Chichen Itza cochinita pibil

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Serves 8 to 10
Chichen Itza cochinita pibil

Cochinita pibil


In a spice grinder, grind the peppercorns, cloves, allspice and oregano to a fine powder. In a bowl, combine the spice mixture with the ground annatto seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, garlic and vinegar along with one-fourth cup water; stir until it reaches the consistency of a paste. (Makes about one-half cup; it can be refrigerated for several months.)


In a large bowl, make a marinade by stirring 2 heaping tablespoons achiote paste with the citrus juices and 1 tablespoon salt until well-blended.


Cut the pork into large pieces about the size of your fist. Add the pork to the marinade, stirring to cover completely; cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 12 hours, turning at least once.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a Dutch oven or heavy casserole with the banana leaves, overlapping the leaves slightly and covering the bottom and sides of the dish.


Place the marinade and pork in the banana leaf-lined pan. Pour the remaining marinade over the meat and fold the banana leaves tightly over the meat.


Cover and tightly seal the baking dish with heavy aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until the meat is tender to the point of falling apart with a fork. Divide the pork among plates, skim the fat from the marinade and pour over the pork, sprinkle with pickled onions and place a fresh habanero pepper on top. Serve with tortillas and habanero salsa if desired.

Pickled onions


In a bowl, combine the onions, vinegar and salt with three-eighths cup water; let stand for 2 hours. Drain and serve with cochinita pibil.

Roasted habanero salsa


Place the habaneros and garlic in a small, heavy frying pan and roast over medium-high heat until slightly charred. Place peppers and garlic in a food processor with vinegar and salt and blend until pureed. Add the oil and stir well to combine.

From chef Gilberto Cetina of Chichen Itza Restaurant. Ground annatto seeds and frozen banana leaves are widely available at Latino markets. To thaw the banana leaves, remove the bag from the freezer about 1 hour before using.

Betty Hallock was the deputy Food editor, covering all things food and drink for the Saturday section and Daily Dish blog. She started at The Times in 2001 in the Business section and previously worked on the National desk at the Wall Street Journal in New York. She’s a graduate of UCLA and New York University.
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