Origin: Mexican, North American
Method: Dutch Oven, Stovetop or GrillJump to Recipe
During our search for the best tacos in Kansas City, we fell in love with quesabirria. Our favorite versions of this trendy taco were those made with lamb or goat. Even for those that do not typically care for lamb, like my wife, agreed that the lamb birria stood out from the rest, and when my daughter began requesting to drink the birria consomé I knew it was something I had to make at home.
What is Birria?
Birria is a hearty meat stew originating from the Mexican state of Jalisco. Originally the dish was made with goat, but over time lamb has become increasingly common. In the United States, beef birria has become common, though in Mexico you are more likely to find, lamb, goat, or mutton used. Authentic birria recipes will call for marinating the meat with a paste of vinegar, chilis, and seasonings overnight or longer, before slowly cooking the meat until tender.
How to Make Lamb Birria in a Dutch Oven
Authentic Jalisco style birria is packed with flavor and the list of ingredients is fairly extensive, but most are pretty common ingredients or easy to find. Other than sourcing the lamb, quality chili peppers are the biggest key to making the best birria. You will also need vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, tomato, and a variety of seasonings and spices.
Grill the onions and lamb chops
While it adds an extra step, our favorite way to start the lamb birria is by briefly grilling the lamb chops and onion. Browning the meat gives the birria another layer of flavor that we find is hard to beat. If you are planning to cook the birria in a Dutch Oven indoors, you can brown the lamb chops and onion with a little oil in the Dutch Oven or pan.
Once the lamb chops are nicely browned (but not cooked though), remove them from the grill or pan. Remove the onion from the grill or pan and place in a food processor.
Love lamb? Check out our South African Sosaties: Lamb and Apricot Kebabs and Korean Style Beef and Lamb Lettuce Wraps.
Prepare the Marinade for the Dutch Oven Lamb Birria
The first step in making the authentic birria recipe is to prepare your birria marinade. This flavorful marinade will ensure that your lamb birria is packed with flavor.
What chilis are used in authentic birria?
Traditionally ancho and guajillo chilis are the most commonly used chilis for flavoring birria. Other chilis such as de arbol and pasilla may also be used. We typically use dried chilis as they are the most easily sourced.
Toast the chilis and garlic
In a heavy bottomed pan, or your Dutch oven, toast the dried chilis and garlic over medium-high heat. You want to toast until they are pliable and fragrant, but do not allow them to burn. This helps the chilis release more of their fantastic flavor.
Rehydrate the chilis for the birria marinade
Next, rehydrate the chilis by placing them in a bowl with about 3 cups of very hot water. Allow to soak for about 30 minutes. Remove the toasted garlic from the pan and place in the food processor with the onion. Add the minced ginger and pulse until the veggies are finely diced.
After about 30 minutes, remove the chilis from the hot water and remove as many of the seeds and stems as possible. Place the rehydrated chili peppers in the food processor along with about ½ cup of the water the chilis soaked in. Reserve the rest of the water.
Blend until smooth, scraping the sides as needed to ensure the chilis are chopped as small as possible. Next, add in the tomatoes, spices, seasonings (except for the bay leaves), and vinegar. Process until well blended.
Place the browned lamb chops, cubed lamb and bay leaves in a large bowl and cover in the birria marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Making birria on your grill or smoker
Preheat your grill or smoker to 250-300 degrees and set up for indirect heat. Allow the Dutch oven to preheat in the smoker. We made the Dutch oven birria recipe on our Big Green Egg, but the lamb birria can also be made on a pellet smoker like a Traeger or Yoder. Once the grill or smoker has come to temp, place the meat, along with the marinade in the cast iron Dutch oven. Stir in the 2 cups of the beef broth or just enough to fully cover all of the meat.
Cook the authentic lamb birria on your grill or smoker, uncovered for about 2 hours. After 2 hours, add some addition beef broth if needed to cover the meat. Cover the Dutch oven and continue cooking until the lamb meat is tender, about 1-2 more hours.
How to Serve Lamb Birria
Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and Bay leaves from the Dutch oven and place in a bowl. Discard the Bay leaves and shed the lamb, removing the meat from the bones of the lamb chops. Skim the fat from the birria and reserve.
