Puerco Pibil - Johnny Depp Killed For This!

Puerco Pibil, also known as Cochinita Pibil, is a slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula.  Typically the marinade is heavy on acid, flavored with achiote (ground annatto seeds), and the pork is slow-roasted in banana leaves.  The Hubs and I have been making this for years, ever since we saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico.  In the movie, Johnny Depp's character orders Puerco Pibil everywhere he goes and murders any cook who makes it too well "in order to maintain balance." The movie's director, Robert Rodriguez, gives a little how-to as a bonus feature.

I had a bit of an adventure in the making of this recipe for the blog.  First of all, the market where I usually buy my achiote doesn't carry it anymore, as I found after two long trips to two of their locations.  The second location, however, had annatto seeds.  I figured I could just grind them up and have a better, fresher achiote, right?

I don't have a spice grinder so I plopped two bags of annatto seeds in my food processor with a smug grin on my face.  I'm so smart - I can grind my own and have killer fresh achiote.  Take that!

The food processor sounded like a dying moped and after several minutes of grinding, there was about 3 pinches of powder.  Apparently, annatto seeds are harder than diamonds and you need an industrial sized mac-daddy grinder to do any damage.  Oh, and did I mention how the small amount of powder I did get stained everything in sight?  I had to soak, scrape, soak, scrape my food processor bowl all damn day long.

That takes us to the following day.  I google mapped "international market", which turned out to be a teeny tiny store with grocery items from Uzbekistan and such places.  (I purchased preserved walnuts...)

No achiote there...

I headed to my last resort market and lo and behold! They had achiote and lots of other yummy Hispanic foods and ingredients.  I picked up a bag of Masa Harina and a chuck of sweet potato candy while I was at it.

The below recipe is one The Hubs and I adapted from Rodriguez's recipe.  We don't use banana leaves anymore because I'm too lazy.  The slow-cooker is the way to go.

Let me re-cap:  If you make your Puerco Pibil well enough Johnny Depp might shoot you, don't eat preserved walnuts straight from the jar, and whatever you do, buy achiote, the ground version of annatto seeds.

Do NOT buy whole annatto seeds (as pictured).  Buy achiote (scroll up for pic).

Puerco Pibil

6 jalapeños, or 2-3 habaneros, chopped (with or without seeds)
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
3 T. Achiote (ground annatto seeds)
2 T. cumin
1 T. black pepper
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. white vinegar
4 T. kosher salt, or 2 T. table salt
Juice of 5 limes
generous splash tequila
5 lb. pork butt, shoulder, or picnic roast (boneless or bone-in), trimmed of big fat cap/pockets

To serve:
Hot cooked white rice
Diced fresh tomatoes
Chopped fresh cilantro

In bowl of food processor, blend the jalapeño peppers with the garlic until minced. Add the remaining ingredients (except pork) and process until well combined.

Place meat in slow-cooker insert.  Pour marinade over pork.  You have two options now.  You can refrigerate the meat in the insert overnight or start cooking right away.

Cook on low 9-11 hours until pork falls apart.

Serve over white rice, topped with diced tomatoes and fresh cilantro.  Tapatio (hot sauce) recommended.

Recipe for a delicious way to eat the leftover Puerco Pibil coming soon...


Peggy said...

Yum! This sounds delicious. Oh and just a question, you're from Louisville, right? Creation Gardens (if you haven't been there, you've got to check it out!) has a wide selection of spices, and I'm pretty sure they carry this, if you're close to downtown. =)

Shannon Marie said...

Peggy: I've not been to Creation Gardens but I went on the website and it looks great! I'm not downtown but we do go there quite a bit. I'll have to make this a stop on our next adventure! Thanks for the tip!

Katie McGarry said...

I love the story associated with making this dish. Very funny and I'm glad you were able to find the spice!

Michael said...

Looks like a delicious recipe. The pictures made me hungry and ready to head to the kitchen to try this for lunch.
Thanks and Regards

blenders and food processors

Brandy said...

This is on my list of "must make" now! I usually buy a big pork loin as part of my monthly shopping and other than dropping it in the crock pot with some bbq sauce or taco seasoning I don't do anything with it! This sounds great!

Anonymous said...

You and I...we are sisters. Sisters of the puerco pibil. I just did a post over at my blog on this AMAZING dish and was happy to find you. Here is to the sisterhood of the puerco pibil. May Johnny Depp never find us!

Shannon Marie said...

cavewomancafe, I agree! I looked at your post on this most amazing dish and it seems we had many of the same thoughts! Cheers to Puerco Pibil, one of the greatest culinary inventions of all time!

Thanks everyone for the comments - I love hearing from you!

Anonymous said...

It's a much better dish if you grind all the spices yourself! I have one coffee grinder labeled as dedicated to spices and because it's metal it doesn't have the discoloration issue.