Goat Birria

Goat Birria

Birria is a heartwarming, deeply flavored stew hailing from the Mexican state of Jalisco — also home to tequila. The dish begins with marinating meat in adobo, a vinegar based liquid spiked with chilies, alliums, herbs, and spices. The resulting stew is often served by placing a ladleful of meat into a tortilla with a bowl of consomé (the cooking liquid) on the side. Like with any traditional technique dating back centuries, there are several ways to prepare birria.

We reached out to our friend Chef Sib Cheeseman — who spent years working as the chef of Gran Electrica, one of New York's top Mexican restaurants — to develop a recipe in celebration of goat with our resident chef, Nick Quesada. The Spanish brought goats to Mexico but were less than fond of them. They tended to destroy crops when left to their own devices and were relatively tough and gamey and they were given to the native population. The native peoples used their culinary expertise to make something magical out of something that was considered “birria” (junk, trash, worthless) by the Spaniards. The vinegar based adobo marinade worked wonders on these tough goats. Unlike the early goats brought to Mexico, our Shannon Creek Farm goats are tender and mild flavored but the shoulder does benefit from the slow and low cooking techniques found here in the Birria De Chivo.

“Birria is probably one of the most important dishes in my culinary vortex. I love all interpretations of Birria from 'De Res' to 'De Borrego' but primarily 'De Chivo.' Birria de Chivo is hands down the greatest of all time. That’s why I love when Goatober comes around. This year I was given the opportunity to share my favorite recipe with my rotten soldiers over at Heritage Foods. Hope you all enjoy making and eating this Birria as much as I have.” — Chef Sib Cheeseman


  • 5 pound goat shoulder
  • 4 guajillo peppers, deseeded 
  • 2 ancho peppers, deseeded
  • 4 pasilla de Oaxaca peppers, deseeded
  • Cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 cup of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoons whole allspice 
  • ½ nutmeg, grated
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (or Mexican canela if available)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano or marjoram (avoid Mediterranean oregano)
  • ¼ cup of mezcal
  • 4 plum or Roma tomatoes, or 2 cups of canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cone of piloncillo, grated (Mexican cane sugar) or  ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ bunch of epazote, roughly chopped, optional
  • Sherry vinegar to taste
  • Oil for searing
  • Optional garnish: diced white onion, chopped cilantro, and sliced radish


Soak deseeded peppers in hot water for 30-45 mins until soft, drain and save some of the soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, debone the goat shoulder and cut meat into large chunks, save the bones to roast for stock later or include in the Birria for added flavor to the consomé.

In a food processor, combine peppers, garlic, onion, cilantro, a large pinch of salt, and sherry vinegar and blend until smooth, adding some of the pepper soaking liquid as needed to thin.

In a gallon sized zip top bag or container with a lid, coat the goat with the pepper mixture (adobo) and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove excess marinade from the goat pieces and reserve. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, sear the goat pieces in batches in about 2 tablespoons oil until brown on all aside and set side. Save the rest of the marinade to add to the pot next.

Add the carrots, celery, and ginger and sweat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the rest of the marinade and spices (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, oregano, piloncillo) and cook for 2-3 minutes until the cooking oil turns red and very aromatic. 

Deglaze the pan with the mezcal, bring to a boil and reduce by half while scraping fond off the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes, and return the goat to the pot (including the bones if you saved them), cover with stock or water, bring to boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the goat is very tender. Add epazote.

Serve as birria tacos with diced white onion, chopped cilantro, and radish slices to garnish; tortas with the broth to dip on the side; or enjoy the consome alone as a stew.