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Mexican Cooking Project #2

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What's next? I'm hungry!!!!

Well, as I said in my opening post, I've always wanted to try cochinita pibil, and those exquisite pickled red onions, and some fried platanos.


I've got quite a few recipes, but don't know if I'm going to be able to find banana leaves here, or achiote paste. I do know that there were some MF'ers that undertook an expedition into pibil-land a while back, and am hoping for input from them.


One recipe I've got for a "modern version" seems relatively simple:


Cochinita Pibil (paraphrased from "Mexican Family Cooking" by Aida Gabilondo)


First, prepare marinade:

1 C fresh orange juice

1 T white vinegar

2 T fresh garlic, mashed & minced

2 T achiote paste

salt to taste


5 lbs pork, cut into chunks, best to use a mixture of pork butt, short ribs, etc.


Rub pork chunks with marinade. Seal and allow to marinate in fridge for several hours.


Line large casserole with heavy foil. Arrange meat in it, being sure to include any extra marinade, and seal it up well. Bake in 300 oven for 2-3 hours, checking on it often, and turning the chunks of pork in the juices.


When meat is tender and falling apart, chop it and discard any bones, gristle, etc. Serve with fresh corn tortillas and pickled onions.


Okay -- a simple enough recipe. Maybe too simple? Need some advice and suggestions, folks.

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Well, as I said in my opening post, I've always wanted to try cochinita pibil, and those exquisite pickled red onions, and some fried platanos.   I've got quite a few recipes, but don't know if I'm

if they give any flavour at all it's minimal. i think balic made this point months ago. they do give the pork a wonderful color though.

Thanks. What I'm hearing is, use whatever's available and treat it accordingly.

Jaymes, your recipe for cochinita pibil sounds delicious. I'm trying to figure out how to make time to prepare it this week. On Wednesday afternoon I'm going to a comida and could take a batch of it to share, although it's not a bring-a-dish sort of party. I might do it anyway. Achiote paste is readily available here, and I can go out in the yard and cut a banana leaf or two if I choose to go that direction. Am I correct in assuming that the banana leaves take the place of the aluminum foil in what you posted?

Yes. I know that traditionally, it is wrapped in banana leaves. But I've never made it before and am just learning. I found that recipe in a book by Aida Gabilondo (Zarela's mom). I'm hoping for other recipes to be posted here, but that particular recipe looked easy enough for anyone to be able to manage it.


Aida's recipe for the traditional garnish:


Yucatecan Onions


1 large red onion

2 C boiling water

1 t salt

1/2 C bay leaf tea (see below)

2 T white vinegar

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 t crushed Mexican oregano

6 peppercorns

1/2 t salt


Cut onion in half through stem ends, and slice thinly into half-moon shapes. Place in colander. Add 1 t salt to boiling water and pour over onions to blanch. Drain and put into small bowl or jar. Bring bay leaf tea, vinegar, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt to a boil and pour over onions. Let stand until cool.


Bay Leaf Tea


3 or 4 bay leaves

2 C water


Allow bay leaves and water to boil down to one cup. Remove from heat and let steep until water is deep green color. Remove bay leaves and use infusion in any recipe that calls for bay leaves.

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If you don't have a Mexican grocery near you, banana leaves are usually to be found in the freezer section of an Asian grocery, and they're super cheap. I made sacahuil last year for a party, and had a good time working with banana leaves.

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I made cochinita pibil last May and found it to be pretty easy and very delicious.


Lots of talk about it on this thread.


One recipe.


Diana Kennedy's recipe.


I mostly used the Rick Bayless recipe but used the others as guides.

Abby, did you make the Yucatecan pickled onions go-with, too?

I didn't -- really I'd never heard of them but next time I'll definitely do it.

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Okay, first post on this thread..............


Jaymes, I really like the ease and simplicity of the Pibil recipe you posted and will be interested to hear what kind of outcome you have with it. But since I happen to have some achiote seeds on hand, I think I'm going to try the Rick Bayless recipe - RB Mexican Kitchen, pg. 170 - and see how that turns out. Spent a long time looking as his recipe using achiote seeds vs. Diana Kennedy's recipe using achiote seeds, but I'm going with RB this time. I'm making this for the Super Bowl to be served with fresh corn tortillas and cold XX.


Has any else used the Goya Bitter Orange juice? I tried some a few months ago in a shrimp recipe using achiote paste diluted in bitter (Seville) orange juice. I didn't particularly care for the Goya product, too bitter with a very processed/chemical taste to it. Has anyone else used this product? If so, what was your reaction to it, and what kind of a dish did you use it for.


I've got a couple of easy recipes for onions and another one for rajas to share. Both came from Ricardo Munoz (please understand fellow posters, I am NOT trying to name drop).


[/b]Cured Onions


1 White onion sliced (could use red onions too)

1/4 Cup lime juice

2 Tsp. sea salt


Mix onions & salt with hands which will break down the onion fibers and work the salt into the onions. The onions should be saltier than you want the final product to be. Add lime juice, cover and let marinate from 2 hours to 2 days.


Rajas de Agua


Those of you that have traveled in Oaxaca, especially during the fall, have probably seen the Chile de Agua, which is not frequently found outside of Oaxaca. They are beautiful light green chiles that ripen to a gorgeous scarlet red and pack quite the spicy/heat payload. Poblanos or Anaheims can be substituted in this very quick and easy reicpe


3 Chiles de Agua (or poblanos), roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into long strips

3 Tbls. sour Key Lime juice

1/2 Tsp. sea salt


Mix the chiles, lime juice and salt together in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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But since I happen to have some achiote seeds on hand, I think I'm going to try the Rick Bayless recipe - RB Mexican Kitchen, pg. 170 - and see how that turns out. Spent a long time looking as his recipe using achiote seeds vs. Diana Kennedy's recipe using achiote seeds, but I'm going with RB this time.

