By Suzyo Changa

Last August I booked a trip to Mexico City. I immediately fell in love with the culture, people and of course the food. I ventured out to a few other states to experience the beautiful country. One of my favorite places I visited was Jalisco, the birthplace of birria. The spices recreates my experience in Mexico, from the smell and the robust flavors that can be created in your kitchen!

Birria (Serves 8)


4 pounds boneless lamb or goat meat
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Ancho chiles
6 Guajillo chiles
4 cups whole roasted tomatoes
4 whole cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon marjoram
1⁄2 medium-size white onion, sliced
1- in of stick of Ceylon cinnamon
1⁄2 cup white vinegar
Salt to taste

For the garnish:
2/3 cup chopped cilantro or 1/4 cup of dried oregano
2/3 cup chopped white onion
Lime wedges

Season the meat with salt and pepper, then place in a large baking dish.
Clean and devein the peppers. Slightly toast them over a medium heat, making sure you do not burn them to avoid bitterness. Soak peppers in a cup of hot water for 20 minutes.

Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat. Toast the whole cloves, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns for about 30 seconds. Place them in your blender along with the roasted tomatoes, herbs, onion, cinnamon and the vinegar.

Once the chiles are soft, drain them, add to the blender and puree until you have a smooth sauce. If your blender is having a hard time processing it, add a few tablespoons of water or broth. Season the sauce with salt.

Pour the sauce over the meat, making sure it is covered all over with the salsa. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours to allow all the meat to absorb the flavors.

Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the meat in the baking dish covered with the aluminum foil for about 4 hours or until it is fork-tender.

Slow cooking is also an option: cook the meat and sauce for 6-8 hours on high or 24 hours on low.

Serve the warm meat with its broth in bowls and garnish with chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with warm tortillas and a hot salsa.


Stove top- Make the sauce as instructed above. Place meat in a large dutch oven or large pot and pour sauce over meat. Cover with lid and set on low heat. Cook for 1 hour. Check meat for tenderness. If meat needs additional time, add 1/4 cup chicken broth or water to avoid burning the bottom of the dutch oven or pot. Cook for an additional 20 mins or until fork tender. 

Pressure cooker- Set on sautè setting, add oil. Season meat with salt and pepper. Sear meat on all sides. Remove the meat and add sauce. Place the meat back in the pressure cooker. Cook for 1 hour on MED setting. (I set it first for 1 hour and check tenderness. If still tough in the middle add an additional 1/4 cup of water to avoid burning as sauce is thick, cook for an additional 30 mins in the pressure cooker.) Let the pressure cooker release naturally once done. 

About Suzyo Changa:
Suzyo Changa headshotI am Chef Suzyo and I work as a Private Chef and Caterer in the Bay Area. I graduated from California Culinary Academy and soon after worked in fine dining which helped hone my skills and experience leading to other work where I grew as a cook as well as my knowledge of food, and of course my palate! 
As a Zambian born, I am familiar with bold flavors and traditional dishes that have a story to tell. I enjoy fusing different African foods with other cuisines I love to cook: Asian, Latin and French to name a few. Over the years I developed a passion for traveling which opened me to new culinary adventures while being a student and learning different cooking techniques, food agriculture and traditional dishes. I always come back feeling inspired by the flavors and spices, reminding me why I love been a Chef while continuing to master my skills and explore new flavors!

4 Responses

Joe Decker
Joe Decker

November 03, 2020

Made it tonight (using lamb and the pressure cooker option) and this was just amazing. Thank you!

Paula Iborra
Paula Iborra

October 20, 2020

This looks amazing! Will definitely attempt to make this soon.


October 20, 2020

Wow, Suzy! Just the recipe is mouth watering. Can’t wait to try! Thanks

Katherine Benouar
Katherine Benouar

October 20, 2020

This story from Chef Suzyo is delightful and this recipe sounds so delicious! Thank you for sharing this bright spot today! KatieB

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Recipes

Madras Curry Chocolate Cake
Madras Curry Chocolate Cake

This cake was inspired by the Italian dessert, torta caprese (flourless chocolate cake). The recipe yields a small, semi-thin cake that's decadent, silky, and moist. A little slice goes a long way! The Madras Curry Powder adds an edge that is slightly spicy, bringing a depth to the cake beyond the chocolate. 

Continue Reading

Pomegranate Chicken
Pomegranate Chicken


Partially inspired by Bay Area institution La Mediterranee, this pomegranate chicken recipe is the perfect sweet-savory weeknight meal. 

Continue Reading

Ground Lamb Noodles
Ground Lamb Noodles

This ground lamb noodle dish combines the flavors of the Northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang with saucy, nutty noodles. 

Continue Reading