Arizona families enjoy spicy Mexican birria during the holidays

PHOENIX – A traditional American holiday dinner usually includes ham or turkey, but this time of year some Arizona families also enjoy birria, a meat dish from Mexico.

“Birria, is a very traditional dish in the Mexican community and we include it in our celebrations and holidays,” said Efrain Gaytan, owner of Birrieria Obregon, a Mexican food restaurant in Phoenix.

Birria is originally from the state Jalisco and is made out of goat meat seasoned with chilies other spices. In other regions of Mexico Birria is made with lamb or beef. The meat is cooked slowly in a pit; a process can take up to 12 hours.

In Phoenix restaurants, birria is stewed in a giant pot for up to three hours. Gaytan said the secret to great birria is “the combination of spices, time and the love you put into making it.”

Many people don’t have time to cook birria at home because of busy work schedules, so during the hectic holiday season they order it to go. For customers it’s a comfort food that reminds them of home.

“I don’t know how to make it. I have relatives who make a very delicious birria, so it’s something I’ve grown up eating my entire life, ” said Carlos Garcia, a customer.

Luis Monive, a Gilbert resident, has been coming to Birria Obregon for a decade.

“My body craves the dish,” Monive said.