Ever since Los Angeles lifted the lockdown, my husband and I have been eating out as much as we can. We've made it a habit to try at least one new restaurant a week, making up for the past year. Not only is it fun, but it has also been a source of inspiration for me. Whenever I try something new, I want to recreate it. Last week, we tried birria tacos that were served with au jus. They were absolutely incredible. And so, I came home and whipped up my version. Here are my beef birria tacos with au jus and homemade tomatillo salsa!
Beef Birria Tacos with Au Jus
- 4 chilies de arbol
- 3 dried Guajillo chilies
- 2 dried Pasilla chilies
- 3 lb brisket
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoon coriander
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cinnamon stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup radish thinly sliced
- ¼ cup boiling water
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces tomatillos husk removed
- ½ red onion chopped
- 1 serrano chile chopped
- 1 garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 12 tortillas
- ⅓ cup cotija crumbled
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- lime wedges for serving
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place the dried chili de arbol, guajillo, and pasilla chilies in a heat safe bowl and add enough boiling water to cover the chilies. Place another bowl on top to keep the chilies submerged. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water and discard the stems and seeds. Set aside.
- Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the brisket and sear on all sides until deeply browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. In the same pan, add the chopped onion and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add back the brisket along with the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, chilies, and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and continue cooking the brisket in the oven for 2 ½ hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.
- Meanwhile, make the pickled radish. Stir the boiling water with vinegar, salt, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the liquid over the thinly sliced radish. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare the tomatillo salsa. Combine the tomatillos in a medium pot along with the red onion, serrano, garlic, cumin, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatillos have softened. Remove the salsa to a blender or food processor and add the cilantro. Pulse 5-7 times or until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
- Remove the brisket from the pot and shred the meat using two forks. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the ingredients but keeping the liquid. Skim as much as fat as you can from the broth. Keep warm.
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a saute pan. Lay 2-3 tortillas in the pan and place the shredded brisket on one side of the tortillas. Fold the tortilla over and keep a spatula on top to keep the tortillas folded. When the bottom is golden brown, flip over the tacos. Cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the excess oil on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and brisket.
- Top the tacos with cotija and cilantro. Serve with the tomatillo salsa, pickled radish, lime, and au jus for dipping.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
When I tried my first birria taco, I was intrigued by the au jus. It was my first time seeing tacos served with a dipping sauce. Judging by the slightly red color of the broth, I assumed that there were chilies in the broth. So I decided to add dried guajillo, pasilla, chili de arbol to the broth.
Since the chilies are dried, we want to rehydrate them in hot water for 30 minutes. Keep a bowl on top of the chilies to keep them submerged. Once they're soft, remove the stems and seeds.
While the chilies are softening, prepare the brisket. Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper, then sear it until browned. Take your time searing the meat since the caramelization helps incorporate more flavor.
Set aside the brisket and saute the onion until softened. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and spices, stirring to combine. Then, add back the brisket to the pot along with the rehydrated chilies and remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil, then continue braising the meat in the oven.
Brisket is a tough lean meat so it needs to cook slowly on low heat. This way, the muscles will break down and the hunk of meat will turn deliciously tender. It's a glorious thing.
While the brisket is braising, make the tomatillo salsa. Simply simmer the tomatillos with the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro. Once the tomatillo softens, transfer everything to a blender or food processor. Pulse the mixture with the fresh cilantro to get a chunky salsa. You don't want to blend it too much or the consistency will be too thin.
Feel free to make the tomatillo salsa several days in advance.
About 2 ½ hours to 3 hours later, the brisket should be ready. If the meat separates easily, it's ready. Remove the brisket from the broth and shred it. Strain the broth and skim as much of the fat as you can. Remember, the broth will be our dipping sauce so we don't want that layer of fat on top.
Now that the main component of the tacos is done, it's time to prepare the toppings. You can technically just make the tacos with the brisket and au jus. However, it's those little things like the cotija and lime juice that make the tacos extra special.
Heat up some corn tortillas on a pan with oil and lay the shredded brisket on one half of each tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and continue cooking the tortillas until they turn golden brown and crispy. Flip the tortilla over and crisp up the other side.
Top the birria tacos with crumbled cotija, cilantro, pickled radish, and tomatillo salsa.
Squeeze a little lime on the tacos and dip them into the au jus.
Let me tell you guys, these birria tacos with au jus were next level. The smell alone was torture but once I tried one...I was incredibly pleased with the results. I might even say, these are better than the ones I tried at the restaurant!
For more taco inspiration check out these breakfast tacos with charred scallion salsa!