Birria chuck tacos, smoke during the braise?

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ej0rge

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I've had good birria at one taqueria and not so great birria at a couple others. I guess that's what happens when something is suddenly in vogue.

I'd like to try it with some mesquite smoke, and since i have a pellet grill and some smoke tubes now, that should be doable.

I've decided to try Babish's recipe, here:


The main part of the cook is a 3-hour braise with all of the ingredients that will eventually become the shredded meat, the consomme, and the fat that the tacos get pan-fried in.

I have various kinds of pellets, chips, and chunks. Sadly my mesquite is chunks so the hatchet will have to come out to break it up small enough for the smoke tube. Unless the straight mesquite pellets i ordered from amazon get here in time, or i hit up a store . . .

I'm wondering if this would end up being overpowering smoke if it is for the whole braise - or maybe i should just smoke the chuck and oxtails for some time at a low temperature, and then put them in a braise without additional smoke from a smoke tube.
 

bauchjw

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I’m not telling you not to leave it uncovered during braising, I’m curious if it’ll work, but you are going to loose a lot of the braising liquid if you leave it uncovered to get smoke. If you cover for a braise you won’t get any smoke and can save your mesquite. I just did my first go at Birria:


I opted to smoke the beef Chuck, catching the drippings before placing them in the adobo braising sauce. I didn’t get as much smoke as I wanted, very little, or it was overwhelmed by everything. So, For my next go I’m going to follow TNJAKE TNJAKE smoking chuck for sandwiches, it was just reposted in another thread and a bell went off.


My next batch I’ll do the chuck longer at 250 to IT of about 160 or until looks right, then stick in the braising container to finish to pull at a higher temp. I’m really curious how yours goes, be sure to post after action!
 
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ej0rge

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I’m not telling you not to leave it uncovered during braising, I’m curious if it’ll work, but you are going to loose a lot of the braising liquid if you leave it uncovered to get smoke. If you cover for a braise you won’t get any smoke and can save your mesquite. I just did my first go at Birria:

Well, he braises uncovered in a conventional home oven in the video. Marginally more will be lost to convection if i braise in my GMG.

I'm concerned that maybe the whole roasting pan full of liquid and veg will maybe pick up too much smoke. I suppose i could also try only filling the smoke tube half full.
 

bauchjw

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I didn’t read that he left it uncovered, it says “Braise the beef at 350°F for 3 hours” I may be off, but to me Braising is using moisture to cook in a sealed container. I think he would use the term “roast” if it was uncovered. He does mention roasting “pan” but that is to brown the meat and veggies for more flavor prior to the braise.

I looked at a lot of different recipes for Birria, but no roasting version, many were double wrapped; banana leaves and foiled or foiled under Dutch oven lid with the purpose of keeping as much of the moisture in as possible for cooking and the resulting iconic consume.

But, If you go uncovered, please post results, I’m really curious.

As for the smoke if going uncovered, I’d start conservative. I don’t think it would be an issue, but Tastes are different. Good luck!
 

ej0rge

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I didn’t read that he left it uncovered, it says “Braise the beef at 350°F for 3 hours” I may be off, but to me Braising is using moisture to cook in a sealed container. I think he would use the term “roast” if it was uncovered. He does mention roasting “pan” but that is to brown the meat and veggies for more flavor prior to the braise.

I looked at a lot of different recipes for Birria, but no roasting version, many were double wrapped; banana leaves and foiled or foiled under Dutch oven lid with the purpose of keeping as much of the moisture in as possible for cooking and the resulting iconic consume.

But, If you go uncovered, please post results, I’m really curious.

As for the smoke going, uncovered, I’d start conservative.

Yeah, a roast where the meat is half-submerged in a water-based liquid with no lid is only semi braised? broasted? *shrug*
 

bauchjw

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🤣 Ok, it matters a bit, especially at 350. Sorry, trying to help, not being critical. Please let me know how it goes.

Edit: I just read an article on uncovered braising. I’d never heard of it, interesting.
 
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ej0rge

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🤣 Ok, it matters a bit, especially at 350. Sorry, trying to help, not being critical. Please let me know how it goes.

Edit: I just read an article on uncovered braising. I’d never heard of it, interesting.
No worries.

After trimming the chuck roast came to about 2.4lbs. About 2.2lbs of oxtails.

I decided to fill the smoke tube about 2/3rds full with a mix of small lumps (or large chips?) of mesquite and i think kingsford maple blend pellets.

I had to re-light it twice which is why it is not seen in this half-done progress pic.

These will be dinner tomorrow so i threw in some basque chorizo for tonight, to go along with some leftovers.

I should note that Babish is real loose with the water content for this recipe. When you're making the cooking liquid you add stuff to a blender and add "enough water to cover", and then after everything is in the roasting pan you add water until it is about half way up the side of the beef chunks.

