Traditional Recipe for Cochinita Pibil (Puerco Pibil)

This traditional mexican recipe nowadays is popular; partly because of the movie "Once upon a Time in Mexico", which was a big hit in 2003. This dish is part of mayan yucatecan cuisine, and incorporates an ancient cooking method from the mesoamerican era, mayan ingredients and ingredients from Spain. This recipe takes advantage of the unique taste and color from the annatto paste, combined with the citrus marinade for a delicious and different pork meal.

| Yield: 4 servings | Preparation: | Cooking and Baking: | Total time: | | by:

Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita Pibil... just out of the oven!

Achiote paste needed for Cochinita Pibil
The Achiote paste, mixed with orange juice and bitter
orange seasoning

cochinita pibil plate

Recipe for Cochinita Pibil:

Ingredients for 4 guests:

* 2 banana tree leaves boiled for a few seconds, just enough to slightly soften them
* 3 lb. of cubed pork leg meat, or pork shoulder meat
* 1 pound of pork loin meat with the rib
* 1 package achiote paste (buy it at a latin products store)
    achiote is a red paste made of annatto and a few more spices
* 1 cup of juice of bitter orange (this can be substituted by regular orange juice mixed with
lemon juice or as I did here, mixing orange juice with bitter orange seasoning)
* 1 teaspoon cumin spice
* 1 teaspoon of dry oregano
* 1 teaspoon of white pepper powder
* ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder
* ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
* 4 tablespoons allspice powder
* 3 cloves of garlic, which you will press in with a garlic press
* 1/2 teaspoonful of chili piquín (or use ancho chili for less spicy recipe)
* salt to taste
* 1/2 cup pork lard.

Ingredients needed for the accompanying sauce:

* 8 white mexican radishes well washed and finely chopped (can be replaced by turnip or rutabaga)
* 1 purple onion finely chopped to small bits
* 4 cut ancho chilis finely chopped (use red serrano or fresno chilies for a stronger punch if desired)
* 1/4 cup of cut finely cut coriander leaves or one tablespoon of the coriander spice we have in regular stores
* 1 cup bitter orange juice (or a mix of orange and lemon juice) **
* 1/4 cup vinegar
* salt to taste.


1. Let's begin preparing this ancient Yucatecan recipe;
Use an oven-friendly wide pan; line it using the banana-tree leaves, making sure these leaves stick out enough to be able to wrap the cochinita in them.
Place the meat on the leaves.

2. Dissolve the achiote in the sour orange juice; add the spices to that mixture; and it is with that mixture that you will marinate the meat in. Pour the orange/achiote mixture in that pan; marinate everything in the refrigerator for more or less eight hours; more, if possible.

3. Preheat the oven to 275 °F Melt two tablespoons butter,
pour the melted butter in the pan, wrap tightly the mixture with the banana-tree leaves, cover the pan with aluminum foil or its lid and we will bake it nice and slow in the preheated oven, at 275 ºF for 4-5 hours. Once cooked, coarsely shred the meat with two forks.

4. The accompanying sauce: Mix all the ingredients mentioned above regarding the sauce, blend using a food processor, and allow everything to marinate for about three hours.

You can use the banana-tree leaves for decorating each plate as you are serving them to create a nice exotic touch, put the meat on top; pour the sauce over the meat and serve with freshly-made tortillas, to complete this excellent Mayan mexican recipe.

** For those living outside South America or Spain: As a substitue for the bitter orange, combine the lemon juice or grapefruit juce with regular orange juice, about half-half. This mix will turn out similar enough to the real thing. I have recently discovered a citrus Adobo powder that helps here, too. Regarding the banana leaves, your chances are very good to find them at the closest Latin supermarket; if not, often the Philipino markets have them too.

mexican recipes

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