Cochinita Pibil

30 Jan

Cochinita Pibil is a recipe I’ve been wanting to try at home for a long time after trying it at Wahaca and has been made possible by the haul of  Mexican ingredients The Man and I brought back from New York. Some girls would have demanded a trip to Tiffany’s; I made sure we visited local stores and markets to pick up some hard to get items, luckily our luggage came in bang on the weight allowance flying home.

A traditional Mexican dish, Cochinita Pibil involves slow cooking pork, or sometimes a whole pig, in a deep red citrusy sauce until it is meltingly tender.

The key ingredient here is Achiote (annato) powder which gives the dish its red colouring, and is also used in much smaller quantities to colour Red Leicester cheese. The recipe I used is a tweaked version of this one from Helen Graves. I love her blog, her recipes have never let me down and always deliver on taste.

I had wanted to use a big slow cooking joint of meat that I could cook for a long time and would leave  plenty of left overs, but in the end I plumped for four pork shoulder steaks and cooked them low and slow.

The smell that filled the flat as it was cooking was insanely good and had The Man hanging round the kitchen looking longingly at the oven. The end result was awesome,  wonderfully juicy and messy to eat piled on tacos and secured the highest level of praise from The Man “a triumph”!


First off make the achiote paste although you can buy a ready-made version at Mex  Grocer.

2 tablespoons achiote powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Pinch black pepper
6 whole allspice
1.5 tablespoons water

It should look something like this,  it is VERY RED but don’t be scared.

To this I added;

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped,

1/2 tsp dried chillies

2 tbsp orange juice and 2 tbsp ( the recipe should use Seville oranges, so no need for the lime but I couldn’t get my hands on any)

I added this along with the meat to the achiote paste and left to marinate in the fridge to a few hours ,although it really deserves to be left for much longer; 24 hrs would be fantastic.

When it’s time to get cooking, pre heat the oven to 150c. In a large pan with a lid brown the pork steaks, reserving the achiote paste. When the pork has a good level of char on each side add the left over paste to the pan along with a further 100ml of water and 100ml orange juice.

Place the lid on the pan and place in the oven for 3 hours checking occasionally and toping up with orange juice if it looks like getting too dry. After 3 hours remove from the oven and shred the meat, it should be so soft it falls apart with pressure from a fork.

We ate them with red onions “pickled” in lime juice and spicy salsa but I wish I’d made guacamole too.

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