Category Archives: Pork~Cerdo

Achiote Pork Tenderloin~ Rojo y Verde

The goal in mind is to utilize as many of the reserved pantry and refrigerator foods on a weekly basis. Quite a while back, my friend Kim was nice enough to bring me back some hard to find Mexican food items. Besides the whole two pounds of these soft and aromatic chile ancho pods, he also brought back a couple  bricks of achiote paste, in both red and green. The red one, popular in the Yucatan,  I am very familiar with and had used it in many recipes, such as cochinita pibil, al pastor and various chicken recipes. It does not have a strong flavor, but is mostly used for it’s distinct bright red color. But the green one, I had never come across.  I finally remembered to bring it out and give it a try. I was looking for something different for these pork tenderloin and I am happy I remembered the achiote. We are still at the beginning of the summer and I have lost count how many times we have fired up that charcoal grill. Lol! Still learning and loving it.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin~ Achiote Verde

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Red and GreenThe Green Achiote~Ingredients that make up Achiote Verde:  Allspice, black pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, water, salt, vinegar, cornmeal and sodium benzotate (as preservative).

Achiote Pok Tenderloin-Red and GreenThe Red Achiote~Ingredients that make up Achiote Rojo:Ground annatto seeds, spices and tomatoes

For the Brine
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon chile flakes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of salt or to taste

*You Need, pork tenderloin.The package I purchase comes with two small tenderloin. Each weighing a little more than a pound each.

Pork Tenderloin in a BrineThese were the tenderloins after I took them out of the brine.

Pork Tenderloin-Red and Green AchioteBoth the red and green achiote paste are available through MexGrocer online.

For Red Achiote Marinade
2 tablespoons red achiote paste
1/4 white onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 red fresno peppers, roughly chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
2 tablespoons adobo from chipotles
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or any mild flavored oil

Achiote Rojo-Red Achiote/Annatto

For Green Achiote Marinade
2 tablespoons gree achiote paste
2 green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 serrano peppers, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or nay mild flavored oil

Achiote Verde-Green Achiote


1. In a saucepan, add 1 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium. Add garlic, onion, chile flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Add water, peppercorns, bayleaves and salt. Heat to medium and cook just to dissolve the salt and infuse the water with flavor of aromatics. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Place tenderloin in a container. Mix the seasoned water with the remaining 3 cups water. Stir to combine and pour over the pork making sure they are covered with water. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible leave them for 2 days.

3. Remove pork from the brine and pat dry 30 minutes before you cook it. Prepare your outdoor grill for indirect cooking at moderate heat. Season the tenderloins with fresh cracked pepper. Divide the achiote marinades in half.Then divide them in half again, so you have 4 small bowls. Take one bowl of the red and one of the green and generously brush each tenderloin. Reserve the remaining achiote marinade.

4. Bush grates with oil and place pork on indirect side, the cool side of gril. Close the lid and let cook for 20 to 25 minutes. I like to baste the pork a few more times while it finishes cooking. Take the remaining marinade (red and green) and brush each tenderloin, making sure you keep the lid closed in between. After about 35 minutes, I start checking the temperature of pork in the thickest part. Once the pork reaches about 140 to 143 degrees, I move them over to the direct (hot) side of grill and baste and turn one more time just for a few minutes. Pull from heat onto plate. Tent with foil paper and let rest for 10 minutes. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

For Oven Method: Brine the pork as directed. Season with pepper and using a heavy dutch oven pot, sear the pork on all sides until brown. Baste each one with the achiote marinades. Cover and roast in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Check the temperature after 30 minutes. All ovens vary. When the internal temperature has reach 145 degrees, baste and place under broiler for a few minutes.

Achiote Rojo y Verde

Both these marinades can be frozen for future recipes. They preserve well with the added vinegar.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Rojo y Verde

Learning to cook with indirect heat on my charcoal grill works out great for the summer months when it’s too warm to turn on the oven.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin-Red and Green

For a moist tenderloin, I like to pull them off the grill when they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. 

Achiote Pork Tenderloin

After tenderloin has chilled overnight, I like to slice it as thin as possible. I then store it in 1/2 pound portions using freezer bags. I will use the pork for tacos, enchiladas, burritos, sandwiches and Asian style noodle soup.

Achiote Pork Tenderloin

On the first night, I served the sliced tenderloin with rice and a chimichurri inspired garnish.

Pork Tenderloin in Salsa Verde

One of the nights, I seared some of the pork tenderloin slices and then braised them in salsa verde.