At this point you have a couple of options, you can serve the lamb birria as a hearty stew, or you can jump on the quesabirria bandwagon.
Serving Dutch Oven Lamb Birria as a stew
To serve lamb birria as a stew, simply place some of the meat in a bowl and pour in the birria consomé. Top the birria with diced onions and cilantro, if desired. This lamb birria stew is our favorite way and the most authentic way to enjoy this dish.
You can adjust the consistency of the lamb birria consomé by cooking down the consomé a little if you desire a thicker consistency or adding in a little more beef broth if you need a thinner consistency.
Serve your Dutch Oven Lamb Birria with a side of Charro Beans With Hickory Smoked Bacon, fresh guacamole, and a couple glasses of Mango Habanero Margaritas or a Mezcal Paloma.
Making lamb birria tacos
To make Jalisco style lamb birria tacos con consomé, you will want to place the skimmed fat from the Dutch Oven Lamb Birria in a skillet. At this point follow our directions for our Brisket Quesabirria Tacos to make the lamb birria tacos. If needed, thin the consomé de birria with a little more beef broth and stir in some diced onions and cilantro.
For more great Dutch oven recipes, be sure to check out some of our favorites:
- Texas Red Chili with Smoked Chuck Roast
- Cochinita Pibil on your Grill or Smoker
- Beer Braised Beef Cheek Barbacoa
- Brazilian Feijoada: Meat and Black Bean Stew
- Over the Top Smoked Mississippi Pot Roast
- Hatch Chile Verde
Thanks again for visiting Carne Diem. If you tried and enjoyed our recipe, please share with others. Also don’t forget to tag us @Carne_Diem_Culinary or #CarneDiemBlog, we love to see your pics! To be notified of future recipes please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or sign up for our e-mail notifications.
Dutch Oven Lamb Birria
- Dutch Oven
- 2 pounds Cubed Lamb
- 2 pounds Lamb Chops
- 5 Dried Guajillo Chilis
- 3 Dried Ancho Chilis
- 4 Dried Chili de Arbol Chilis
- 3 Tomatoes quartered
- 1 White Onion quartered
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1 inch Ginger sliced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- ¼ Cup White Vinegar
- 3 Cups Water
- 4 Cups Beef Broth divided
- ½ Cup Chopped Cilantro for topping
- ½ Cup Diced White Onion for Topping
- 1 teaspoons Oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Allspice
- ¼ teaspoon Marjoram
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 3 Whole Cloves
- In a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven, toast the dried chilis and garlic over medium-high heat. You want to toast until they are pliable and fragrant, but do not allow them to burn.
- Remove the browned garlic to a food processor. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and then place the toasted chili peppers in a bowl with 3 cups of very hot water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes, then remove and place the chilis in the food processor. Reserve the water.
- Add a little oil to the Dutch oven and brown the lamb chops, cubed lamb, and onions. Cook until just browned but not cooked through, then remove the lamb to a bowl. Place the onion in the food processor with the garlic and chili peppers.
- Add about ½ cup of the water the chilis were soaked in and the ginger to the food processor, and blend until smooth.
- Next, add in the tomatoes, spices, vinegar, and seasonings (except for the bay leaves). Process until well blended.
- Place the lamb in a large bowl with a lid and cover with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- When you are ready to cook, preheat your grill or smoker to 250-300 degrees and set up for indirect heat. If cooking indoors, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Allow the Dutch oven to preheat in the smoker or oven.
- Add the lamb, along with the marinade to the Dutch oven along with about 2 cups of the beef broth. Cook uncovered for 2 hours, stirring about every 30 minutes.
- Next add about 1 more cup of the beef broth and place the lid on the Dutch oven. Cook until the lamb is very tender, and the meat pulls off easily from the bones. This typically takes an additional 1-2 hours.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and Bay leaves from the Dutch oven and place in a bowl. Discard the Bay leaves and shed the lamb, removing the meat from the bones of the lamb chops. Skim the fat from the birria and reserve.
- To serve lamb birria as a stew, simply place some of the meat in a bowl and pour in the birria consomé. If desired, top the birria with diced onions and cilantro. You can adjust the consistency of the lamb birria consomé by cooking down the consomé a little if you desire a thicker consistency or adding in a little more beef broth if you need a thinner consistency.
- Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve warm.
Leave a Reply