What is Birria?

Chefpanzee Blog

photo credit to @fig.eats

photo credit to The Library of Congress

During the 16th century, the Spanish Conquistadors swept through Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America bringing with them animals and spices foreign to the land.  One of these animals, in particular, was the “chivo” (goat).  Already suffering the results of war, plunder, and new diseases, goats proved to be yet another major devastating factor to the local way of life.  Goats bred quickly and devastated crops, leading to famine. On top of that, goat meat is very gamey and tough.

To cull the goat population, locals would need to add them as a dietary staple.  Thus, in a town called Cocula near Lake Chapala in the state of Jalisco, the first birria maker (birriero) was born.  Using a mix of local and Spanish herbs and spices, birrieros would slow cook the goat in the ground or in kilns–thus removing the gamey taste and making the meat incredibly tender.

Birria quickly became a favorite breakfast or early lunch meal served at street stands and small hole-in-the-walls.  Today, birria can be made with goat, beef, lamb, pork or veal.  Strain the meat from the broth, slap some down on a tortilla, toss some chopped onions and cilantro on top, put the broth in a bowl for dipping and you have yourself one unique and unforgettable taco!

Check out this video of our Co-Founder, Indu enjoying some birria in Mexico City