Traditional recipes

Pibil-Style Pork

Pibil-Style Pork


  • 1 medium onion, quartered through core
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 4 1/2-to-5-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
  • 1 13x9x2-inch disposable aluminum pan
  • Yucantecan Pickled Onions (click for recipe)
  • Habanero-Tomato Salsa (click for recipe)

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to dry skillet and cook until browned in spots on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes for onion and 4 minutes for garlic. Core and coarsely chop onion. Transfer onion and garlic to blender. Add orange juice and next 7 ingredients to blender; puree until smooth. Transfer to large resealable plastic bag; add pork. Seal bag, releasing excess air; turn to coat. Chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day, turning occasionally.

  • For charcoal grill, light 30 briquettes in chimney starter; heat until ash-gray. Remove top rack from grill and place 1 disposable aluminum pan on 1 side of grill. Pour briquettes onto opposite side of grill. Return rack to grill.

  • For 2-burner gas grill, remove rack and place 1 disposable aluminum pan on 1 side of grill. Return rack; light grill (medium heat) on side opposite pan.

  • For 3-burner gas grill, remove rack and place 1 disposable aluminum pan in center of barbecue. Return rack and light grill on both sides of pan (not under pan).

  • For all grills, brush rack with oil. Place pork with some marinade still clinging on rack above pan. Close lid; insert thermometer into hole in lid. Cook pork until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 195°F, about 3 1/2 hours, maintaining grills internal temperature at around 350°F by opening and closing vents, adjusting gas grill's burners, or adding more hot briquettes from chimney starter to charcoal grill.

  • Transfer pork to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Pull out and discard bone and any large lumps of fat. Using 2 forks or large knife, shred the pork; transfer to platter. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of drippings from aluminum pan in barbecue, if desired.

  • Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side. Serve pork with tortillas, Yucatecan Pickled Onions, and Habanero-Tomato Salsa.

Recipe by Steven Raichlen,Reviews Section

Shredded Pork in Achiote Sandwich

During the final months of the year, I often think of the dishes that are made in Mexico to celebrate the holidays and enjoy time together with family during the cold season. Most of the time, pork is the main ingredient in these dishes. It’s very versatile, and on top of having a delicious flavor on its own, it also works very well with the added flavors of marinades, rubs, and seasonings. One particular pork dish that comes to mind is Cochinita Pibil, from the Yucatan Peninsula.

Banana leaves are optional, because I haven't found any locally yet. Take it easy on Habanero peppers. HOT!HOT!!HOT. Preground spices can be used in place of the whole spices, but the brilliant flavor of freshly ground spices really makes this dish what it is! (Editor's note: It may be helpful to read the hints left in the reviews of this recipe. Another suggestion, given to us by Dennis from Rawlins, Wyoming, is to add brown sugar to the marinating mix, use limes instead of lemons, and only cook 3 to 3 1/2 hours in aluminum foil.)

I use this to make shredded pork tacos and as the base for pulled pork. The only difference is for pulled pork I do 2 hrs in the oven at 275 and finish it on the pellet smoker for 2 hrs at 225, then mix it with bbq sauce works well with all types, Carolina, Alabama white, or sweet and dpicy!

Great recipe. A few things I’ve learned making it multiple times.
1) Amount of lemons is dependent on how juicy your lemons are and the type. Keep it to less than 3/4 cup. And, sure if you have seville oranges use them instead of lemons and orange juice because that is what you are trying to mimic from the original Mexican.
2) You can buy annatto seeds on Amazon – just do it!
3) I put a banana or two in the blender instead of using banana leaves. Good taste and thickens the sauce.
4) I cut salt back to 2 teaspoons. You can add more later, but, you cannot take it out.
5) To really put it over the top, use Umeboshi vinegar (also known as plum vinegar) for half the vinegar.

I’ve made this several times and really enjoy the process and results. The only adjustment I’ve made it cutting the lemon juice in half the first time I followed the recipe to the letter and felt the meat came out noticeably sour. I most recently made it for a friends-and-family potluck with this is mind and it went over extremely well.

I made this recipe for my vegetarian wife using Tofu. The amount of sauce in the recipe is enough for 2 to 3 10-oz bricks of tofu (get the extra firm type). Slice the tofu into cubes (1/2 inch for small bites is good), then marinate for 3 hours in a ziplock. Line a deep dish glass baking pan (for example, a bread pan) with banana leaf. One big banana leaf cross section will line the bottom of the pan, and also wrap around the top. Pour in the tofu and the marinade, wrap and cover with banana leaf, then cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 1 hour at 350F. Serve from the hot baking dish with a large spoon – the banana adds a nice presentation.

