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After 4 hours unwatched.

Moist-cooked beef becomes birria

IN THE MOUNTAINS OF Zacatecas, a sheep-raising state in central Mexico, young lamb is traditionally used to make birria, a well-known stew of the area. But due in part to the accessibility of cattle raised on nearby plains, beef versions of the dish have also evolved. Fresh brisket, the base of this birria, takes especially well to moist, slow, and untended oven cooking with mild chilies, seeds and spices, vinegar, and onions.

Tear tender meat into shreds and serve in its own sauce. If you like, spoon birria into flour tortillas to make burritos.

Birria-style Brisket

4 dried California or New Mexico chilies, or 1/4 cup chili powder

2 small dried hot red chilies

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1/4 cup wine vinegar

6 cloves garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 piece (2 1/2 to 3 lb.) center-cut beef brisket, surface fat trimmed

4 large (about 1 3/4 lb. total) onions, thinly sliced

Fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs

Lime wedges

Sour cream

Warm flour tortillas (optional)

Remove and discard stems and seeds from California and hot chilies. Rinse chilies, then put in a 2- to 3-quart pan and add 1 quart water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand until softened, 45 minutes to 1 hour; drain. In a blender or food processor, whirl the chilies, wine, vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, and cinnamon until smoothly pureed.

Lay meat in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan; top with chili mixture and onions. Seal pan tightly with foil. If making ahead, chill up to 1 day.

Bake, covered, in a 350|degrees~ oven until brisket is very tender when pierced, about 4 hours. With 2 forks, shred meat; mix with onions and juices. (If making ahead, cover and chill up to 2 days. To reheat, cover and bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until hot, about 45 minutes.) Serve meat with cilantro, lime, and sour cream to add to taste; roll mixture in tortillas, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Per serving: 281 cal. (35 percent from fat); 32 g protein; 11 g fat (3.6 g sat.); 13 g carbo.; 118 mg sodium; 87 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:includes recipe
Author:Weber, Christine B.
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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