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Birria de Cordero Recipe

Falling-off-the-bone lamb is stewed in a mixture of dried red chilies and Mexican spices. The final result is especially rewarding when eaten with a pile of tender corn tortillas and a cold, dark beer.
Birria de Cordero Recipe

Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 hours
Total time: 30 minutes


for the marinade:
2 ancho chilies
3 guajillo chilies
4 cascabel chilies
½ cup diced onion
⅓ cup|80 ml apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon cumin seeds
½ tablespoon dried oregano
10 whole peppercorns
5 garlic cloves
2 cloves

for the meat:
2 pounds|907 grams lamb shoulder
½ tablespoon kosher salt


for the salsa:
½ pound|227 grams tomatoes
¾ cup birria cooking broth
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the garnish:
½ cup diced onion
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges
corn tortillas, as an accompaniment


  1. Working with one chile at a time, use a paring knife to cut a slit all the way down each chile. Open up chilies and remove stems, veins, and seeds. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Flatten out the dried chiles and press down for a few seconds. Turn the chiles over until they are fragrant and start to darken, less than 30 seconds. Be careful not to toast or burn the chiles. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine chilies with the rest of the marinade ingredients and purée until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water. There should be enough sauce to cover the meat. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  3. In a deep Dutch oven, add meat and season with salt. Add marinade and stir until meat is completely covered. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350°F. Place Dutch oven in the oven and bake until meat is tender, about 4 to 5 hours.
  5. To make the salsa, cut tomatoes in half and take seeds out. Place tomatoes on a large skillet over medium heat until they start to blacken, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In a blender, combine tomatoes and some of the birria cooking broth and purée until smooth. Season with salt if necessary.
  6. Serve plenty of the birria meat with broth in individual bowls. Garnish with onion and cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve with corn tortillas and some of the sauce on the side.

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