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Birrieria Zaragoza is a family-owned restaurant with two locations in the Chicagoland area. The restaurant is located in the heart of Archer Heights near Mid-Way Airport in Chicago. This Birria shrine is owned by the Zaragoza family: John and 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 barbacoa, which was traditionally slow-cooked in a pit.
Originally, goat was wrapped in pencas de maguey, or agave leaves, set over a cooking unit in order to collect the drippings, buried in an underground pit where it steamed for hours over hot wood-fired rocks. 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.
Birrieria Zaragoza goes through approximately 22 young goats in a weekend, seasoning the meat with kosher salt before gently cooking it in a sealed steamer on a stovetop for five-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, an ancho-based mole is applied to the meat and then transferred in to an oven to roast, resulting in a wonderfully tasty oven-roasted birria.
The birria is accompanied with hand made corn tortillas, which are made on a wood tortilla press. The tortillas are an exquisite vehicle for the goat, lightly drizzled with the consommé and garnished with chile de arbol picante, onions, cilantro and lime and roasted arbol peppers.