Anyone who has traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico has probably had cochinita pibil. It is one of the most famous dishes of this region and is one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Cochinita pibil is achiote-marinated pork that has been roasted in banana leaves. The marinade is made of lots of citrus, garlic and achiote paste, which is made of the anatto seed and various spices. Anatto seed is a deep red spice that is used mostly for dyeing and has a very mild flavor despite its vivid color. It is typically served with red pickled onions and fiery orange habanero salsa. From its spicy and tangy flavors to its festive pink and orange colors, this is the perfect summer party dinner for a big crowd!
- 2 3.5 pounds pork shoulder
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 head garlic
- 1 - 1.5 pounds fresh banana leaves
- 4 tablespoons achiote rojo (You can find this at most Mexican markets)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 3/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- sea or kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- corn tortillas (for serving)
- lime wedges (for serving)
Pickled Red Onion
- The day before, roast the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon until they start to become fragrant. Keep an eye on the spices since they burn easily. When they've cooled, put them in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind into a find powder.
- In a blender or food processor, process the garlic cloves until finely minced. Add oregano, spice mixture, achiote rojo, lime and orange juices. Blend until you have a smooth marinade.
- Score the fat side of your pork shoulder in large criss-cross patterns so the marinade can penetrate the meat. Season all sides of the pork liberally with salt and pepper. Place the pork in a large mixing bowl and pour the achiote mixture over the pork, turning it so the marinade covers the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- When you're ready to roast the pork, line a roasting pan with banana leaves over-lapping each leaf in a cross shape so the excess hangs over the edges of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Place the pork inside the pan and place sliced white onions over the pork. Pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Fold banana leaves over the pork creating a wrapped up package. Tuck the ends into the sides of the pan.
- Pour a cup of water down the edge of the pan and cover the pan tightly with foil.
- Roast at 325 degrees for 4.5-5 hours until the pork falls apart easily.
- Serve with warm tortillas, habanero salsa and picked red onions
Pickled Red Onion
- Pour boiling water over the sliced onions and let sit for about 10 seconds.
- Drain onions and place in a bowl and pour orange and lime juice and salt over the onions. Let marinade for about 4 hours.
Roasted Habanero Salsa
- Preheat the oven broiler.
- Trim the stems of the chiles and cut them in half. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet with the garlic cloves and broil them on the highest rack level until they are soft and start to blister and and blacken.
- Put chiles, garlic, lime juice, salt and 1/4 cup of water in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
(images by HonestlyYUM)