Cochinita Pibil / Pit-Roasted Pork

(Adapted from Mayan Cuisine and The Cuisines of Mexico)

3 to 3½ pounds pork butt, trimmed
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 scant teaspoon salt
2 strong tablespoons achiote paste*
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1–2 habañero or jalapeño chiles, seeds and stems removed (to taste)
12–14 cloves garlic, peeled, ends removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup bitter (Seville) orange juice*
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 bay leaves

Grind peppercorns, cumin seed, coriander seed and allspice with a mortar and pestle (or in a spice grinder). In a blender, add ground spices, achiote paste, salt oregano, chiles, garlic, onion and liquids. Blend together. (It can be a little chunky.) Add bay leaves to the mixture.

Score the pork with a knife, cutting holes into the meat on the top and bottom. Place meat in a non-reactive/glass bowl or a freezer bag. Pour red sauce over the meat and marinate for 2–3 hours, or overnight.

When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the pork and its marinade into a Dutch oven or heavy roasting pan with a lid. Roast for 3 to 3.5 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Allow to cool slightly. Remove meat from the pan, discarding bay leaves. Shred the meat with a fork. (It will look like pulled pork.)

Spoon some of the cooking juices onto the shredded meat while it is still hot for more flavor and color, to taste.

Serve with cebollas moradas encurtidas, chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime on soft tortillas.

*NOTES: Achiote paste is made from ground achiote (annatto) seeds. It can be found at markets selling Mexican or Guatemala foods.

Bitter (Seville) orange juice is produced by Goya and other purveyors of Latin foods. As a substitute, Diana Kennedy (the Julia Child of Mexican cooking) suggests blending 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh grapefruit rind, 3 tablespoons orange juice, 3 tablepoons grapefruit juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

This recipe works great in a slow cooker. Just thickly slice an onion and place it on the bottom of the crock. Set the pork on top of the onion slices, cover with all of the marinade and cook on low for 8 hours.


2 thoughts on “Cochinita Pibil / Pit-Roasted Pork

    […] my take on this recipe, I have simplified the sauce (eschewing making a separate red paste, part of which ends up in the […]

    End on an Era « Three Points Kitchen said:
    December 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    […] Yucatan. On December 21, I’m going to dust off the slow cooker for an all-day roast of of cochinita pibil, which I’ll serve that evening with the traditional condiment of pickled red onions. Am still […]

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