Tacos de Cabeza is a Mexican recipe for a variety of tacos that are popular in Mexico City, Sonora, and the Bajío. It’s made from the shredded meat of a cow’s head, combined with toppings such as red or green salsa, chopped onions, and coriander. Because of the high-fat content in the meat, it’s extremely flavorful.
Tacos de Cabeza
Tacos de Cabeza
- 2 lbs beef cheek
- 3 dried guajillo chiles stems and seeds removed
- 1 dried cascabel chile stems and seeds removed
- 1 small white onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- black pepper
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- 3 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- Warm corn tortillas for serving
- Fresh cilantro for serving
- 1 ½ tomatillos charred
- 1 ½ cups fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 ½ serrano chiles with seeds
- 1 ½ jalapeños peppers with seeds charred
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 ½ garlic cloves peeled
- ½ cup roughly chopped scallions charred
- ½ cup natural rice vinegar not seasoned
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Tacos de Cabeza
- Blister the dried guajillo and cascabel chiles on a comal over medium heat, then submerge chiles in boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes to rehydrate.
- Season the beef cheek with salt and pepper evenly on both sides according to your taste and preference; set aside.
- In a blender or a food processor, combine the chiles with the garlic, oregano, cumin, and 2–3 tablespoons of the water. Purée until smooth, adding water as needed to give it a thick but pourable consistency. Transfer to a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Add the rest of the water, onion, and bay leaf to the chile mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling simmer over medium heat.
- Add the beef cheek to the pot, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook until meat is fork-tender, 1½–2 hours.
- When the meat is beginning to fall apart (but not mushy or dissolving), remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a clean bowl. Using two forks, shred into bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the remaining liquid to a light boil. Reduce until consistency has thickened slightly, and season to taste; add some of this braising liquid to the cheek meat just before serving for extra juiciness, or ladle into small bowls so guests can serve themselves.
- Serve immediately with warm tortillas, salsa, and cilantro.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the salsa in a blender or food processor and puree.
Did You Know?
Tacos de Cabeza (“head tacos”), is the meat from a roasted head of a cow or pig and served as a taco filling. Sometimes a specific part of the head is used and they include:
- Tacos de Cabeza is made from the muscles of the head.
- Tacos de Sesos is made from the brains of the head.
- Tacos de Lengua is made from the tongue of the head.
- Tacos de Cachete is made from the cheeks of the head.
- Tacos de Trompa is made from the lips of the head.
- Tacos de Ojo is made from the eye of the head.
These tacos are typically served in pairs, and also include salsa, onion, and cilantro (coriander leaf) with the occasional use of guacamole.
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