In Mexico, important celebrations call for Birria, eaten as a savory stew or stuffed into tortillas for tacos. Steam the meat on the stove (as is tradition), or make it in your slow cooker or Instant pot. It's a great example of simple, delicious food.
To make a sachet, lay a piece of cheesecloth on a flat surface. Add cloves, garlic, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Tie with kitchen twine. (To use ground spices, in a small bowl, whisk together ground cloves, garlic powder, cumin, and ground black pepper.)
Season beef liberally with salt on all sides (if using ground spices, rub the beef all over with the spice mixture). Fill the bottom of the pot with 1-2 inches of water and add steam insert. Set beef on steam insert and add sachet of spices.
Cover the pot and bring water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Steam the beef in the pot until tender and falling apart, about 4 to 5 hours. Check the pot occasionally, adding more water if necessary, to prevent the pot from burning.
Remove beef from the pot and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or other rimmed work surface. Pull apart the beef to shred the meat, separating and discarding any fat or gristle.
Transfer to shredded beef to a serving platter or bowl. Serve with tortillas, onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and Salsa de Birria, if desired.
Sachet: A sachet is a fancy term for herbs, spices, and garlic tied up in a piece of cheesecloth with twine. You could also use a tea ball or loose leaf tea bag to hold them. It makes it easier to pull these small ingredients out later.
Beef: Boneless beef chuck roast, short ribs, stew meet, oxtail, or beef cheeks work great here (or substitute a bone-in cut). In Mexico, it is common to use lamb or goat for Birria, too.
Yield: This recipe makes 4 servings, 1 cup (4 ounces) each. 2 1/2 pounds of beef chuck roast cooks down to 1 pound total (with some slight variations depending on how fatty the roast is and how meticulous you are about pulling out the fat).
Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Make ahead: Make this 1 day ahead for parties and reheat with a small amount of water in a pot or slow cooker until heated through.
Slow cooker: In the bottom of a slow cooker, add the meat, salt, spice sachet and water. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Pull apart the beef to shred the meat, separating and discarding any fat or gristle. To serve the Birria from the slow cooker, drain excess juice before adding back the shredded meat. Serve with tortillas, onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and Salsa de Birria, if desired.
Instant Pot: In the bottom of an Instant Pot, add the meat, salt, spice sachet and water. Cover, seal, and set to HIGH PRESSURE for 45 minutes. Let the pressure cooker release naturally before opening. Pull apart the beef to shred the meat, separating and discarding any fat or gristle. Serve with tortillas, onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and Salsa de Birria, if desired.