It took a few years after my visit to Chichen Itza Restaurant - Los Angeles, but I finally got around to making my own Cochinita/Puerco Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork) in May 2009. The above photo though was from a Crock Pot Cochinita Pibil that I made a year later.
Cochinita means baby pig, so if you're using regular pork, like I did, it's really puerco pibil. The pork is seasoned with ground annatto seeds and all-spice berries, slightly tart from sour orange juice, and cooked in banana leaves. I adapted Director Robert Rodriguez's Ten Minute Cooking School recipe, (which if you haven't seen the video yet, you totally should) because I figured that if Johnny Depp's character in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" shoots any cook who makes it too well, then has to be good. Rodriguez's recipe is one of the bonus features on the DVD, but you can find it all over YouTube. Who knew the guy who left his wife and five kids for Rose McGowan could cook? What? Like you don't read gossip?
Anyway, I scaled down the recipe, substituted ground spices, used a combination of fresh orange and Meyer lemon juice to replicate sour orange juice, and omitted the tequila. The result was one of the most succulent and flavorful pork dishes ever. Hmm. Just writing this up makes me want to cook it again.
Cochinita/Puerco Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork)
Adapted from Director Robert Rodriguez's Ten Minute Cooking School recipe on the "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" DVD.
For 4 servings, you'll need:
3 lbs pork, cut into 2- or 3-inch squares
1 onion, pureed or finely diced
8 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno or habanero pepper
3 tblsp annatto seed powder
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 all-spice berries, ground or 1 tsp
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 large oranges, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
1 package banana leaves
You'll need a 3-lb hunk of pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces. Set aside.
Puree 1 onion, 8 cloves garlic, and 1 jalapeno or habanero pepper. Then add 3 tblsp annatto seed powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 3 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp ground all-spice, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
Dump everything into a bowl and add the juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons. Mix everything together and add the pork.
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Wash the banana leaves and wipe them thoroughly with a paper towel. You'll be surprised how dirty the banana leaves are. I spent many afternoons of my childhood wiping banana leaves for my Ba Noi (Vietnamese Paternal Grandmother)'s Banh Nam (Vietnamese Flat Rice Dumpling with Shrimp and Pork).
When the banana leaves are all clean, lay one whole leaf flat on a big pan like so.
Then lay several leaves the opposite direction, making sure they generously overhang the sides.
One more horizontally just to make sure the juices don't leak out.
Then add in all the pork and marinade mixture.
Fold up the banana leaves over the pork, starting with the overhanging side.
And again the other direction.
And again, until you have a nice, tight bundle.
But it's not quite tight enough yet. So wrap aluminum foil over the whole pan and make sure it's completely sealed.
Bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours. Low and slow is what makes the pork tender. After 4 hours, you'll get this.
Oh man, look at that juicy pork.
You can put it in a tortilla.
But I like it best with plain white rice.
Some other Mexican recipes you might like:
Carne Asada (Mexican Grilled Meat)
Chicken Enchiladas with Nutella Mole Poblano
Chicken Tortilla SoupMango Salsa
Squash Blossom Quesadilla
Sweet Corn Tomalito
Tacos al Pastor (Mexican Shepherd-Style Tacos)
1 year ago today, Tropical Fruit Cocktail Delight.
2 years ago today, Buttermilk Biscuits from homemade buttermilk, a by-product of my homemade butter.