Beef Birria Tacos

Photo of Beef Birria Tacos with broth for dippingThe Humble Taco
Life is good at keeping you humble in big and small ways. My latest karmic reminder that I’m not as cool and all-knowing as I thought I was, came in the form of a taco.

I think I have made it obvious over the many years that I have been writing these posts that I am a big fan of Mexican cuisine. So much so that I felt confident that I had a better than average knowledge of regions, techniques, and any number of popular recipes. Imagine my surprise a few months back when I was introduced to Birria Tacos.

For something that is as ubiquitous and widely revered as Birria Tacos, you would think that someone for whom Mexican food is life would have come across it early on in the love affair. You would be wrong. And, since my introduction, I see them everywhere.

In case you are also one of those souls who is ignorant of the beauty of a Birria taco, they are essentially the taco version of a French dip. You start by making a rich and flavorful stew that you can eat as is. Or you can take the meat out, chop it up, fry up some tortillas, fill them with the chopped meat and some cheese, then grill them. To eat you dip the taco in the consume which is simply the broth from the stew and enjoy.

If you are wanting to try them yourself, I would first recommend doing a search for a local taqueria that makes them. Making your own is a bit of a process (as you might imagine) since they have to cook slow and low for a number of hours. Also, most recipes, like ours listed below, make enough for at least 8 people. If you are cool freezing some of it, then you are set. But, this might be better saved for a weekend get-together. The traditional meat used for this dish is goat. But, beef is just as popular. And, you can make Birria Tacos with lamb or pork if you want to be a rebel.

No matter which method you choose, I strongly encourage you to give these a try. Your mouth will be very happy you did…

Beef Birria Tacos
Recipe adapted from House of Yumm
Yields 8 servings Read more…

Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita PibilHome Plate
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting my sons’ baseball team for dinner. Twenty or so 16–18-year-olds invaded my kitchen…and mass hysteria ensued. Team dinners are a long-standing tradition that rotates from house to house each week. Since the dinner the week prior to my hosting the event served tri-tip, and the week after is going with a pasta feed, I had to come up with something that the boys would like, that I could make a lot of, and wouldn’t break the bank.

After much deliberation and a suggestion from one of my boys, we went with tacos.

Tacos are always a good idea. I have never met a person who didn’t like tacos. (Although I am sure there is someone somewhere.) I could have made things super easy and had the whole party catered. But, my inner Abuela wouldn’t allow it. That’s just not how I roll. To save at least some of my sanity I did order large amounts of beans, rice, and salsa from my favorite taqueria—as well as a mountain of freshly-made tortillas. As it turned out I didn’t order enough.

I did make all the fillings. There was Pollo Asada, Carne Asada, and last but not least, Cochinita Pibil which is similar to Carnitas—except that instead of cooking the pork shoulder in lard you slow-cook it in a marinade with achiote paste and citrus juice. Alas, I did not dig a hole in my backyard and cook it in banana leaves as is traditional. I figured that might be just one step too far.

The Cochinita Pibil was so good. It was very hard not to keep stealing some for a snack throughout the day because I was worried about having enough. And, it turns out I should have been worried (and perhaps afraid).

Twenty-two boys showed up at my house after practice that evening and consumed 12 pounds of Carne Asada, 10 pounds of Pollo Asada, 10 pounds of the Cochinita Pibil, 4 quarts of rice, 3 quarts of beans, and about a dozen avocados worth of guacamole. It was like a swarm of locusts blew through. There was nothing left except for a few sad tortillas. It was a staggering display of teenage calorie consumption. How they still had room for ice cream after is astonishing. One of my sons ate himself to the point of pain. So, I guess it was tasty. He rallied the next day to head off to school no worse for wear.

I am hosting the team again at the end of the month since I have two kids on the team. I’m not sure what to have yet. But, I am more prepared now. And, I understand that even though I may think I have enough, it’s a good idea to add a little more just in case…

Cochinita Pibil Recipe
Yields about 16 tacos
Recipe adapted from Tacolicious by Sara Deseran  Read more…

Tuna Burgers

Tuna BurgersCalifornia (Super Bowl) Love
I can’t decide if I am excited about the Super Bowl this weekend or not. The weather is going to be really nice. So, the idea of being outside is very appealing. Plus, I don’t really have a dog in the hunt. There are reasons to cheer for both teams since the 49ers didn’t make it. But, do I care enough to waste an 80-degree day?

The jury is still out. But, I am sure I will end up watching the game mostly for the halftime show, a few adult beverages, and the food…and because I have teenage boys.

Given the temps and the location of the game, I’m thinking margaritas and tacos for the game day nosh. But, you would never go wrong with wings and burgers. I even have the perfect burger. It’s a very “California” tuna burger that is just as satisfying as a beef burger.

The original Tuna Burgers recipe comes with an olive tapenade that is good. But, I like it better served with good quality tartar sauce or a lemon-herb aioli. Add your favorite chips or a salad on the side and you have a very LA feast. They would also be great as sliders.

Tuna Burgers Recipe
Adapted from Bobby Flay and the Food Network
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Black Bean Veggie BurgersConfessions of a Burger Junkie
I have a mental block when it comes to veggie burgers. It’s not that I have a problem with them per se, it’s just that I haven’t found one that I like. When I am craving a burger, I’m going for a legit burger. But, there are times when my family is on the burger train but I’m just not feeling it. Those are the times I go for something “other” and I am usually disappointed.

True, it’s easy to just have a turkey burger or a mushroom burger and I have been known to go that route with quite a bit of success. But, there is a part of me that wants to find a true veggie burger that I like. My issue is that in my mind I can’t get past the fact that I am not eating a ground beef burger. Eating a veggie burger, so far, hasn’t given me that same cheesy, juicy, fatty flavor that I love. And, yes, I get that it’s the cheesy fatty part that I should try to avoid for health reasons. Hence the search for a veggie burger.

I have tried the Beyond and Impossible products with great results but because of the amount of sodium in those options (it’s crazy) I don’t see them as a healthy alternative to the occasional classic burger.

My friends are very aware of my burger quest so I get a lot of recipes handed to me to try. Some are better than others. I am always on the lookout. So, if you are reading this and have a recipe you want to share, please post it in the Facebook comments and I will give it a shot.

In the meantime, the recipe below is the latest submission. I am planning to give it a shot this weekend as I have been told they are really flavorful and good. We’ll see…

Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Adapted from Sarah Britton and My New Roots 
Read more…