Thomasina Miers cooks a traditional Mexican celebration dish of spicy beef stew with ancho chillies, served with a zingy salsa
By Thomasina Miers
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus marinating overnight
  • Effort: easy


For the marinade

  • 4 ancho chillies
  • 200 ml cider vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the stew

  • 1.2 kg beef shin
  • 500 ml water
  • 750 ml medium-bodied red wine
  • 400 g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 600 g floury potatoes, cut into large pieces

For the birria salsa

  • 20 g small chilli de arbol
  • 100 ml cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp peppercorns
  • sea salt

To serve

  • 1/2 white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small bunches radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small handfuls coriander, chopped
  • 3 limes, quartered


1. For the marinade remove the stems of the ancho chillies, then place the chillies into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until soft.

2. Place the remaining marinade ingredients into a food processor except the olive oil and blend to a purée. Add the chillies and their water and the olive oil and pulse until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.

3. For the stew: place the beef shin into the bowl of marinade and rub well to coat. Cover with cling film and place into the fridge to marinate overnight.

4. Fill a large pan with the water, then add the wine and the tomatoes.

5. Place the shin into the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is tender.

6. An hour before the beef is done, add the potatoes to cook through.

7. For the birria salsa: place the chillies in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened, then blend with all of the remaining salsa ingredients in a food processor.

8. To serve, spoon the stew into serving bowls and serve with the salad ingredients sprinkled on top of each bowl, topped with the salsa.

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