I modified the marinade recipe slightly:
Substitute 1 Red Fresno, 1 Jalepeno, 1 Serrano for 2 Habanero peppers (deseed and remove ribs)
Instead of 5 lemons, use 2 lemons and 3 limes
Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar

For crispy tofu: after baking, remove the tofu cubes to a preheated frying pan with just a bit of the marinade, and fry at high heat for 30 seconds, flip over, and fry for another 30 seconds. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinade in a saucepan, and add a small amount of corn starch to slightly thicken. Serve the tofu with the sauce drizzled over the top.

Serve with barely steamed (just until a slight color change) broccoli florets – the broccoli goes nicely with the pibil spices.

The proper Mayan recipe is known as Cochinta pibil because it uses a whole suckling pig. The version above is based around the recipe given in the film ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ where if Johnny Depp liked what he was served he would shoot the chef! I too got the recipe from the film but instantly saw errors why use orange juice and vinegar? Use bitter Seville oranges or mix up fresh oranges with lime juice. I would not add the hot chili –but the annatto (look for achiote) and banana leaves are essential. Annatto is not just a color, as said earlier, and the taste of it and the musty banana leaves adds a unique flavor that is all but destroyed by the hot chili. If you want hot cook another recipe, this one is too good to wreck! The shot of tequila can also be left out.

Long marinating helps, 24 hours is good but here is an idea to get that long cooking time in and save money – a hay box. Cover your pibil in banana leaves then foil, bring it to a boil on the oven, then quickly place it in a box filled with crumpled newspaper (small air pockets are essential) so it is surrounded. Add other insulation around that and leave it for five hours or more. It will slowly cook, no fear of burning and will still be very hot. This also sort of mimics the original idea where the dish was cooked in a pit, hence the name.

This is now my new favorite recipe. Its easy, its fun and it wow’s your friends.

1. Use Rubber Gloves when cutting the peppers. (it makes your hands feel much better

2. Cook some rice to serve it over (probably been said)

3. Saute some green peppers and onions

4. Throw in some pine apple (it is a good contrast to the spicy)

5. I used the extra bannana leaves as a garnish. I put a small section of leaf on each plate and served the dish on that. It made it look very cool.

6. This goes great with a nice Mexican Cerveza.

7. Save the marinade and freeze it, you can make a really good black bean soup with it.

And that’s about it, its a really easy recipe, you can make it in advance and freeze it if you’d like. I’d suggest going all out with bannana leaves, I decorated the entire dining room with the leaves. It looked awesome.

This not the original recipe. I have been making this since the Movie came out. I can’t get Banana leaves. (Only once) So I get Heavy duty Foil and the Tequila is not only for flavor but is also a tenderizer please use it. You don’t need to let it set before you bake. Do let it set for 10 minutes after. My Whole neighborhood knows when I make it. It Smells Fantastico!

The Robert Rodriguez recipe makes an excellent Pureco Cochinita Pibil, and it has been made several times in our home with slight variations with the number of habaneros. The first few times it was prepared in the oven with excellent results. Then it has been prepared using a crock pot, cooking for 8 hours, also just as good. For the latest atttempt, I used a pressure cooker at 15psi for 40 minutes. It came out wonderful, and FAST!! It’s a great and very versatile recipe!

Banana leaves can most commonly be found in the freezer section of asian markets, I’ve found annatto most easily at hispanic stores…though it’s very helpful to be in a urban area with those populations (even the cub foods by my house has these things)

Find the fresh spices. Use the banana leaves. Search the Robert Rodriguez on YouTube to see how simple it is.
I can never make enough. Over rice with Pickled veggies is the right touch.

A five pound pork shoulder will generally give you more cochinita pibel than you would need for one dinner. There are many delicious ways to use this marinated pulled pork. It does freeze well, but here are a couple of ways to used it the next day without that feeling of eating &ldquoleftovers&rdquo:

It Is a wonderful option for a taco bar, with tortillas (if you are not on a low carb diet), with pickled onions and any other condiments you have on hand

My husband folded our leftover pork into an oven-baked tamale pie that was to die for. It was similar to this harissa tamale pie recipe, but it folded in the leftover pork. Basically it was a box of cornmeal muffin mix with chiles and pork mixed in and baked in the oven (topped with your favorite salsa. Here is a photo&hellip

Cornmeal tamale pie filled with cochinita pibel marinated pork

The best places to get Cochinita Pibil are where people with roots in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula are the cooks.

