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Smoked Birria Quesataco


  • Author: Rico "Uncle Chico" Gubernick

Ingredients

Scale

For the Adobo:

  • 6 guajillo chiles
  • 3 ancho/pasilla chiles
  • 2 cascabel chiles
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo.

Meat seasoning:

  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon ( Mexican canela preferred)

Meat:

  • 2 lbs bone-in cross cut beef shank
  • 2 lbs bone-in short ribs
  • 2 lbs boneless leg of lamb
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Modelo Negro beer
  • 1 white onion peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 garlic cloves peeled and finely diced

Garnish for tacos:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups queso Chihuaha or queso Oaxaca, shredded on grater
  • 1 half cabbage
  • Lime wedges to squeeze on tacos

Instructions

Prepare the adobo:

  1. Begin by removing the stems of the chiles, removing the seeds and splitting them open.  Lightly toast them on each side on a griddle or pan over moderate heat making sure not to burn them.  May be 10 seconds on each side.
  2. Rehydrate chiles by covering them with hot water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften them removing them and adding them with the vinegar to the blender to make your paste.

Mix the rub for the meat:

Add dried herbs in a small mixing bowl until well combined. Season the meat with the rub mixture

Marinate Meat:

Utilizing half of the paste spread the meat with the paste and cover with plastic in the fridge overnight if possible. The longer the better as the marinade will help flavor the meat; I believe this is a key component.

Cook meat:

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 450 degrees and get wood chunks to begin smoking.  I prefer Mesquite as it’s native to Mexico and cherry for the color and hint of sweetness but any wood will work.  If you are not using smoke, then just preheat grill or oven.
  2. Using a heavy Dutch oven, add 2 tbsp. high heat oil like avocado or grape seed oil and sear each side of meat making sure a good crust is developed.
  3. Adjust grill temperature to about 350 degrees and remove meat.  Add a small rack so the meat can be elevated above the liquid that will be added.
  4. Add water, beer, onions, bay leaves, garlic, and remaining adobo paste.
  5. Cook first hour uncovered then cover with lid for 3 more hours.

Preparing Consommé:

  1. Remove the cooked meat to chop to wanted consistency. I like mine roughly chopped to maintain some texture.
  2. Remove the bay leaves and add 2 cups water or beef broth to make extra consommé for dipping.
  3. With an immersion or blender blend in batches to make smooth.

Preparing the Quesataco:

  1. Preheat griddle or flat top on medium to high heat.
  2. I add one tortilla fully dipped in consommé and add it to the flat top. A second tortilla is added on top without being dipped.  This will help the taco stay together and maintain its structure.
  3. A small handful of cheese is melted separately, and when fully melted, carefully scoop up with a spatula and place on top of the tortilla.
  4. The meat is generously added then a small ladle of consommé is poured on top of the meat.  I like to fold mine in half like a quesadilla and get it toasty on both sides.

The finishing touches:

Open the taco and add onions and cilantro and a big squeeze of lime.  I also like to add cabbage for extra crunch and freshness.

Notes

Pro tip: If you can, spread the paste over the meat and leave in the refrigerator overnight. It will help flavor the meat!

doneness of steak

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