I had some leftover birria (for recipe and story, please visit my previous post); an alternative way to serve birria, especially in restaurants or, as in my case, to use leftovers, is to make tacos with the meat, and doctor the sauce to serve as a broth on the side. This option would also cater to impressionable guests, who might not be ready to face a messy bowl with large bone-in pieces of meat. Of course, a fiery chile de árbol salsa is the perfect complement to this meal.
Spicy Chile de Arbol Salsa –
Salsa picante de chile de árbol
5-10 chiles de árbol, to taste
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-5 tomatoes; washed, dried, stem end removed and quartered
Salt, to taste
Chile de árbol is a small, thin, and very hot pepper, usually sold dry. Its hotness in Scoville units is between 15,000 and 30,000; as a reference, Jalapeño peppers are between 5,000 and 8,000 Scoville units. For this salsa, the general goal is to have a hot spicy flavour to add to food in small quantities, but I am including a range, rather than a fixed amount, for both hot peppers and tomatoes. Each cook may slide up and down on the hotness scale, from very hot to mild; the more peppers, the spicier the sauce (see note at the end of this post). The tomatoes tame the spiciness, contribute to the flavour, and define the texture of the salsa, so there is a range, to taste, as well; the more tomatoes, the less spicy, sweeter and juicier salsa. In addition, when the ingredients are processed, the oil in the blender will make the salsa creamy, but less so as the amount of tomatoes increases, due to that juice. I decided to go for the smallest amount of both peppers and tomatoes, to achieve a mild-medium spicy sauce with a creamy texture.
Place oil in a frying pan over medium heat; when hot, add chiles (stems removed) and garlic, stirring and turning until peppers look “bloated” and toasted, and the garlic has turned slightly golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve:
Process tomato quarters in the blender, then add reserved chiles, garlic and oil; season with salt to taste; process until smooth:
I poured the salsa in a serving bowl, and reserved at the table. Now, for the tacos and broth, I started with a container of cold birria out of the fridge:
I took the meat and bones out, removed and placed the bones in a pot, and shredded the meat. In a large frying pan, I re-heated the meat:
Meanwhile, the cold sauce from the birria went in the pot with the bones; I added enough water to cover the bones. Some tomato sauce or tomatoes processed in the blender may be added to the pot at this point; I blended one tomato in the same jar where I had processed the salsa, so I got a slightly orange mix:
I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer until serving time. Warm tortillas were filled with the pan-fried meat, then topped with chopped cilantro and onions; the tacos were served with a bowl of broth on the side, lime wedges and, of course, the reserved bowl of spicy salsa (also pictured at the top of the post):
The red salsa next to the bowl of birria from my previous post (pictured, right), was made with the same recipe as above, but using five tomatoes, for a milder taste:
Note about the spicy salsa: Some people use tomatillos instead of tomatoes for a different flavour and colour, or omit them all together for a “toxic hot” salsa. Another popular substitution in some Northern Mexican states, is the use of cascabel peppers instead of chile de árbol. I introduced cascabel peppers in my previous post, as an ingredient in my birria. Cascabel means “little bell”, name granted because of their size, their lantern-shaped roundness and the sound their seeds make when shaken, resembling the rattling of a bell.
I am bringing these tacos and “scary” fiery salsa to Fiesta Friday #247 hosted by Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week presenting Halloween treats (and much more!), with co-hosts Antonia @ Zoale.com (she embraces taste good/feel good food) and Laurena @ Life Diet Health (with plant-based recipes and tips for healthy living fun.)