And, like in Mexico, you may find some of the best versions of this dish at street markets or small Mexican restaurants. In Los Angeles, they are raving about the Cochinita Pibil in Gilberto Cetina's Chichen Itza in the open market space of Mercado La Paloma at 3655 S. Grand Ave #C-6 (Historic South Central District). The slow roasted pork served at this little restaurant is prepared with achiote and Seville orange, garlic and allspice and clove.

Barrio Queen, with several restaurants in the Phoenix area of Arizona, has also been critically-acclaimed for their Cochinita Pibil recipe. In addition to that signature dish, they have over 20 types of tacos and over 500 tequilas.

In Austin, Texas, Fonda San Miguel has a loyal following of customers who love their Cochinita Pibil. Fonda San Miguel provides a beautifully-decorated backdrop for their upscale version of Cochinita Pibil at an upscale price of $23.50 for the entree.

For the ultimate Wahaca feast, you can now recreate our famous pork pibil tacos at home. This iconic dish has been on our menu since day one and is one of Thomasina Miers favourite Mexican street food recipes. It takes a little time, so a perfect recipe for a slow day at home (as if you were doing anything else right now?) and needs a few ingredients that may need some searching at the back of your spice rack. Or check out for online deliveries.

Time: 3 ½ – 4 hours + overnight marinating
Serves 5 (and great for freezing)

For the marinade:
1tsp allspice berries
2tsp ground cumin seeds
½tsp cloves
1tsp peppercorns
100g achiote paste
3tbsp cider vinegar
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
large bunch of fresh oregano or 1tsp dried oregano
3 fresh bay leaves
2tbsp sea salt
3tbsp olive oil
juice of 6 oranges (about 450ml)

For the pork:
1.5kg neck of pork, cut into a few large pieces
1 habañero or Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
25g butter

To make the marinade, warm the spices in a dry frying pan for a few minutes then grind to a fine powder. Place in a blender with the achiote paste, vinegar, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and olive oil and pulse to start breaking up the achiote. Slowly pour in the orange juice with the motor running to get a smooth paste. Pour about a third of the marinade over the pork, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate overnight. Freeze the remaining marinade or keep it fresh for a week in the fridge (and try it with something else, like barbecued chicken).
When you’re ready to cook., preheat oven to 130C/266F/gas 1. Transfer the pork and its marinade to a large casserole dish and add chopped chilli and butter. Bring to a simmer, cover with foil and a tight-fitting lid and cook slowly for 3-4 hours until the pork is soft and falling apart. Serve chunks of pork in deep bowls with rice or steamed potatoes, lots of sauce and piles of pink pickled onions on top.

Crock Pot Maple-Glazed Pork Ribs Recipe


  • 2 racks of pork back ribs, sliced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Place ribs in a crock pot.

Step 2

In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour over ribs in the crock pot. Toss well to coat ribs completely.

Step 3

Cover the crock pot and cook on low-heat setting for 6-8 hours or until ribs are cooked through.

Pollo Pibil

Last December, Daniel and I went to Yucatán. I was swept off my feet by the grandiose nature and history of the old Haciendas, but mostly by the uniqueness of the cuisine. It stands out from the rest of the country with its aromatic, pungent, citrus flavors, charred and toasted ingredients and elements not found anywhere else.

Since at the Institute we established topics for the 2009 program in January and I left Yucatán as a December closing session, by the time class came around I was desperate to share these flavors. What a tortuous self imposed wait!

Of course Pollo Pibil had to be included, as it is one of the most loved dishes of the area. The rest of the menu was built around: Dzotobi-chay tamales, Mexican avocado soup, strained beans, a yellow rice, and old fashioned flan for dessert.

(One of the views inside of Hacienda San José)

Pollo Pibil is made with one of the pillars of Yucatecan cuisine, recado rojo or achiote paste, which can now be found in many stores or online. If you walk into any market in Yucatán, you will see countless stands boasting colorful mountains of the main recados or pastes: black or chilmole, brown or de bistek, green or pepita and red or achiote.

The word Recado translates to message. In a way, each of the recados has a unique combination of ingredients, which makes a distinct bouillon of sorts, that translates a particular message of flavors into the dishes it is being used in.

They will sell you as much as you want...