I also have access to achiote seeds and banana leaves, so I think I'll also go the more difficult route. Do you have that recipe handy?

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Here ya go, RG. The Rick Bayless recipe from his Mexican Kitchen cookbook. I'm assuming that since I'm fully crediting the source there isn't a copyright issue?? Since Rick has a tendency to get a little wordy, I'll paraphase some of the prep instructions just in case...........


Tacos de Cochinita Pibil w/ Pickled Red Onions


For the Achiote Seasoning Paste

2 Tbls. achiote seeds

2 tsp. allspice, preferably freshly ground

1 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1 1/2 tsp. Oregano, dried, Mexican

3 Tbls. vinegar, cider

6 garlic cloves peeled

1 tsp. salt (generous teaspoon)


Finely pulverize the achiote seeds in a spice grinder and transfer to a small bowl. Add in the allspice, black pepper, oregano and vinegar. Mixture should be very thick and crumbly at this point. Roughly chop the garlic, place on a cutting board, and sprinkle with the salt. Make a paste of the garlic and salt. Turn the achiote mixture out on top of the garlic/salt paste and work the two together. Slowly drizzle in enough water to create a thick but spreadable paste - about 1-2 Tbls.


For the Meat

6 Tbls. sour orange juice - or - 1/4 cup fresh lime juice + 2 Tbls. fresh OJ

2 lb. piece of lean boneless pork should (Boston Butt) - or - a 3 lb. bone-in pork blade roast

2 - 12" x 18" pieces of banana leaf (defrost if frozen)


Combine the achiote paste and the juice(s) in a large mixing bowl and add the meat. Flip it over to coat it and work the seasoning into all the little nooks and crannies. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.


Preheat the oven to 325*. In a 6 qt. dutch oven (or other ovenproof container) drape the banana leaves so that they form a cross (+) on the bottom of the pan with the excess going up the sides and over the edge of the pot. Place the meat in the middle of the cross and scape all the juices from the marinate on top of the meat. Fold the banana leaves over the top of the meat to fully enclose it. (If you are not using banana leaves, just set the meat in the pot and scrape the marinade over it). Drizzle 1 Cup of water around the meat. Cover tightly and roast in the oven until it is fall-apart tender, about 3 hours. You will occasionally need to check the level of the liquid in the pot, adding water if it has all evaporated.


With spatulas or meat forks, lift the meat package out of the pot and set on a cutting board. Pour the juices remaining in the pot into a large measuring cup or gravy separator. Let both the meat and the juices cool slightly.


Roughly chop or shred the meat, the yield should be about 4 Cups. Sprinkle with a little salt and return meat to the pot in which it was roasted. Spoon off the fat that has risen to the top of the juices and pour a little bit of juice over the meat, enough to moisten it. Cover and keep warm. Place the remaining meat juice in a small saucepan and keep warm ( there should be a cup or less of meat juice, if there is more, boil it until reduced to a cup or less)


Rick's serving suggestion with this is to roll two (2) generous tablespoons of the meat into soft corn tortillas, drizzle with some of the warm meat juices and top with the pickled onions.


Here's the pickled onion recipe


Pickled Red Onions

1 Onion, red, small, sliced 1/8" thick

1/4 tsp. black peppercorns

1/4 tsp. Cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. Oregano, dried, Mexican

2 Garlic cloves peeled and halved

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/3 Cup Vinegar, cider


Blanch the onions in boiling water for 45 seconds, drain and put in a medium size, non-reactive bowl.


Coarsely grind the black peppercorns and cumin seed in a mortar or in a spice grinder. Add to the onions, Add the remaining ingredients and enough water to barely cover. Stir well, let stand for several hours until the onions turn bright pink.


Covered and refrigerated the onions will last several weeks.


I have some whole Allspice berries that I'm going to grind as well and use in the achiote paste preparation. I'm also using some Mexican sea salt that I brought back from a recent trip to Monterrey. Not sure if I'm going to pot roast this in the oven or on top of the stove, a lot will depend upon the size and shape of the pork Butt I end up with. Also, not sure if I'll do tacos as RB suggests or something more entree-like.


Lippy - I will be very interested to hear what you think of the Diana Kennedy recipe. I usually prefer her recipes to Rick's in terms of flavor profiles, but this time his seemed a like it might have a little softer and rounder flavor. I like her sour orange substitute better than his and may go ahead and use that instead, but who knows, we'll see. But in any event, please post about your result.

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I actually haven't decided yet which recipe I'll try. I do usually have great success with DK. I haven't had a chance to get out into greater Springfield MO and see what ingredients I can find, so don't know yet about annatto/achiote or banana leaves.


But I do think I'll try Aida's recipe for the Yucatecan red onions. I find the idea of bay leaf tea intriguing.

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Here's DK's version of the Yucatecan Pickled Onions (paraphrased of course)


She says that in traditional Yucatecan homes, you'll often see a large glass jar of these on the counter ready for use as a garnish.


Cebollas Yucatecas


1 large red onion, sliced thinly

10 peppercorns

4 whole allspice

1 scant TB Mexican oregano, toasted & crumbled

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/4 C mild vinegar

salt to taste


Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least 24 hours.


She mentions that the Yucatecans will sometimes add a few favorite chiles, although her recipe doesn't call for any.

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