Last year, the birria taco craze reached the Bay Area and instantly became a super popular food item for all taco lovers. Birria taco trucks gained a huge cult following by advertising their juicy, gooey, and crispy quesitacos on Instagram and posting the time and location every day where they will be selling. People lined up for days to try these tasty shredded beef quesitacos. The kids and I checked out a local taco truck on a random weekday and did not get caught up in long lines. The quesitacos were super yummy and did not disappoint!
To me, quesitacos are like a hybrid corn tortilla quesadilla taco, stuffed with melted cheese and shredded beef. Quesitacos are extra unique because it is fried and crisped up on the griddle after the tortilla takes a dive into a pool of flavorful and fatty braising liquid. I love melted cheese and shredded beef, so quesitacos are perfect!
Besides the chilies used in the recipe, the spices, preparation, and taste of Birria are very similar to my Barbacoa recipe. Birria is traditionally made with goat, but this birria recipe is made with beef (because it’s available everywhere), slow-cooked in aromatic Mexican spices, for hours, until the connective tissue collagen breaks down into a rich velvety shredded beef. This will get your house warm and smelling super good! If you are not in the mood for tacos, the birria can also be enjoyed over steamed rice, and recently I’ve been seeing people pouring the birria and braising liquid over instant ramen noodles! However you decide to enjoy it, quesitacos are the bomb!
5 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
6 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
6 dried guajillo chilies
4 dried ancho chilies
1 white onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 white onion, finely diced
Marinate Beef – Remove the stems and seeds from dried chilies. Boil the chilies in a medium saucepan with 1-2 cups of water for 15-20 minutes until the chilies are re-hydrated. Add rehydrated chilies and liquid, garlic cloves, onions, cumin, salt, black pepper, ground cloves, Mexican oregano, ground cinnamon, diced tomatoes, and vinegar to a blender. Blend ingredients until smooth. Add more water as necessary to help with the blending process. Pour the marinade over beef. Add bay leaves and mix well. Allow meat to marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Roast Birria – Preheat oven to 300 degrees. While the oven is preheating, add marinaded beef to a dutch oven. Heat the dutch oven on the stovetop over high heat until liquid begins to boil, stirring meat occasionally. Add 5 more cups of water and mix well. Cover the dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven and roast the birria for at least 4 hours or until meat is fork-tender and pulls apart easily.
Shred Birria – Take the cooked beef out of the oven and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Transfer meat to a bowl or platter. With a fork or potato masher, shred the beef. Add the shredded beef back into the pot.
Make Quesitaco – Heat a greased cast iron skillet/griddle over medium heat. When the pan is hot, dip each corn tortilla in the hot braising liquid and place the soaked tortilla on the hot cast iron skillet/griddle. Place approximately 1 ounce of shredded Oaxaca cheese, 2 ounces of birria meat, a pinch of cilantro, and onions onto the tortilla. Cook the bottom of the tortilla for about 2 minutes then fold the tortilla in half. Continue to cook the tortilla on both sides, flipping every minute, until crispy. Place each quesitaco on a plate and add additional garnishes.
- If Oaxaca cheese is not available, Monterey jack, mozzarella cheese, or any other melty cheese works very well.
- Serve quesitacos with a small bowl of braising liquid for dipping!
- If beef chuck roast is unavailable, tri-tip, brisket, or beef cheeks work as well.