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
Tips~ 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
It is traditional to serve cochinita pibil with a roased habanero salsa and pickled red onions
Roasted Garlic-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.
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.