Saturday, 1 May 2010

cochinita pibil - citrus roasted pork

Cochinita Pibil (also known as Puerco Pibil) is a traditional Mexican recipe using recado rojo, or achiote, a paste made from ground annatto seeds. The paste itself is pretty flavourless, but its real value comes from the vibrant, natural red colour it gives to food.

Cochinita Pibil is basically pork that’s been marinated in orange juice then slow-roasted in banana leaves to lock in the moisture while cooking.

It's from the Yucatán and the traditional recipe uses bitter oranges. The orange juice gives a really interesting, fresh flavour to the rich meat.

The Mayan word "pibil" means "buried" and “cochinita” means “suckling pig”, so perhaps technically my version is “Puerco Pibil” (puerco meaning pork). But since Cochinita Pibil is the more common term, no matter what kind of pig you're cooking, I’m sticking to it!

Like many of my recipes leading up to Cinco de Mayo, this one comes from my Mexican pals, Tia Bicky & Robot.

Cochinita Pibil
Tia Bicky's adaptation from Mexico: The Beautiful Cookbook. Serves 6-8.

1.5 kilos of cubed pork
50g recado rojo (achiote paste)
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
2 teaspoons of salt or more as required
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 2 oranges
Squeeze of lime
Fresh Banana leaves
1. Dissolve the achiote paste in the orange juice using your fingers, add vinegar and salt.
2. Marinate the pork in the juice. There should be enough liquid to coat all of the pork in excess, otherwise add more juice mixture.
3. Marinate overnight or at least 6 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 180’C.
5. Prepare the banana leaves by heating them over the flame very briefly on the stove top until the oil starts to come out of the leaves.
6. Line an ovenproof dish with banana leaves crosswise so that you can wrap the ends over the top after adding the pork.
7. Mix the pork with a lime squeezed over the top and 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or more to moisten).
8. Fold the banana leaves over the pork completely and cover tightly with aluminium foil.
9. Cook in oven for at least 90 minutes or until the meat shreds easily with a fork, but ensure the pork remains moist.
10. Shred the pork completely before serving. Serve with rice or tortillas, orange pickled onions and other accompaniments such as black beans, guacamole and salsas.
Note: oranges in Australia are much sweeter than Mexico so lime juice is added. You can omit the lime if you’re using Mexican oranges. Also, the original recipe uses pork lard instead of olive oil.

Orange Pickled Onions
2 red onions finely sliced
Orange juice
Lime juice
habanero or jalapeño chiles, finely sliced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Mix the finely sliced onions with juice, vinegar, salt to taste and chillies. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.
Notes: Traditionally the recipe uses habaneros but they can be too hot for some people so Tia uses pickled jalapeños instead.

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