Cochinita Pibil

February 24, 2010

Author Notes: 20 years ago, before the Costa Maya was even a twinkle in the Mexican tourist industries eye, my husband and I would go to a little restaurant in Cancun called Los Almendros - it was by the bull ring under a giant almond tree. They had real Yucatecan cuisine, panuchos and pavo en kol Indio and, best of all, cochinita pibil - my husband's absolute favorite. We forgo Cancun and head straight to Akumal these days, so I don't know if Los Almendros is still there, but we still make the cochinita now and again ... This dish is made with an inexpensive cut of meat and a few seasonings. Two important points 1) do not trim all of the fat, it adds a ton of flavor and 2) cook it low and slow - really pretty much the longer the better. Round out your meal with black beans and fresh corn tortillas and you have peasant food fit for a king. aargersi

Serves: 6 to 8 with leftovers


Cochinita Pibil

  • 1 3-4 pound pork shoulder
  • 1/2 3.5 oz box of achiote paste (available in Latin markets or online)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 5-6 garlic cloves peeled and kind of crushed
  • 1 medium yellow onion - peeled and sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 limes - juice and zest
  • 1 big handful of cilantro

Pickled Onions (these are the same ones that go in the beef cheek tacos)

  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 of a beet
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 part water to 2 parts cider vinegar
In This Recipe


Cochinita Pibil

  1. Cut any big giant hunks of fat from the pork shoulder, but leave SOME of it for flavor. Dissolve the achiote paste in water. Marinate the pork shoulder with the achiote, orange juice, cumin and half the garlic - this should marinate for 2-3 hours.
  2. Heat the oven to 250. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat it dry. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven, and brown the pork - it will only get just so brown what with the fat melting and the residual marinade - that's OK. Add the onions and brown them a bit too.
  3. Dump the marinade back in and add the broth, lime and cilantro. Braise it low and slow for 3-4 hours - until it is falling apart and you don't even need to think about using a knife.
  4. Serve with refried black beans, additional limes and cilantro, corn tortillas and pickled onions (recipe to follow)

Pickled Onions (these are the same ones that go in the beef cheek tacos)

  1. Slice the onions very thinly and put them in a microwaveable container. Add the beet, cilantro, salt and sugar. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vingar.
  2. microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then refridgerate overnight.

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