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Crockpot Cochinita Pibil:Yucatecan Pork

Crockpot Cochinita (Puerco) Pibil: Yucatecan-style Pork with a Telenovela Twist

Any special prep?

Wash your banana leaves.  I put mine on a cookie sheet, pour in some warm water, and used my hands to rub off any residue before rinsing them under running water.  Pat them dry for good measure.

Achiote Paste – you can buy it, but it is better to make your own:
  • Store-bought achiote paste (which is called for in the recipe) typically includes “stuff you may not want to eat” – like preservatives, MSG and food dyes.
  • Home-made achiote paste can be made easily by grinding whole annatto, cumin, allspice, pepper, nutmeg, and then adding in water until it forms a paste.  If these are not spices you’ll use regularly, consider buying them in bulk – Whole Foods, health food stores, and sometimes the healthy food aisles of your grocery store have a bulk spice display.
Achiote Paste
Pickled Onions – these are considered essential to the overall flavor of the dish.  The tanginess complements the pork’s flavor nicely.  A recipe, also provided by Audrey, is listed below.
Citrus – The acidity in this dish typically comes from Seville, or bitter, oranges.  If you have access to them, great.  Otherwise, a combination of sweet and tart citrus fruit juice  - as in the following recipe – works just fine.
Citrus Fruit
# of Ingredients – the list seems long, but it is actually a very quick marinade to make.  Once it is ready, simply soak the meat overnight, line the crockpot with banana leaves (optional), and pour meat and marinade in to cook for the day.  Voila!

2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 ounces fresh orange juice
4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
4 pounds pork Boston butt (pork shoulder roast)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3.5 ounces achiote paste (preferably homemade)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 pound banana leaves, thawed if previously frozen
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
5 bay leaves

In a bowl, mix the lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice and set aside. (This is to approximate the flavor of the Seville (sour) orange or naranja agria, the citrus traditionally used in this dish. If such oranges are available, use 12 ounces of their juice instead).
Trim exterior fat off pork. Cut the pork into 10 to 12 pieces if possible – or cut deep cuts. Rub the pieces lightly with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside in a large plastic bag.

Cut the achiote paste into pieces, and slowly stir in the fruit juices to dissolve. Add the thyme, oregano, garlic, pepper, cumin, paprika and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour the marinade on the meat. Marinate in the refrigerator sealed in the plastic bag for at least 4 to 6 hours or, preferably, overnight – turn at least once.
Thaw the banana leaves if frozen, rinse and pat dry. Cover the bottom and sides of the crock-pot with the banana leaves, overlapping the leaves and letting them spill over the sides of the pot.
Place the meat in the pot and cover with the sliced red onion and bay leaves. Pour over the remaining marinade and lay a banana leaf piece over the top. Fold over the banana leaves that spilled over the sides of the pot to wrap the meat. Cover the top of the crock-pot.
Cook on low for 6 hours or more until the meat has reached 190+ degrees internal temp. 190+ is required for the pork to be “pullable”.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the Pickled Red Onions – see recipe.
Unwrap banana leaves and scrape the red onions and bay leaves off the top – reserve for later use (maybe cook down more to soften onions if needed). Remove meat from crock-pot and let stand covered lightly with foil for 30 minutes. Then shred the meat and remove the bone.
While meat is standing, pour the remaining juices from the crockpot into a saucepan and simmer to reduce to about half. Taste and add salt if needed. Pour over the shredded meat.
Serve with pickled red onions and bottled habaƱero sauce.
Recipe for the essential condiment Pickled Red Onions follows. It’s not Cochinita Pibil without it.

Pickled Red Onions for Cochinita Pibil

1 large red onion
1/2 teaspoon oregano
5 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
juice 1/2 lime
juice 1/2 orange


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