Image: Arnold Gatilao
Cochinita Pibil (Yucatán-Style Barbecued Pork)
The Cochinita is served family style, as a festive meal; a long cooking time provides extra kitchen time to make salsas and condiments that are tradtionally served with this dish, wrapped together in small warmed corn tortillas, as soft tacos.
- 1 medium, boneless pork butt (4 to 6 pounds), trimmed but with some fat remaining
- 3 ounces achiote paste
- 12 cloves peeled garlic
- 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
- 10 cracked allspice berries (or 2 teaspoons ground allspice)
- 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 6 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (optional)
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3/4 cup (175ml) bitter (Seville) orange juice, or 1/4 cup (60ml) each lime, orange, and grapefruit juice
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 fresh habanero chiles stemmed and seeded
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound frozen banana leaves. Thawed and rinsed well in cool water. Tear 8 1/2 inch strrips from one leaf and tie two together to make four long strips.
- Place the pork in a freezer bag and set aside.
- With a spice grinder, grind the cumin seeds, peppercorns, allspice berries, and cloves to a fine powder.
- In a blender or food processor, mix the ground spices and other ingredients (except the banana leaves) together, and pour mixture in to bag with pork. Distribute well to coat meat, and marinate overnight in refridgerator.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- line the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with 2 or 3 banana leaves. They should overlap the pan on all sides.
- Remove the pork from the bag and reserve marinade.
- place pork fat side up on the leaves in the pan. Pour about 1/2 cup of the marinade over the meat.
- Place 3 or four more banana leaves over the pork and inside of the bottom leaves. Pull bottom leaves around the meat; tie strips of banana leaves around this package from both directions to secure.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 3-1/2 to 4 hours until meat is tender. Leaves may be almost black on the outside when finished.
- allow to cool for 20 minutes; then slit open the banana leaves with a sharp knife or scisors (be careful of escaping steam) and remove pork and liquids to separate serving platter or plate.