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Mexican Cooking Project #2

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i've raved enough about the side dishes, now to the main one.

To recoup: the recipe for cochinita pibil i used came from Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook. Chunks of pork butt, couple of pig ears and couple of tongues (not called for by the recipe) were marinated overnight in achiote paste (seville orange juice including) and orange and lime juices. Braised in marinade enclosed in banana leaves for two hours and a half in 300F oven. Meat and ears were perfectly done, tongues were in need of ten min or so of cooking to reach this state but were great nevertheless.


Now can i mention side dishes just one more time? :(

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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.

Wait till ya'll get to the left overs :( It's even better the next day.


I made my Cochinta yesterday fully intending to eat it during the Superbowl. My boss' secretary came over instead and we did stuff other than watch football.


I used the Rick Bayless recipe in RB's Mexican Kitchen, making the achiote paste from scratch and using banana leaves to wrap the marinated pork butt. My banana leaves were a little too brittle but I played around with them and managed to get it wrapped up pretty well. Cooked in the oven, quite a bit longer than the recipe called for, partly because it was a bigger piece of meat than the recipe called for and partly because we got involved in something else. Not only did the house smell great while the pork was cooking, you could smell it outside as well.


We shredded the meat and made tacos out of it with pickled onions, avocado, cilantro, radishes and some of the pan juices. Wonderful. I sent some home (along with some left over Coloradito mole) with my guest and she had Cochinita for breakfast this morning. The recipe I used was easier than I expected as was the final product.


If Barbacoa is your next recipe I think I'll sit that one out. Depending upon how you're planning to do it, it's way to labor intensive for me and I'm not that ambitious. I got an up close and personal demonstration on doing lamb barbacoa in Teotitlan del Valle this past October. And there "ain't no way" I'm willing or able to reproduce that! :( Any interest in doing chilequilas or a shrimp or fish dish?

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Any interest in doing chilequilas or a shrimp or fish dish?

I haven't had an opportunity to do the cochinita yet, but am planning that for tomorrow. Usually Tuesday is my shopping day; Wednesday my cooking day.


So maybe I am thinking ahead too quickly, but there really are quite a few dishes we could consider for further down la linea.


Chilaquiles (sort of a tortilla casserole)



One of the wonderful fish dishes of the Gulf coast, like Huachinango a la Veracruzana (Snapper in the Veracruz style), or any other fish in the famous Veracruz style

Cocteles de Camarones, or Campechana (shrimp or mixed seafood cocktails)

Carne Guisada (meat stew, 'green chile stew' being the most famous)

Calabacitas (squash - a side dish)

Arroz con Pollo (chicken & rice)

Crepas con Cajeta (crepes with caramel sauce)


How about some other suggestions, everyone? And we can begin to vote.


Although I agree with Kalypso that in my current circumstance, I'd rather not get too ambitious or attempt anything too time consuming, like tamales or mole.



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I chose the butt end of a shoulder for the cochinita. In the end, the meat yield from this cut was not great. I followed the Kennedy recipe. I scored the fat in addition to piercing the exposed meat. The spice/orange juice mixture was more of a marinade than a rub. In the result, it was delicious, if not as fully flavored as I might have liked. I think five hours cooking is a bit long. I needed to leave it unattended for the last two and a half hours, which resulted in a hard, dark crust in the pot. Adding some liquid from time to time during that period would have helped with this. Anyway, afterwards, I deglazed the pot and now I have a very intense jus. Suggestions for the use of this will be welcomed.


The onions with the bay leaf tea were outstanding.


I won't be able to play again for about three weeks, but this is fun.

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The spice/orange juice mixture was more of a marinade than a rub. In the result, it was delicious, if not as fully flavored as I might have liked.


This was my observation as well. The flavors were a bit too subtle for both my husband and myself.


The following day, I put a little canola oil in a fry pan and pan fried the pulled pork to give it some crispy edges. I also sprinkled w/salt and pepper, which made an improvement. Maybe it lacked salt originally. Come to think of it, I think I forgot to season w/ salt at all, just using the achiote paste for seasoning, besides vinegar, OJ & garlic. :( . Come to think of it, I'm sure that's why I thought the flavor so subtle.

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Here's some notes on my pibil. I used a 3lb chunk of pork shoulder, nicely layered with fat. After purusing the recipes, I decided to use Diana Kennedy's, with side advice from Rick Bayless and "Mexico the Beautiful".


The banana leaves were found frozen at a local Asian market (thank's Abra!) and lo and behold, they had Seville oranges at Whole Paycheck. I'd never used these before and I really liked the tart flavor. My rub actually turned out to be a nice paste which I rubbed over the pork, wrapped in the banana leaves and marinated about 4 hours. I had a bit of trouble with the banana leaves as they wanted to fall apart on me, but since it was all in a dutch oven anyway, I didn't worry too much about it. The pork roasted between 300-325 for about 3 hours and came out juicy and tender and easy to shred.


I made Diana Kennedy's onion salsa with habeneros and Seville orange juice. I was worried the chiles would be too hot for us, so I seeded them--big mistake. After sitting in the acidic juice for a couple of hours (as per the recipe), they had become quite mild, so next time I'd leave the seeds in. I didn't have quite enough bitter orange left for this, so I made up a mixture of fresh squeezed key lime juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice which I adjusted until I could barely tell the difference between it and the Seville juice.


I also made the Aida Gabilondo pickled onions (thanks, Jaymes!) with the bay tea. They came out well and were quite tasty, although I have a ton of them left and my husband wasn't wild about them.


