Like all great recipes full of flavor with a deep intensity, it takes hours to make a simple bowl of birria, a Mexican stew. One of the best places to find the Mexican staple is at Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, in Pilsen.
"Birria is a family platter that you sit with your family and eat; it's goat meat with its stew and you accompany with onion and cilantro. It just makes you feel like back home, where my parents are from, Ocotlan Jalisco," said Karina Reyes, owner of Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan.
They start by boiling several goats for several hours, along with onions and spices. The meat is removed to a tray, and then the resulting broth is poured through a strainer, to keep out any extraneous pieces. It must then be skimmed of most of the fat.
The next phase begins with cooked tomatoes, which have to be blended. The tomato puree goes into that strained and skimmed broth, and everything is mixed well to incorporate the flavors.
Then they add in some olores to the broth - it's essentially the secret weapon - full of garlic, cumin and other secret spices. Finally, adobo, which is loaded with roasted ancho chiles, gives the broth a bit of heat and even more body.
When an order comes in, the soft, pliable goat meat must first be chopped-up. The meat goes into a bowl, followed by a generous ladle of the fully-seasoned broth. Additional options include freshly-chopped white onions and cilantro, plus a lime wedge. Sides of pickled vegetables and dried chiles are there at your disposal.
"During the summer it's hot and you could have people sweating; they're faithful, they come and eat," said Reyes. "It's perfect for the winter. Perfect for the winter."
The birria comes in two sizes - a chico, or small, for $6.50; or a grande, or large, for $1 more. The stew also comes with tortillas.
Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan also sells birria by the pound in case you want to keep not only your family, but all the extended relatives happy and warm and satisfied this winter.
Birrieria Reyes De Ocotlan
1322 W. 18th St.
4852 S Pulaski Rd