Monday October 03, 2011
Cochinita Pibil or Slow Roasted Pork with Corn Tortillas
Here is the description from Tasting Table:
"The secret to this tender Cochinita Pibil is its long roasting time. But the key to the slow-roasted pork's flavor is annatto-seed paste. The thick, deep red paste is one of the many distinctive ingredients of Mexico's Yucatán region. At the new restaurant Mateo's Cocina Latina in Healdsburg, California, its Yucatán-born chef-owner, Mateo Granados, thinks the mild, earthy paste with vinegar and water, bathing the pork shoulder in the russet sauce before wrapping it in banana leaves. A 4½-hour roast turns the meat supple and deeply flavored, requiring only a nudge to break into bite-size shards. Serve the pork as Granados does, alongside warm tortillas, spicy-sweet cinnamon-cured red onions and a lime-marinated cabbage-and-radish ensalada".
I provided the link above to the recipe as posted by Tasting Table but had a few changes as written below. The meal was a huge success. While Cochonita Pibil is a popular Mexican dish, when served with guacamole and a quality tequila, your favorite margharita or Mexican beer, it is well suited for a romantic meal for two. Spicy, colorful and easily eaten with your hands, makes this a delicious "sexy" food to share with your loved one.
Note: I learned from my friends who lived in Mexico that corn tortillas are often made in the microwave, not heated in a skillet as directed below. Of course either way is fine, however, the microwave allows you to do more tortillas quickly. The trick is to stack 3 tortillas (has to be three for some reason) wrapped in a (dry) paper towel and to microwave it for 30 - 40 seconds. Doing this longer could result in hard/crispy tortillas, so do a test and adjust according to your microwave. As soon as they are done, start platting your dish and put in your next set of 3.
Recipe adapted from Tasting Table / Mateo Granados, Mateo's Cocina Latina, Healdsburg, CA
Yield: 6 - 8 servings
- 1/2 cup annatto-seed paste (also called achiote paste)
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 heaping Tablespoons Chipotle peppers in sauce (from can)
- Kosher salt
- 1 small package banana leaves (substitute aluminum foil if unavailable)*
- 1 four-pound pork butt (no bone) or pork shoulder (bone in) (FYI: both cuts are shoulder cuts)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced and cut in 2" strips or shredded
- 1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced
- Juice of 2 limes
- Kosher salt
- 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 package high-quality corn tortillas
- Make the pork: Preheat the oven to 375˚. In a medium bowl, whisk the annatto-seed paste with the vinegar and 3 cups of warm water. Season with salt and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. (I did not strain liquid, I used it all).
- If using a Le Creuet, place onions in the middle of the pot and place pork on top of the onions. Pour the sauce over the pork, add the garlic cloves, onion and cinnamon-stick pieces, cover, and place in oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours if using pork butt no bone. 4 - 4 1/2 hours if using pork shoulder with the bone in.
- If not using a Le Crueset, Line a roasting pan with the banana leaves (or aluminum foil), leaving enough space hanging over the rim to wrap the leaves around the pork shoulder. Place the pork shoulder on the banana leaves and pour the strained sauce over it. Add the garlic cloves, onion and cinnamon-stick pieces and if using leaves or foil, wrap the leaves over the pork. Cover the pork with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours if using pork butt no bone. 4 - 4 1/2 hours if using pork shoulder with the bone in.
- Make the ensalada: Toss the cabbage and radishes together with the lime juice. Season with salt and set aside.
- Make the cured onions: In a medium bowl, combine the red onions, vinegar, cinnamon sticks and salt. Set aside to cure while the pork is cooking.
- When the pork is finished, remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Tortillas: While the pork is resting, microwave or toast the tortillas in a hot skillet.
- Place two tortillas on a plat.
- Serve warm with pieces of pork, the cabbage salad and the cured onions.
- Top with some of the sauce the pork cooked in.
- Serve with Guacamole and chips.