Birria (Mexican Goat)


Courtesy of Sally MacColl (
Serves 6 as a stew or 8 as tacos, with enough for some seconds


  • 6 pounds (2.7 kg) goat shoulder, bone in, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles
  • 4 dried chiles negro (dried Pasilla) or cascabel chiles
  • 1 dried chipotle chile
  • 12 garlic cloves, skin left on
  • 3 dried smoked tomatoes, optional (if you don’t have them, just omit)
  • 2/3 cup (180 ml) cider vinegar
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5ml) dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • Plus sour cream, radishes, avocado, onion, cilantro, tortillas or taco shells, optional for serving



  1. Cut the meat into 3 equal-sized portions. This will enable you to divide the meat into 3 large cooking pouches, but do not seal. Simply fold over the tops. You may have to cut a piece or two through the rib section. Rub all surfaces of the meat with the salt and pepper and set aside in the refrigerator.
  2. On a hot griddle or in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat, lightly toast one side of the dried chiles for a few minutes, or until they’re just softened. Turn and press down on the chiles with the back of a spatula to ensure all the surfaces are lightly seared. They will begin to release some of their aroma. Be careful not to burn the skins. Remove the chiles from the griddle and discard the stems and seeds. Transfer the chiles to a large bowl and set aside while you toast the garlic.
  3. Place the garlic cloves, skins intact, on the same griddle or pan. Gently brown all sides, turning often to prevent burning. The garlic will take longer than the chiles, but eventually will soften. When soft, remove the garlic from the pan and discard the skins and any root ends. Set the garlic aside.
  4. Add the smoked tomatoes, if you’re using them, to the bowl with the chiles. Cover with boiling water and, if necessary, weigh down the floating chiles with a smaller bowl. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, lightly pat dry with a paper towel, and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cider vinegar, toasted garlic, onion, and the remaining dried herbs and ground spices. Purée, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture becomes a paste.
  5. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and spread the paste on all sides of the meat. Divide the goat pieces evenly across the cooking pouches. Vacuum seal. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Remove the sealed pouches from the refrigerator and let the meat come to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
  6. When ready to cook, fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme to 142°F (61°C). (This temperature rendered the meat fork-tender and a perfect shade of pink.)
  7. Submerge the pouches and cook for 72 hours (yes, that’s 3 days).
  8. Remove and open the pouches and transfer the goat to a large cutting board, reserving the pouch juices. Tent the meat with foil until ready to serve.
  9. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.

To serve as stew: Leave the meat on the bone or debone and cut into bite-sized size chunks, transfer to individual serving bowls, and ladle the sauce over the meat. The extra meat (if there is any!) will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for 3 months.

To serve as tacos: Debone and shred the meat, then moisten with some of the reduced bag juices. Spoon onto hot tortillas or taco shells, nap with tomatillo salsa, and garnish with sour cream, sliced radishes, sliced avocado, grated cheese, or your favorite accompaniments.

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