Delicious Mexican Cochinita Pibil anyone can make right in the oven with all the luscious flavors of this tangy, vibrant, slow roasted pork dish roasted in citrus and achiote paste. Pair with warm corn tortillas and spicy pickled red onions for the most incredible tacos!
If you are looking for Day of the Dead recipes, this slow-roasted pork dish is a wonderful one to share with family and friends for the holiday.
Cochinita means baby pig and traditionally involves marinating a suckling pig in annatto seeds and citrus juice then roasting it in a pit or pib, a Mayan oven consisting of a hole in the ground lined with hot stones.
This dish is a delicacy from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It tastes incredible, feeds a crowd and lucky for us, can easily be recreated at home in the oven using pork shoulder in place of the suckling pig.
Scroll down to see how easy it is and let the party planning begin.
The Right Dish for the Job
The secret to making fall-apart tender Cochinita Pibil (pronounced ko-chin-ee-ta pee-beel) at home, is to roast it low and slow in the oven.
The only thing you need is a deep roasting pan. For this particular recipe, I used the 9 x 13-inch deep baking dish.
Tips For Making Cochinita Pibil In the Oven
Despite it’s seemingly strange ingredients—banana leaf! achiote seeds!—it’s a perfectly simple dish to prepare.
Those aforementioned unmentionables can easily be found at your local Latin market.
Look for the banana leaves in the produce aisle or frozen food section of your local Latin market. If you buy them frozen, thaw them at room temperature before use.
Rinse banana leaves well before using and if they are really stiff, warm them in a low, 200°F oven until slightly wilted. You can also pass them over a low flame of a gas stove. Be careful not to catch them on fire if you do this method.
The achiote paste can be found in the spice aisle of your local Latin market next to the salt and pepper.
It comes in a rectangular box, and is a brick which should be broken up with your hands before putting in the blender.
Here’s some more pointers for Cochinita success:
- Don’t skip the banana leaves part. They aren’t just for looks, they add flavor and trap in moisture for extra tender meat. You know what a ripe banana smells like? That’s what we’re going for.
- You don’t need to marinate the meat. (Yay!) You slow cook the pork for 6 hours giving it plenty of time to soak up all the delicious flavors.
- Traditional recipes for this Yucatán-Style barbecue pork use bitter orange juice, typically from Seville oranges. If you are lucky enough to find Seville oranges, use 2 1/2 cups of fresh-squeezed Seville sour orange juice instead of the orange + lime juice mixture.
- This is a simple marinade made with store-bought achiote. It tastes great and is easy. Want to spice it up? Add fresh garlic, whole allspice, black peppercorns, and/or cumin to the blender or food processor when making the marinade.
- Even though you wrap the pork in the banana leaves you want to also seal the entire pan tightly with aluminum foil to keep all the steam in.
How to Serve Cochinita Pibil
This deeply flavorful meat makes the best pork tacos.
Traditionally the cooked pork is piled high on warm tortillas with pickled red onions and habanero sauce. This Mexican pulled pork shoulder isn’t spicy on it’s own, but is meant to be eaten with the pickled onions and spicy salsa to suit your tastes.
I’ve combined the two toppings into one by making Spicy Habanero Pickled Onions (see recipe below).
How To Make It In A Crock Pot
I absolutely understand the allure of being able to turn on a slow cooker and walk away. Lucky for us cooking this Cochinita Pibil recipe (also known as Puerco Pibil or Cochinita con Achiote) in a Crock Pot is pretty much the same. Here’s how you’d do it:
- Line the insert of the slow cooker with the banana leaves and place the pork on top.
- Blend the marinade ingredients and pour over the pork.
- Wrap the banana leaves around the pork, tucking them down into the sides of the Crock Pot insert so they don’t unravel.
- Cover with the Crock Pot lid and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
Cochinita Pibil Menu For Día de Muertos
If you are making this for a dinner party for Day of the Dead or anytime of year, I think this menu is definitely the way to go.
The refreshing Paloma cocktail flavors are also reflected in the shortbread cookies that finish the meal.
Take advantage of persimmon season in the fall to make this dramatic salad with persimmons and roasted beets as a side.
- Strawberry-Hibiscus Palomas
- Best Ever Canned Black Beans
- Beet and Persimmon Salad with Candied Peanuts
- Cochinita Pibil Tacos with Spicy Habanero Pickled Onions
- Strawberry-Hibiscus Cookies
Have You Ever Been This Excited To Try Something New?
These brick red tacos enticed me for so long but I always thought they were unobtainable to make at home until now. I hope this recipe has got you excited to search out some new ingredients and give this a try. Let me know how it turns out for you! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram using @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so we can see your handiwork! Happy eating.
Learn more about Pyrex Deep by visiting www.PyrexHome.com!
For the Cochinita Pibil:
- Fresh banana leaves, for wrapping
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 3.5 ounce package Achiote paste
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Spicy Pickled Red Onions:
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 habanero, stemmed, seeds removed, minced
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Warm tortillas
- Cilantro leaves
Heat oven. Heat oven to 300°F and arrange rack in the middle.
Prepare baking dish. Line a Pyrex Deep 9 x 13in baking dish with 2 layers of banana leaves. Place pork shoulder in dish on top of banana leaves.
Wrap pork tightly and roast. Wrap pork with banana leaves and cover the entire dish tightly with foil. Place in oven and cook slowly until pork is very tender, about 4 hours.
To Make the Spicy Pickled Red Onions:
Combine vegetables. Combine onions and habaneros in a medium, heatproof bowl.
Make pickling liquid. Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Let simmer 5 minutes then pour hot pickling liquid over vegetables.
Pickle onions. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until cold.
Shred pork and mix with juices. Remove pork and shred into bite-sized pieces. Discard banana leaves, saving any pan juices that have accumulated on the bottom. Stir meat with pan juices
Serve. Serve in warm tortillas, pickled onions, and fresh cilantro leaves.
Cochinita Pibil can be made up to three days in advance. Shred meat and combine with pan juices then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Rewarm meat and juices in a frying pan over medium heat until warm.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 119mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 41g
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