Birrieria Zaragoza - Chicago
Zaragoza Restaurant is a small family owned Birrieria. Owned by the Zaragoza family: John, Norma and their children: Jonathan, Andie, Tony and Erik . Owner, John (Juan) Zaragoza learned to make birria from a master birriero, Miguel Segura, who runs the famous Birrieria Miguel in the Mercadito in John's native town of La Barca, Jalisco. Birria is a regional Jalisciense variant of the more widespread barbacoa, meat traditionally slow-cooked in a pit. Originally goat was wrapped in pencas de maguey, or agave leaves, set over a vessel to collect the drippings, and buried in an underground pit where it steamed for hours over hot wood-fired rocks, absorbing the essence of the leaves. When finished the meat was portioned and served either added to a consommé made with the drippings or seca ("dry") with the consommé on the side. These days ovens have replaced the pits. Zaragoza's goes through approximately 10-12 young goats in a weekend, seasoning the meat with kosher salt before gently cooking it in a sealed steamer on a stovetop for up to six hours. Unlike most birrieros, they make their consommé, which is tomato-based, without drippings from the meat. It's a method John learned by videotaping Segura's wife, and it results in a clean broth without the fat. After steaming, they lightly apply an ancho-based mole to the meat and transfer in to an oven to braise, resulting in a wonderfully tasty oven-braise/roasted birria. The birria is accompanied with hand made tortillas which are made on a mesquite wood press John brought back from La Barca. The tortillas are an exquisite vehicle for the goat, lightly drizzled with the consommé and garnished with picante, onions, cilantro and lime and roasted arbol peppers.