tortillas
Reserved birria consomé
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ounce Queso Oaxaca, shredded
1 ounce salsa cruda
1 ounce salsa picosa
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white onion, finely chopped


Step 1
For the salsa cruda: Add tomatoes, water, the 1/4 onion that hasn’t been diced, chiles de árbol, oregano, and sea salt in a blender, and blend with 2/3 cup water to desired consistency. Transfer salsa to a serving bowl, stir in the diced onion, and cover until ready to use.

Step 2
For the salsa picosa: In a medium pot, add tomatoes, peeled tomatillos, and a quart of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for five minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. In a skillet over medium heat, add chiles de árbol, chiles guajillo, and chiles morita. Toast the chiles until slightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Add all the ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer contents to a serving bowl, and cover until ready to use.

Step 3
For the birria marinade: Add 1/2 gallon of water and the guajillo chiles to a medium pot, bring to a boil, and let steep for 10 minutes. Add all ingredients (including the water used for boiling) to a blender, and blend until smooth. Extra marinade will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week (or freeze to use next time).

Step 4
For the birria de res: Add beef chuck to a medium roasting pan. Pour vinegar over beef, and rub with your hands to incorporate, then repeat with sea salt.

Step 5
Add marinade, and rub to incorporate evenly. Cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap, transfer to the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.

Step 6
Transfer the roasting pan to a 325ºF oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef from the oven, reserving the drippings and juice (consomé).

Step 7
To assemble the tacos: Heat canola oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Dip tortilla into consomé and immediately lay down carefully over oil.

Step 8
In 12 seconds, flip the tortilla and quickly add queso Oaxaca, making sure to distribute evenly. Add birria, salsa cruda, salsa picosa, cilantro, and onion, and fold taco carefully in half. Let cook for 1 minute.

Step 9
Flip taco carefully and cook for another 2 minutes until crispy. \n

Step 10
Taco is ready to serve with salsa and consomé. Make sure to dip it before your first bite. \n