Recipe: birria de res by Dan Toombs

Versatile Mexican beef dish can be eaten as a stew or turned into birria tacos

A bowl of birria de res
Recipe from 'Curry Guy: One Pot' by Dan Toombs
(Image credit: Kris Kirkham)

Birria de res is an amazing Mexican beef dish, said Dan Toombs. It can be eaten as a stew, much like chilli con carne. However, it can also be turned into the famous birria tacos – made by dipping tortillas in the sauce, topping with some of the meat, and cheese, and then folding the tortillas up and frying them in oil. The effort is certainly worth it: birria tacos are some of the best out there.

Ingredients: serves 8

  • 2kg beef cheek or chuck, cut into large 10cm pieces 
  • 1½ tsp salt 
  • 6 dried guajillo peppers 
  • 6 dried ancho chillies 
  • 1 large onion, cut into about 8 pieces 
  • 8 garlic cloves 
  • 2 large tomatoes 
  • 2.5cm real cinnamon stick or 1-2 pinches of ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp marjoram 
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano 
  • 70ml cider vinegar 
  • 1 beef stock cube 
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil or light olive oil 
  • water, beef or chicken stock, as needed salt and pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes (all to taste)

  • chopped coriander 
  • pickled onions 
  • pickled jalapeño slices 
  • sour cream 
  • grated cheddar


  • Season the meat with the salt and set aside. Remove the stems from the chillies and tear them down the centre, removing the seeds. Place the chillies in a saucepan over a medium heat and toast them, turning regularly for about 3 mins, or until fragrant. Be very careful not to burn them, or it will make the stew bitter. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water for about 15 mins. 
  • Returning to the saucepan, add the chopped onion, garlic cloves and tomatoes and roast over a medium-high heat until fragrant and charred slightly on the exterior. This should take about 5 mins. Transfer to a blender to cool a little. 
  • Add the cinnamon, pepper, cumin, marjoram, oregano, vinegar, stock cube and the soaked chillies to the blender. Taste the water that the chillies were soaking in. If it is bitter, discard and add 125ml of fresh water to the blender. If it’s not, use that instead of fresh water. Blend until smooth. You can add more of the soaking water or fresh water if needed to help blend. Set aside. 
  • Pour the oil into your saucepan over a medium-high heat and fry the meat until lightly charred on the exterior. This will take about 10 mins. You don’t want to overcrowd your pan, so do this in batches if necessary. 
  • Pour the blended sauce over the top and add enough water or stock to cover. Bring to a rolling simmer and then reduce the heat, covering the pan and simmering lightly for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is really tender and shreds easily. You can always add more stock or water if necessary. 
  • Once the meat is good and tender, serve it up, topped with your garnishes of choice.

Recipe from "Curry Guy: One Pot – Over 150 Curries and Other Deliciously Spiced Recipes from Around the World" by Dan Toombs, published by Quadrille at £27. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £21.99 (incl. p&p), call 020-3176 3835 or visit

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