I bought some swanson unsalted beef broth to possibly adulterate the consomme with if i decide i need to. Could also just water it back down if it is too concentrated.

20220626_180851.jpg
 
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bauchjw

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Looking awesome. Great call going a day out. The batch I made was better the next day. Looking forward to seeing the finish!
 

ej0rge

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You also have to refrigerate the consomme so that you can lift off the fat anyway.

That and i slept in real late.

Anyway. The trimmings were pretty much done after 2:15 in there, so i took them out and my smoked tallow is dripping through a coffee filter into a jar still.

at 3 hours almost all of the water was gone and only a little of the meat was ready. I tasted a scrap and it was really good, if certainly too spicy for some folk. I added a couple cups of water, turned all the meat, and came back a half hour later. Here's what i found:

20220626_204132.jpg

A substantial portion still isn't done, so adhering to the "it's done when it's done" philosophy I added a quart of water and set the timer for 30 minutes again. The consomme can always be reduced later.
 
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ej0rge

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Called it quits at the 4 hour mark, brought it inside and covered it with foil and will pull meat in like 45 minutes i guess.

Maybe if my smoke tube had stayed lit from the start, it would be reasonable to cover it with foil after a couple hours?

Probably should have added water at the 1:30 mark. The losses to convection are pretty considerable.
 

ej0rge

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Thoughts:

Babish does this recipe in a conventional home oven and turns the meat at 1:30. Since the losses to convection are greater in a pellet grill, also with the result that the caramelization on the exposed surface of the meat happens much faster, maybe turn the meat every hour, and top up the liquid with water. (Edit: By top up, I mean to halfway up the oxtails)

Maybe cook 325 instead of 350. Again, because of convection.

The little scrap I tasted was very good. Maybe too hot for some people. Certainly too hot for kids. I might replace 2 of the Guajillo peppers with an Ancho next time.

I know the flavors will develop overnight in the fridge so my reaction to the flavor of the consomme is premature, but it might be worth experimenting with punching up the richness by using unsalted beef or vegetable broth instead of straight water when assembling the wets before the braise.
 
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ej0rge

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The chuck all pulled easily with forks.

The oxtails did not. And they still have a fair bit of fat and gristle on them. The recipe calls for them to be roasted ahead of time and maybe i did not roast them long enough.

So I put them in with the consomme and i guess i will simmer them for a good long while tomorrow.

After adding a little consomme back to the meat (not more than about half a cup) it weighed in at 2.4 pounds.

I rendered about a cup of tallow out of the trimmings.
 

ej0rge

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Simmered the oxtails in the broth for about 3 hours today and they gave up the rest of what they had to offer. Story of my life - I shoulda done it earlier so i could chill it again and pull off the additional fat. I don't think i have a turkey baster or similar device for separating oil from water. Next post will be the finished product in a couple hours.
 

bauchjw

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Interesting experiment. I appreciate the info. I was curious how the “uncovered” braise would go. I still lost a considerable amount of moisture with it covered in foil. My next go im smoking the chuck to 160ish IT, then braising covered to finish.

How was your smoke flavor?
 

ej0rge

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Interesting experiment. I appreciate the info. I was curious how the “uncovered” braise would go. I still lost a considerable amount of moisture with it covered in foil. My next go im smoking the chuck to 160ish IT, then braising covered to finish.

How was your smoke flavor?


Yeah. The meat flavor of the broth is really forward despite how many times i added water. I was asked if i added MSG. The pint of swanson is unopened and will go into storage.

It ended up needing a little more salt which is always better than needing less.

The smoke flavor is good. Low to medium by my standards and not too much for normie foodies.

The heat is mostly back end and even the 9 year old girl was into it.

Most of the tacos got et before anyone thought to take a picture so here is a sincronizada.

20220627_193828.jpg
 

bauchjw

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Yes, they go fast! Sounds like a successful cook with some good learning points. The after action is appreciated. Looks delicious!

Edit: I was going to add that the first day we ate right after they were done. I didn’t refridgerate to skim fat off the top until leftovers, I just dipped the tortillas on top of consume where the fat was hanging out. I liked resting over night better, but works without it too.
 
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ej0rge

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Yes, they go fast! Sounds like a successful cook with some good learning points. The after action is appreciated. Looks delicious!

Edit: I was going to add that the first day we ate right after they were done. I didn’t refridgerate to skim fat off the top until leftovers, I just dipped the tortillas on top of consume where the fat was hanging out. I liked resting over night better, but works without it too.

Yeah that works.

Fwiw i think i would still add ancho to the mix of chilies.
 
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bauchjw

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Yes, I liked the ancho, Gualillo, and half the passila combination. I didn’t think it was too Spicy and, like you’d mentioned, the kids ate it so it can’t be that bad!
 
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