Cochinta Pibil

I had the pleasure of being given a recipe from a friend who has been to Mexico many times and has enjoyed being served and preparing herself many, many dishes. She even gave me one of the main ingredients so that I would not have to run around trying to find it.

My style when trying new recipes, (even though I have been advised by more experienced cooks that this is very foolish – use a recipe 10 times before serving to guests), is to gather together a big group and close friends and family. This gathering turned out to be 15 adults and 7 children. The risky part was that most of the children are fussy eaters, (no problem hot dogs for them) and 2 of the adults I had never cooked for before and the main ingredient I had never tasted.

Well, you know it turned out well or I wouldn’t be writing about it and posting the recipe. (I won’t take the time to write a blog about all the failed kitchen experiments. Plenty of content but rather want to keep the recounting of mistakes to a minimum.) My friend added in her comments and I will do the same – it was super easy to prepare this way.

Cochinta Pibil (Pulled pork)

1. The meat

    • 2 kg pork shoulder (at room temperature) cut into chunks

Place chunks into large roasting pan and sprinkle liberally with a non iodized salt, (I use “Diamond brand” kosher salt)

2. The liquid

    • Juice from 4 oranges
    • Juice from 1 lime
    • 3/4 cup white vinegar
    • Achiote paste, (about 1” wide chunk)

Place in a blender and process until liquid and pour over pork

3. Cooking

a. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours at 350 degrees F. (Or use the BBQ if the kitchen is unbearable hot already)

b. Using tongs of a slotted spoon, remove the pork from the liquid and place on a large baking tray. With 2 forks shred it and place back in the liquid.

c. Cook for another hour without the foil. There should be a great sauce developing.

4. Serving

Start with a warm tortilla, place on some pork, pickled onions and as much of the 2 sauces as you can take the heat from. Let everyone make their own and adjust the levels of heat accordingly. Maybe a few sprigs of cilantro on top before rolling up like a burrito.

5. Pickled Onions, (for my crew we had to triple this recipe)

    • 1 red onion sliced thinly
    • 1/4 cup vinegar, (any kind you like)
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • salt
    • 1/2 cup warm water
    • (optional) 2 seeded and sliced Habanero peppers

Combine and let stand at least 30 minutes, but is better made one to two days ahead.

6. Creamy Hot Habanero Sauce

    • 1/2 red onion, 1 clove garlic, 4 seeded Habanero chilies – roast until blackened
    • add above mixture to a blender with juice of 1/2 an orange, oregano and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    • whizz into a creamy sauce

7. Roasted Red Salsa 

    • 2 large tomatoes, 4 dried Arbol chilies, 1 clove garlic – roast until blackened and then pulse lightly in a food processor or whizz in a blender for a smooth sauce

I was an hour and a half car drive from good grocery stores and asked family to bring the supplies. So we ended up with store-bought Habanero sauce and salsa. Next time I will make these 2 as described above. On my last trip to Mexico I brought home 3 different kinds of dried chilies and it makes a difference to the final dish to have these lovely fresh condiments.

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