Tacos de Cochinita Pibil (Achiote-Roasted Pork Tacos)


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Well, I did it again.  I was at a restaurant, ordered something unique, and found myself on a mission to recreate it at home.  My family and I went to our local restaurant called That Little Mexican Cafe.  Not only do they have the best grilled scallop appetizer that even my son loves, but they have a guy that does balloon crafts for the kids on Sunday nights.  So, what better place to go to! Now if I could have combined a margarita with that…

The menu had Cochinita Pibil… something I had never heard of, nor tried.   It was a slow-roasted pork dish, served with pickled onions, and corn tortillas.  It sounded intriguing, and happened to go along with any pregnancy cravings I had at that particular moment. 

I couldn’t put my finger on what the flavor was, but I loved it.  So, on to my mission…

I googled it and found several recipes, then I googled a crock pot version of it to know how I could make this on a weeknight.  So, I kind of combined a few and this was what I came up with.  My husband raved that it was “awesome”, and even my son ate pork, wrapped in a tortilla, with pickled onions.  I was a happy Mom!

I set out salsa, cheese, and sour cream but no one touched it.  It was perfect as-is (since that’s how it appears you’re supposed to serve it).

I did grind all of the spices in my little spice grinder. However, you could use pre-ground. Also, I’ve heard that they sell an achiote paste pre-made (but I sure had fun making mine!). This was so easy, I made the spices & marinade & onions the night before. I made the pork in the crock pot while I was at work. When I got home, shred and serve! Easy easy!

Pickled Red Onions

1 small red onion
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano (I used regular oregano)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz cider vinegar
water to cover

Peel and slice the onion. Blanch in boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain and place in a small bowl.

Coursely grind seasonings. Add to the onions.

Add garlic, cider vinegar, and enough water to just cover the onions. Stir and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Achiote Seasoning Paste
2 tbsp achiote (annatto) seeds (I found a packet of these at a Hispanic grocer for 99 cents)
2 tsp ground allspice (preferably freshly ground)
1 tsp ground black pepper (preferably freshly ground)
1 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano (I used regular oregano)
3 tbsp cider vinegar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 generous tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
about 2 ml fresh lime juice

Grind the achiote seeds in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, mix with the allspice, pepper, oregano, and vinegar. Mix until a thick mixture forms.

Chop the garlic small, add the salt, and press into a smooth paste with the side of your knife. Mix in the achiote mixture. Add approximately 2 tbsp water slowly in order to form a spreadable paste.

Add the orange and lime juice. Mix to combine.

Tacos de Cohinita Pibil

2 lb lean boneless pork shoulder
2, 30 x 45 cm pieces of banana leaves (This helps to steam the meat, and also a bit for flavor. Unfortunately I couldn’t find them, so I omitted them. I’ve heard they are either in the produce section or sometimes frozen).
corn tortillas
pickled red onion
cilantro to garnish, optional

Cut the pork into 3 or 4 large chunks. Marinate in the achiote paste a large plastic bag overnight.

In the morning, place the pork and marinade in a crock pot/slow cooker. Add 1 1/2 c water. Cook for 10 hours on low.

Remove from slow cooker and shred/chop meat. Remove liquid and skim off the majority of the fat. Return the meat to the slower cooker. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat, mix, and heat through.

Serve pork with warmed tortillas and top with pickled onions. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

~M

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