Served it all with black beans cooked with some side pork, onion, cilantro stems and a charred habenero; tortillas, chopped lettuce with lime and avocado; and some pineapple, citrus fruit and cucumber sprinkled with lime and chile.


We enjoyed this meal, but it I have to say that I'm just not that wild about the pibil-style rub. I've been to the Yucatan a few times and had it in various forms and I always feel a little let down after tasting it. Maybe it's the achiote. At any rate, for this much work, I'd rather make carnitas or even chile verde (which is actually much easier). But it was fun to try it out and I've got some nice leftovers.



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Marinating now in my fridge is what I hope will be a delicious rendition of cochinita pibil. Following the advice of my team of advisors :blush: I am marinating a pork butt wrapped in banana leaves for a couple of days before cooking. The butcher tied the meat so I untied it, rubbed it with the marinade and tied it up in the leaves in an approximation of the shape the butcher achieved. D Kennedy's advice to use strips of banana leaf to tie came in handy. The aroma this morning was already fabulous (I did it last night at about 7). I have orange fingernails from the spice rub.


I too plan on making the Seville orange juice and habanero salsa. And the pickled onions.

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We finally had ours last night.


The first thing I'd say is that the pickled onion garnish absolutely made it. I tried both recipes -- the Aida Gabolongo one and the DK one -- and although it was very difficult to tell them apart, the Aida one (with the bay leaf tea), was a little better, we all thought. The bay flavor was nice. After we sampled both recipes, I just dumped them all into one jar.


I made the simplest cochinita recipe -- the one I gave earlier in the thread. I couldn't find any sour oranges, so I did add some grapefruit, lemon and lime juice, as suggested here. And prepared achiote paste, etc. I followed the suggestion to use more than one kind of meat, so I used 3 pounds of pork butt, and 2 pounds of country ribs. I think that was an excellent suggestion, as the fatty ribs did add a lot of flavor to the pork butt. I chunked them into pieces about 2" square, then rubbed with the achiote mix. I did find banana leaves, which were inexpensive and easy to work with. I wrapped the pork up with the banana leaves and let it marinate in the fridge for two days. Two days wasn't intentional, but it's just how it worked out.


Then I set the whole banana leaf-wrapped bundle into a large piece of aluminum foil, nestled it down into a Dutch oven, sealed it up as tightly as I could, covered the Dutch oven, and cooked it at 300 for about 4-5 hours. Removed it from the oven, let it cool a little, and tore it into shreds, stirring to incorporate all the cooking juices.


Couldn't find fresh tortillas here, so just bought some at the local WalMart. They actually weren't bad, but just heating them wouldn't soften them. I did have to fry them in a little oil. I also fried some platanos. And I sliced up a couple of avocados to complete the meal.


I'd have to say it was outstanding. Someone else here said that although it was good, for that much work they'd rather have carnitas. I thought about that several times while I was eating, and tried to decide. For me, it's a close call. Of course, since I used the "quick" recipe, it wasn't that much work.


For the folks that did think it was a lot of work, I'd say....well....pity the poor Yucatecan. At least you didn't have to dig a pit. :blush:

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Last night, using some of the frozen leftover cochinita pibil, I made a stack of five tortillas layered with guacamole, sour cream, guacamole and some bottled "taco sauce." We each had half the stack and found it so filling that we couldn't even eat our salad! I don't know if this kind of presentation passes muster as Mexican, but it was delicious.

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I liked the Cochinita Pibil that I had in Mérida, but I make a spicier version of it. Actually, what I make is closer to Ropa Vieja, and I simmer the meat in the juice and a bit of added water, mainly because my oven is unreliable. I've been using a combination of orange and lemon, but I'm going to try maybe a bit of grapefruit and/or lime to make it tarter, but I don't have a grapefruit tree, and so I'll have to buy the grapefruit. I haven't looked for Seville oranges, but there's a possibility I could find them.


I have too much food in my fridge/freezer that I have to use up in the next two weeks, and so I won't be able to make this for a while, but I will after my kitchen painting is over. The kitchen will be painted (and I'll get a new floor, I hope) while we are in Mexico the beginning of March.

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I don't make my own achiote - I buy La Perla brand, and I really like it.


Here are the ingredients I use


2-3 pounds pork butt or pork shoulder (turkey legs and be substituted also)

4-6 cups water

2-3 oranges, sliced*

2-3 limes (or lemons) sliced*

8 cloves garlic

1-2 tbsp cumin*

1-2 tbsp achiote paste, crumbled*

1 tbsp oregano


*I adjust the seasonings according to the amount of meat I am using. Since DB does not eat pork, I sometimes substitute turkey legs and/or thighs. I know that is another dish, but the flavor is somewhat similar. I arrived at these proportions by trial and error, but I have seen other recipes that come very close to what I have chosen.


Today I received the Del Mayab Achiote recipes cookbook. It's a bit smaller than I expected, but it has great color photos, which I like because they inspire me a lot.

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I don't make my own achiote - I buy La Perla brand, and I really like it.


There's been some discussion as to whether or not the annatto seeds add a flavor, or if they're just for color. I think they do seem to have a distinct, although subtle, flavor.


What do you think?

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I think annatto seeds have a very distinctive flavor, somewhat earthy, and I noticed a huge difference when they are omitted. I associate their flavor with Yucatan, and the association is so strong that I think of that state whenever I taste them.


Recipe for achiote paste


I don't know if this is a standard recipe or not, but the Del MayaB La Perla achiote paste that I have is made from Annatto seed, spices [?], vinegar, salt, water, granulated garlic, cornmeal, andFD&C red color #40. I can't understand why the red color is added, since the annatto seeds have enough color of their own. I suppose I should try making it myself some time.

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