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas~Testing Recipes

Recently I was asked to create a pizza with some unique toppings. Without getting too crazy, I decided to search my pantry and refrigerator for what I had on hand. I found some baked ham in the freezer, some pork tenderloin slices and all kinds of cheese. First thing that came to mind when I saw the ham and pork tenderloin was a Cubano sandwich!! I have been experimenting with adding some bicarbonate to yeast dough for and extra fluffly and airy results. So this was the perfect chance to try it out on the pizza dough recipe that I use all the time. Challenge accepted! Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a pantry full of leftovers, like me, stop you from trying this recipe. Next time you cook any kind of pork chops, tenderloin or roast, just set a pound aside. Purchase some pizza dough from your local pizzaria and precooked ham and you are all set! I just have to add that this was the best pizza dough I have ever made! Who knew??


Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

1 pizza dough recipe with added picot (0.17 oz)
1/3 cup garlic mojo (see end of post for recipe)
1 full cup baked ham, diced
1 pound cooked carnitas. chopped small
2 dill pickle spears, sliced thin
 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
More garlic mojo
1 1/2 cups muenster cheese, shredded
1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan shredded
Fresh oregano for garnish


1. Grease pan, add  add a light dusting of cornmeal. Cornmeal is not listed but I did use about 1/4 cup.

2. Place dough onto pan with cornmeal and using your hands shape dough into a 12 inch pizza, thick on the edges.

3. Layer  onto the pizza the ingredients in order listed

4. Bake on bottom rack of a preheated 500 degree oven for 14 minutes. Move to middle shelf and bake for another 4 to 5 minutes. Let rest before slicing. Yields 4 servings


For Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough-Cubano Pizza

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 cup warm water, 105 degrees
3 cups all purpose flour, sifted (I used bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

**1 (0.17) packet of Picot bicarbonate, optional

Tips~ My secret to a light and airy dough is a packet of Mexican bicarbonate Picot (0.17 oz) or you can use 1 Alka Seltzer tablet. Just make sure you crush it into a powder form before you add them to the mix. This tip provided by MarisolPink on youtube. 

Piiza Dough-Cubano Pizza


Cubano Pizza with Carnitas


Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

Tips~ When you add the mojo sauce to the crust, don’t spread it out like I did or the garlic will burn under that high heat. You can still brush the crust with some extra olive oil.


1. To prepare the dough, stir and dissolve the yeast with the water and honey in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. After 10 minutes. Add the salt, oil, and 1 cup of flour, stir until well combined.  Add the bicarbonate  to the flour. Gradually add in the rest of the flour until dough forms.  You may not need all the flour, especially if you sift it. I used almost all 3 cups of flour, left some for later.

3. Transfer the dough to a glass bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 40  to 60 minutes.

4. After it rises, gently punch down and knead on a lightly floured surface. Now you can divide the dough into  two to four equal parts or you can prepare one large thick crust pizza.. Knead it with your hands to form a smooth dough ball. Transfer a plate and let rise for another 20 minutes. If not going to use right away, wrap it tightly refrigerate it or freeze it for a later time.

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas


Quick Carnitas

Quick Carnitas

1 pound cooked tenderloin, chopped small
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon chile de arbol powder  or chipotle powder
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon manteca or oil

 Add the pork, lime juice, orange juice, oregano, chile powder and pepper to a skillet. Cover and heat to medium. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated, add the manteca and cook just until brown and crispy looking in most spots. Remove from heat. I did not add any salt, but you could add a pinch if you like.


Quick Garlic  Mojo Sauce

Quick Garlic Mojo Sauce For Pizza

1/3 cup roasted garlic or store bought roasted garlic in oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Add all the ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt. Flavor will improve over time so you may want to prepare it the day ahead.

Cubano Pizza with Carnitas

Cochinita Pibil~Slow Roasted Pork in Banana Leaves

What to do when it’s raining out and you can’t grill? The next best thing is a low and slow roasted meal that fills your whole house with delicious aromas. On today’s blog post, I prepared a bone in pork shoulder/butt that was almost 10 pounds and taking up way too much room in my freezer. I knew going into this that from start to finish, I was looking at a good 14 hours. But I also knew that it would be worth it in the end.  This dish is most commonly known as cochinita pibil, but is also known as cochinita con achiote or puerco pibil. Made popular in the Yucatan Peninsula with it’s signature flavors of sour/bitter orange and distint color from the achiote. The traditional way is to roast a whole suckling pig, but most commonly prepared by home cooks with a pork shoulder/butt roast. The acidity of the sour orange juice helps break down and tenderize what could be a tough cut of meat. The results are this fall off the bone tender shreds of pork just perfect for those warm corn tortillas.  Sour oranges are not easy to come by, so fortunate for me, a few of the local markets carry a ready made sour orange marinade that can be added to freshly toasted spices and achiote that comes pretty close to the real deal. 