Or have it ready in previously measured bags…

A couple of things distinguish anything cooked Pibil style…

First is the marinade. With achiote paste as a base, it has a rusty brick-like color and a pungent and sort of permanent flavor. That’s because of the achiote seeds it is made with. Then the paste is mixed with oregano, cumin, allspice, black pepper, salt and charred garlic and diluted with bitter orange, which has a peculiar a flavor, quite different from regular oranges.

Since bitter orange can be hard to come by, many cooks have found substitutes such as a mix of orange juice and vinegar or a mix of different citrus juices. After testing for a while in my kitchen, I found the substitute I like the most to be equal parts of grapefruit, orange and lime juices and white distilled vinegar. The marinade is flavorful and aromatic and, as it has a high acidic content, it tenderizes the meat beautifully.

(A freshly opened bar of achiote paste, posing for my camera so you can take a look)

The second thing that distinguishes a Pibil is the cooking technique, which is what gave it its name. Traditionally, Pibil meats were marinated, wrapped in banana leaves and placed in “Pibs”: roasting pits buried underground layered with stones and pieces of wood. The “Pib” gave the dish a rustic, earthy and ashy feel while the banana leaves infused the meats with a grassy fragrant flavor and kept them moist.

Since it’s not likely that we are going to dig roasting pits on any given workday in our backyards anytime soon, many cooks have tried to find a method that can accomplish similar results. Some wrap the chicken or meat in leaves and cook it in a steam bath in a large covered pot, while others do the same in the oven. However, the dish becomes way too juicy and you are missing that earthy, roasted, ashy flavor. When you cook in an earthen pit, although the chicken is wrapped, the excess moisture escapes through the pit, so the final dish is not that wet.

Here again, restless me, kept testing in the kitchen. And later then, very happy me, found a great and quick method to obtain similar results. First roast the chicken in the oven (detailed recipe below) for that charred earthen flavor with the plus of nice browned skin and a thickening and seasoning of the marinade. Then bundle with banana leaves (if you have them) and/or aluminum foil to give it that final cooking that will make the meat come off the bones.

Chicken Pibil is an absolute hit paired with pickled red onions and a fiery and feisty habanero chile sauce. Yes, its spicy, but it is a welcome shock.

Mayan Pibil Pork

Mix everything but the last 4 items together, rub it into the meat, and let marinate as long as you can stand it (at least overnight). BBQ pork over indirect heat, occasionally basting with orange juice, until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Brown the onions and chiles. Add the tomatoes and cook together until they are warm. Line a large dutch oven with one layer of the banana leaves and put down a layer of the onions, tomatoes, and chile mixture. Put the meat on top of this and top with the rest of the mixture. Cover with more banana leaves. Bake in a 350F oven for 1 1/2-2 hours until the pork is falling off the bone. Shred the meat, put the veggies on the side and serve with tortillas and Negro Modelo. Notes Bbq'ing is not traditional for this dish. Usually it is either grilled or done Pibil-style in a stone pit. But I wanted some smoke flavor and for the meat to develop a "bark" around it. Bbq'ing "low and slow" did both of these and helped to render out a lot of the fat. I used lump char wood and a little oak for flavor. The banana leaves give the dish an unique, earthy flavor. They also hold in a lot of heat and steam, so it's almost like braising the meat. It was really worth the extra effort to find them and just finishing the dish in just a regular dutch oven would not have been as good. I'm sure that you could also wrap the butt in the leaves and (maybe) foil and continue the cooking right on the Bbq. The dish needed more garlic, cumin, and salt. I'd say at least 3 cloves of garlic, 1T of cumin and a 1T of salt. The marinade ended up too thick and tended to burn on the Bbq. I'd up the orange juice to 2 cups and add 1T of lime juice as well. With a thinner marinade, I'd also leave the butt on the Bbq a little longer, maybe 170 or 180 degrees. Not quite to the point where it's falling off the bone, but close.

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How To : Cook puerco pibil or roast pork with Robert Rodriguez

How to cook Puerco Pibil by Robert Rodriguez. This is an excellent spicy breakfast. This is the slow roasted pork as seen is his film Once Upon a Time in Mexico. 5T whole annato seeds 2t whole cumin seeds
1T peppercorns
8 whole allspice seeds
1/2t whole cloves

Grind the above in a spice mill/coffee grinder.

2 habanero chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2T salt
8 cloves garlic

Combine the above with the spice mix in a blender, and puree.

Juice of 5 lemons splash tequila 5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag and mix well. Line a 9x13 pan with banana leaves add the pork mixture fold over the leaves to cover, then cover tightly with foil. Bake 4 hours at 325 serve over rice.

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