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Beef Birria

Sunday, February 14, 2010

4 dried California chiles
1 pound roma tomatoes
½ onion
2 cloves garlic
1-½ pounds beef stew meat, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 inch stick cinnamon
6 black peppercorns
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Lightly coat a heavy griddle with oil and heat over medium high heat.

Place the chiles on the griddle and roast for a minute or two, until fragrant but not browned. Place the chiles in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand until soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the tomatoes, onion and peeled garlic cloves on the griddle until spotted with brown. Remove from the griddle. Pull off any loose skin from the tomatoes.

Drain the softened chiles, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid. Remove the stems. Open the chiles and rinse to remove the seeds.

Combine the chiles, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender container and blend until smooth. Pour into a sieve set over a bowl. Rinse out the blender with ¼ cup reserved soaking liquid and add to the sieve. Puree the mixture through the sieve, discarding the solids that remain.

Place the beef in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Pour into a colander and rinse well. Return the meat to the cleaned pan.

Pour the chile puree into the saucepan. Rinse out the bowl with the remaining chile soaking liquid and add to the beef along with 1 cup water.

Add the vinegar, bay leaves, marjoram, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, beef bouillon cubes and salt.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook at a gentle simmer, loosely covered, 3 hours. If the heat is low enough, it should not be necessary to add more water.

Take out the meat, place on a cutting board and shred, using two forks or a fork and a sharp knife. Return to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, mixing with the sauce.

Eat as a main dish with rice, or use as taco filling. For tacos, place the meat on top of hot, soft corn tortillas and top with chopped onion and cilantro, then fold and eat. The beef is not spicy, so accompany the tacos with hot salsa to add as desired.

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