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Chef Fig’s Cochinita Pibil

Chef Fig’s Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibil is a traditional Mayan dish from the Yucatan. Cochinita means small pig or suckling pig and Pibil has to do with the cooking method. A Píib is an earth oven, essentially, a hole in the ground lined with stones. A fire is made and the meat is buried wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted overnight.  The meat is marinated in achiote or annatto paste, aromatics and sour Seville oranges. The result is a tender and succulent meat that is best served with fresh corn tortillas and spicy pickled red onions.
Since I can’t really dig a hole where I live, I opt for a Dutch oven and my offset smoker as a Píib. I can get the annatto paste at my local Tienda but the Seville oranges are almost impossible to find, so I use a combo of grapefruit, orange and lime juice to mimic the sour orange profile. I also use a healthy dose of Melinda’s Fire Roasted Garlic and Habanero. It brings more roasted garlic flavor and spice to the meat and we like it spicy.
I serve mine with homemade corn tortillas, spicy pickled red onions, lime wedges and a little shredded queso fresco. The queso fresco is optional and not traditional, but I love the salty bite it adds. 
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Created by: Chef Fig

Ingredients

Meat and marinade

  • 1 pork shoulder 5-7 lbs
  • 4-6 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 1 mexican cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp mexican oregano
  • 3 tbsp Annatto seed/achiote paste use the powder if the paste isn’t available
  • 2 tbsp Melinda’s Fire Roasted Garlic and Habanero Pepper Sauce
  • 1 orange juiced
  • 1 grapefruit juiced
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 banana leaves wiped clean
  • ½ white onion thinly slied
  • 2 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • kosher salt

Pickeled Red Onions

  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 habanero peppers seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup orange juice fresh squeezed if possible
  • ¼ cup grapefruit juice fresh squeezed if possible
  • ¼ cup lime juice fresh squeezed if possible
  • ¼ cup white vinagar

To Serve

  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges optional
  • queso fresco shredded, optional

Instructions

  • Cut the pork into large chunks (3-4 inch cubes), this allows the marinade to penetrate the pork well during cooking. Salt all the cubed pieces and allow to rest in a bowl while you make the marinade.
  • Place the cloves, cumin seed, cinnamon stick, black pepper corns and allspice in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Toast them until you it becomes fragrant, be careful not to burn. Transfer to blender. Now toast the garlic cloves and transfer to the blender.
  • Add juices to the blender along with the oregano, charred garlic, achiote paste, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and blend well until the mixture is smooth.
  • Clean your banana leaves and warm them in the microwave or the oven, this helps soften them and makes them easier to work with. Lay 2 leaves down and another 2 in the other direction to help form a pouch. Place your meat in the center. Add bay leaves, tomato slices, bell pepper slices and onion slices to the top of your meat pile and fold the leaves over to form a package. Place inside a large Dutch oven and refrigerate overnight if possible, otherwise, it can go directly on the smoker at 250 degrees for 4 hours. Remove from smoker and place in the oven at 225 degrees for 2-3 more hours until meat is tender (check each additional hour, it is ready when the meat is fork tender).
  • Remove the bay leaves and place the meat and the juices is a serving dish and shred with a fork. Serve with fresh corn tortillas, pickled red onions, lime and shredded queso fresco. You can also serve it with stewed beans and rice, fried or baked ripe plantain and tortillas.

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