Cochinita Pibil~Slow Roasted Pork Butt/Sholder in an Achiote-Sour Orange Sauce

Cochinita Pibil~Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder/Butt

Cochinita PibilTips~ Instead of the traditional black beans on the side, I chose to serve mine with a roasted beet salad which is delicious when tossed with the rice.


For Marinade
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 teaspoons mexican oregano
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed chile de arbol or piquin
4 to 5 whole cloves
1 inch piece of mexican cinnamon stick

Toasting Spices for Cochinita Pibil


Preparing Marinade for Cochinita Pibil

Ingredients Continued..

1 1/2 cups Badia Sour Orange
1/3 cup olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 oz. achiote paste, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small sweet onion, chopped
salt to taste (I added 1 1/2  tsps.)

Tips~ If you cannot find the achiote paste, 3 to 4 tablespoons of achiote powder may be substituted. 

Toasted and Ground Spices for Cochinita  Pibil


Marinade/Sauce for Cochinita Pibil




Cochinita Pibil~Achiote, Sour Orange Marinade

Tips~ The Badia brand sour orange is pretty close to using real sour oranges and less expensive than purchasing fresh oranges, lemons and limes that may not always be very juicy. But if you have the good quality produce available, for every orange squeezed, I add 1 lemon or lime.

You will also need
8 to 10 pounds pork shoulder/butt, I trimmed off some of the fat on top
*I used bone in almost 10 pound shoulder
1 pound package of banana leaves
Foil paper
Large roasting pan with lid

Tips~ Before you start, make sure that the pork is not frozen. Bring to room temperature for at least 40 to 50 minutes before cooking.

Cochinita Pibil~Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder/Butt


1. Combine the first 7 ingredients, dry spices, in a skillet and toast at medium/low heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Stirring now and then so they do not burn. Transfer to grinder(coffee grinder) and process until you have a fine ground. Set aside. I have a coffee grinder that I only use for spices.

2. To the blender, add ground spices, sour orange, olive oil, achiote, garlic, onion and salt to taste. Blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt, set aside. I chose to roast my pork right away instead of marinating overnight. But, that is up to you.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line the bottom of roasting pan with foil paper, fill with about 6 to 7 cups of water. Season the water with 1 to 2 teaspoon of salt. Place a few layers of banana leaves so that they extend outside of pan on all sides. Place pork, fat side up into pan.  Take a sharp knife and cut one inch slits over the top of roast. Pour marinade/sauce evenly over pork and massage into pork.

4. Cover tightly with any remaining banana leaves. Cover with more foil paper. Cover with lid and place on top rack positioned in the center of oven. Imediately reduce temperature to 225 degrees F. Let roast slowly for the next 8 hours. Check for water level halfway through. After the 8th hour, I raised the heat to 325 degrees F. and roasted for another 4 hours or until it was fall off the bone tender.

5. Remove from oven and let rest for a good hour before serving. After removing bone and extra fat, there was about 5 3/4 pounds of meat. I served what I needed and packaged the rest in 1 pound portions in quart size freezer bags. Don’t forget to label and date. Serve with warm corn tortillas, Mexican rice, black beans, habanero-garlic salsa and pickled red onions.

Cocinita Pibil Wrapped in Banana Leaves


Cochinita Pibil


Cochinita Pibil


Cochinita Pibil

It is traditional to serve cochinita pibil with a roased habanero salsa and pickled red onions


Roasted Garlic-Garlic Salsa

Roasted Habanero-Garlic Salsa

6 to 8 habanero, roasted
2 cloves garlic, roasted
Juice of 5 key limes
1/4 to 1/4 cup water
salt to taste

Remove stems from habanero. Leave skins on the garlic. Roast  all on a comal or nonstick skillet at medium heat for 15 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to blender, add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  

Roasted Habanero-Garlic Salsa


Sour Orange Pickled Red Onions

Sour Orange Pickled Red Onions

Tips~ Instead of using more lime, I used some of the leftover sour orange to marinate and quick pickle my onions. I also like adding oregano, chile piquin and fresh green chile. They are all optional. The longer they sit, the more pink in color they will become.

1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeño, seeded and julienned
1/2 teaspoon chile piquin, crushed
1/2 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1/3 to 1/2 cup sour orange (Badia brand leftover)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Let marinate for a few hours, stirring now and then.