Venison Birria

A recipe featured in the Outdoor News Taste of the Wild

Birria is a Mexican dish from the state of Jalisco. The dish is a spicy stew, traditionally made from goat meat. However this version is a recipe adapted by Chef Ara Zada with an optional slowcooker method.

Ara’s recipe suggests serving this as stew garnished with diced onions, cilantro, dried oregano, red chili flakes and a squeeze of lime if you like. It can also be used as a taco filling.


6 lbs. Mule Deer Leg (or you can use whitetail deer, elk, or ram leg meat)

3 Guajillo chili, dried

3 New Mexico chili, dried

1 cup water

2 teaspoon oregano, dried

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon coriander, ground

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 whole cloves

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

6 garlic cloves

1 quart beef stock

3 bay leaves

Additional salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking



Cut the deer leg into 2” chunks.

Take off the stems of the dried chilies and pour out all the seeds. You may need to shake them a bit to get them all out.

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, toast the dried chilies turning them constantly. Be carful not to burn them because they will get bitter. If you burn them discard them and start over. Once they are toasted pour the cup of water over them so they are submerged and bring the water to a simmer. Turn the heat off and let them soak for 15 min. or until they are soft.

Once peppers are soft. Grab a blender or food processor and place chilies, soaking water, oregano, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper into the blender and puree.

Place a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Season the chunks of deer with salt and pepper. Place a little bit of oil in the pot and sear the meat in batches to get a nice brown crust on all sides and remove them into a large bowl.

Once all the meat is seared, pour the chili paste from the blender into the bowl of meat and coat all the meat.

Place the meat back in the pot and add beef stock and bay leaves. If the meat is not covered with liquid add a little extra water until all the meat is almost completely covered. (Note: if you still have the leg bone and it fits in the pot, throw it in for added flavor)

Bring the pot to a boil then cover it and turn it down to low and simmer it for 3-4 hours or until the meat is very tender.


(Alternatively if you would like to use a Crockpot™, skip the searing of the meat and follow the rest of the recipe, placing all the meat into the slowcooker on low for 6-8 hours)


A note from the kitchen:

Guajillo chili peppers, are a relatively mild with a complex fruity flavor.

Hatch chili peppers are a generic name for New Mexican peppers that are grown and harvested in the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico.

Chef Ara Zada

About the chef: Chef Ara Zada has always had a need to be outdoors. He attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu and built a career as a professional Chef specializing in recipe development and food styling. He has worked with Jaime Oliver Food Revolution, Food Network, ABC, CBS, NBC, Breville, Gelson’s and a range of others. He has paired his love for cooking with the great outdoors and found a passion in harvesting his own meat. He is an avid archery hunter and spends most of his spare time honing in his archery skill and planning his next hunt. He is also a field staff writer for  Ara recently released a new cookbook titled “Lavash” that is available now everywhere books are available.

Follow him on Instagram: @arazada




Categories: Big Game, Featured

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