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Cochinita Pibil Recipe|[Mayan-Style Pit Pork]

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Serves 4 - 6 | Prep Time 24 hours | Cook Time 4 hours

Why I Love This Recipe

A age old recipe from the Yucatan for Pit Style Pork.

Ingredients You'll Need

3/4 cup crumbled achiote paste (about 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons sour orange juice, such as Seville orange (about 1 orange)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or Italian oregano
1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast (also known as pork butt)
1 large banana leaf (about 4 feet long)
3 medium yellow onions, quartered
1/2 cup water


Combine achiote paste, juice, vinegar, garlic, and oregano in a medium nonreactive bowl and stir until well blended. Generously season pork on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the bowl with the achiote mixture and turn to coat it well, rubbing the spice mixture into any crevices. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 24 hours.

When ready to cook the pork, remove from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Remove the center core from the banana leaf and run the leaf under hot tap water until it becomes soft and pliable. Pat dry with paper towels and cut in half horizontally; overlap the two pieces of leaf so that they roughly form a rectangle about 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. Place the pork on the banana leaves, fold in the left and right sides, and roll it up like a burrito to completely encase the pork.

In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid arrange onions evenly on the bottom to form a layer. Place pork on top of the onions, with the seam of the banana leaves facing down, and pour water into the bottom of the pan, cover, and place in the oven to cook until pork is fork tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Place meat in a bowl and, using two forks, shred into bite-size pieces. Add onions and pan juices and stir to mix thoroughly. Serve with Pickled Red Onions, warm corn tortillas, and salsa.

Pickled Red Onions Recipe


2 medium red onions, halved lengthwise, root ends removed, and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 medium limes)

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 5 medium oranges)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 jalapeño pepper


Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add onions and blanch for about 15 seconds. Drain well and set aside.

Combine lime juice, orange juice, sugar, and salt in a large nonreactive bowl, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add blanched onion slices and jalapeño, and stir to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

If You Can Not Find Achiote Rojo Seasoning

Don’t worry, you can easily make your own!

Makes about 1/2 cup

Annatto seeds — 2 tablespoons

Peppercorns — 1 tablespoon

Whole cloves or allspice berries — 5 or 6

Mexican dried oregano — 2 teaspoons

Cumin seeds — 2 teaspoons

Cinnamon — 1 teaspoon

Salt — 2 teaspoons

Garlic cloves — 8 to 10

Sour orange juice or vinegar — 1/4 cup


Place all of the spices and the salt into a spice or coffee grinder and process until the spices are fully pulverized. This may take some time, as annatto seeds are very hard. Pass it through a sieve if necessary to remove any grit.

Place the garlic and sour orange juice or vinegar into a blender or small food processor and process until smooth.

Place the spices into a bowl and stir in the garlic puree until the paste is smooth. Set aside for at least a few hours before using to allow the flavors to meld.

Rub the recado into meats, poultry, fish or seafood a few hours before roasting or grilling it. Recado can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.


For an even deeper flavor, you can first toast the whole spices in a hot, ungreased skillet for a few minutes, stirring until they release their aroma.

For convenience sake you can use all ground spices. Grind up the oregano with your hand as much as possible to break the large flakes down into a powder. Ground annatto seeds can sometimes be found in Latin markets under the name achiote molido.

If you want, eliminate the cumin and cinnamon. Or add ground coriander.

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