Whereas traditional birria was a peasant dish born in the homes in the Mexican state of Jalisco centuries ago, quesabirria tacos were born on the streets of Tijuana, Mexico less than 20 years ago. Birria tacos had never been the staple at taco restaurants that they’ve become: It’s believed that street taco vendors and food trucks began making birria tacos around 2009, adding quesadilla cheese for an upcharge upon request. Around 2016 is when Tijuana taco vendors, “taqueros,” brought their cheese-smothered creations to Los Angeles—because it’s simply a fact that the best way to turn humble birria into a flavor party is by covering it in a bunch of melted cheese.
This is your official invitation to that party. We’re going to teach you how to make quesabirria at home.
I started brainstorming with artist Kevin Leary, fellow quesabirria junkie, about ways to create the ultimate topping for our heavenly creations. Traditionally, quesabirria tacos get topped with chopped onion, cilantro, and a kiss of lime, but if you want to take your quesabirria game to new heights, make some of our “Mexipoix,” the perfect topping for your quesabirria tacos. It cuts through the richness of the tacos and guaranteed to unlock special, never-before-experienced levels of flavor.
Whenever you cook birria, make sure you skim the fat off the top of the pot and save it. It’s a most flavorful alternative to cooking your quesabirria tacos with vegetable oil.
- 1/2 large white onion
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- Pickled jalapeno slices
- Coarse Salt
Finely chop onions, cilantro, and pickled jalapeno slices. Combine 2 parts onion and cilantro with 1 part jalapenos, then add the juice of 1 medium lime per every onion used. Salt to taste.
- 1 heaping cup of shredded birria, from our Stovetop Beef Birria Recipe
- ¼ cup birria fat skimmed off the pot (or use vegetable oil)
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1 cup shredded Mexican quesadilla cheese (Substitute with low-moisture, meltable cheese, such as Monterey Jack)
- Mexipoix garnish
- In a small bowl, set aside the heaping cup of shredded birria meat, making sure to add some of the birria broth so the meat isn’t dry. (Make sure the birria is at least warm before beginning this process.)
- Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet up to medium heat.
- Dip one side of each tortilla into the birria fat, then place the tortillas onto the hot pan, fat-side down.
- Let the tortillas begin to sizzle, then sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese to cover each tortilla. Next, evenly distribute about 1/4 cup meat over half of each tortilla.
- As the tortillas brown and the cheese starts to melt, fold each tortilla in half to cover the meat, pressing down gently.
- Flip the tacos as needed to avoid burning, cooking until crisp on both sides. (If you want added cheesiness, sprinkle some cheese onto the top of your taco and let it melt before removing from your pan.)
- Before you’re ready to bite into your tacos, slightly open them and add your Mexipoix garnish to each of them.
Welcome to the flavor party.