Brooke Williamson Beef Birria Tacos

Braised, shredded short ribs tucked inside crispy tortilla shells and topped with pickled cabbage slaw.


  • 4 pounds bone-in Beef Short Ribs, trimmed

Pepper Paste: 

  • 4 dried Guajillo chile peppers
  • 4 dried Chile de Arbol peppers
  • hot water
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Birria Mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Achiote paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Pickled Slaw:

  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or high-sided cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the guajillo and chile de arbol peppers to the pan. Toast, turning occasionally until fragrant and charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; cover with hot water. Weigh peppers down with a heavy plate (to keep them submerged in hot water).
  2. Place yellow onion and garlic cloves into same dry pan; increase heat to high. Cook onion and garlic until charred on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes (resist urge to turn onion, so they get charred. Pay attention to garlic cloves). Remove the garlic cloves; cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from garlic. Remove pan from heat. Add charred onions to bowl with garlic cloves.
  3. Remove stems, inner ribs and seeds from rehydrated peppers, reserving liquid for blending. Place charred onion, garlic cloves, and rehydrated peppers into blender. Pulse, adding reserved liquid as needed until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  4. Coat Dutch oven or high-sided cast iron pan with oil; heat over high heat. Pat short ribs dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper. Sear short ribs, turning occasional, until all sides are deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove short ribs; reduce heat to medium-low. 
  5. Deglaze pan with beef stock; stir in pureed chili mixture and crushed tomatoes. Return short ribs to pan; bring to a simmer.  Add achiote paste, bay leaf, oregano, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer until tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
  6. Remove short ribs from liquid; cool. Shred meat and discard bones. Return shredded meat to liquid, chill overnight.
  7. In a medium saucepan, heat apple cider vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Whisk until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour over cabbage. Let cool.
  8. Remove fat from top of cooled birria mixture, reserve. Heat mixture over medium heat until warmed, about 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, drain pickled cabbage. Combine with red onion and radish.
  10. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. Using reserved beef fat, coat bottom of skillet. Sprinkle a thin layer of Monterey cheese into skillet. Top with corn tortilla and second thin layer of cheese. When bottom layer of cheese is golden brown and crispy, remove from the pan. Fill cheesy tortilla with warmed birria meat. 
  11. Top with pickled cabbage slaw, cilantro and red onion. Serve broth with tacos. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.


Nutrition information per serving, 4 servings: 807 Calories; 41.0 g Total Fat (20.0 g Saturated Fat; 0.2 g Trans Fat; 1.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat; 14.5 g Monounsaturated Fat); 159.0 mg Cholesterol; 2582 mg Sodium; 49 g Total Carbohydrate; 7.0 g Dietary Fiber; 15.6 g Total Sugars; 4.7 g Added Sugars; 61.0 g Protein; 579.0 mg Calcium; 8.7 mg Iron; 1409.0 mg Potassium; 0.7 mcg Vitamin D; 0.8 mg Riboflavin; 14.6 mg Niacin; 0.8 mg Vitamin B6; 4.5 mcg Vitamin B12; 670.0 mg Phosphorus; 11.8 mg Zinc; 38.7 mcg Selenium; 180.1 mg Choline

Beef Subs
Chef Brooke Williamson