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#236312 - 04/26/07 01:11 AM Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm
Marty Online   happy
Cocihinita pibil, a delicious wake-up call from the Yucatan

L.A. is discovering the tender, tangy signature pork dish of Caribbean Mexico.
By Betty Hallock, Times Staff Writer
April 25, 2007

WHAT started as a breakfast favorite in Mexico's tropical Yucatan is taking L.A. by storm — in tacos and tortas and burritos and even as a sophisticated plated dish.

Cochinita pibil is succulent slow-roasted pork that's so tender you can almost spoon into it. It has a depth of flavor from aromatic, earthy, rich achiote seeds that also impart a brilliant russet-red color to the dish, and at the same time, it's bright with the flavor of Seville oranges.

"It's the most important dish of the Yucatan," says Gilberto Cetina, owner of Yucatecan restaurants Chichén Itzá. (He opened the second Chichén Itzá on 6th Street near MacArthur Park in January.)

In the small kitchen of his original restaurant in the Mercado La Paloma near USC, Cetina has gotten down to the business of making his — and the Yucatan's — signature dish, cochinita pibil, pork marinated in the juice of Seville oranges, ground achiote (annatto) seeds, garlic and spices such as clove, allspice, black pepper and oregano, all wrapped up in banana leaves and slow-roasted for several hours.

The result is succulent, aromatic, tender, irresistible pork. At Mexican restaurants and taco stands across L.A., cochinita pibil is upstaging more familiar northern Mexican pork preparations such as carnitas and al pastor.

It used to be that cochinita pibil was rather elusive, tucked into the tacos and burritos at tiny Yuca's in Los Feliz or served only on weekends at La Flor de Yucatan Bakery in South Los Angeles, but it has become increasingly in demand.

And although Los Angeles' Yucatecan community is small, restaurants focusing on regional Mexican cuisine such as Babita in the San Gabriel Valley and La Huasteca at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood have helped put the Yucatecan specialty in the spotlight.

Breakfast of champions

TRADITIONALLY, it's served in tacos or tortas — for breakfast.

"In Yucatan, 5 a.m., it's everywhere, any place you go," says Socorro Herrera, who emigrated from Mérida, Mexico, and opened the award-winning taco stand Yuca's with her late husband in 1976. "Especially on Sundays, it's tradition."

And by 8 or 9 a.m., "there's no more cochinita available," says Cetina, who's from the town Colonia Yucatan. "You have to eat cochinita in the morning. And 99.9% of the population eats cochinita on Sunday morning…. If you party on Saturday night, you go have your cochinita tacos and then go to sleep."

At Chichén Itzá, Cetina serves it not only in tacos and tortas but also as a main course, nestled in a shallow white bowl and topped with tangy, crunchy pickled red onions and a fresh bright-orange, searingly hot habañero, the pepper of the Yucatan.

Pibil refers to the way the pork is cooked — traditionally in a coal-filled pit. The Mayans used not pork (domesticated pigs were introduced by the Spanish) but wild game such as rabbit, boar, venison or armadillo.

"You can make it with all different kinds of meat," says Jimmy Shaw, owner of Lotería Grill in the Original Farmers Market, which serves cochinita pibil tacos and burritos. "It's great with fish, chicken. The Yucatecos use a heck of a lot of turkey." Despite his not being from Yucatan (he's from Mexico City), Shaw makes a mean cochinita pibil taco — which he says he'll also serve at his second Lotería location, set to open in the fall on Hollywood Boulevard.

Cochinita pibil "was an important one for me because one of the things I wanted to do with my menu is steer people toward trying new things," Shaw says. "The menus at a lot of Mexican restaurants are so similar from one place to the next."

(There's also an off-the-menu taco Shaw nicknamed the cochinita gringa — cochinita pibil with potatoes, "based on the notion that Americans like meat and potatoes.")

Secret's in the spices

THE basis for the cochinita marinade is the dark red annatto seed from tropical achiote trees with their glossy leaves and starburst flowers; the seed pods are picked when they start to split and are then dried in the sun. The seeds look like tiny stones, have a deep, earthy, dusky flavor and are used in Caribbean cuisines for both their flavor and coloring.

Chichén Itzá's Cetina starts with the whole seeds, then grinds them into a paste mixed with garlic, spices, salt and vinegar. The difference from one cochinita to another is in the mixture of spices added to the ground achiote seeds (or to commercially available achiote paste, which can vary in quality). The paste can be prepared ahead of time and kept for several months. Cetina makes buckets-full at a time and goes through it fast. At the original Chichén Itzá alone, he makes 60 pounds of cochinita pibil a day.

And though the flavors are complex, the dish is easy to prepare. It can be made with almost any cut of pork (loin, cushion); it's best with a fatty cut such as pork butt or boneless shoulder because it comes out so tender and rich.


#236323 - 04/26/07 09:03 AM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Pibil the last Saturday of every month, Round Table BBQ under the palapa at Travellers Liquors on the Northern Hywy in Belize City.
Belize based travel specialist

#236377 - 04/26/07 04:18 PM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Katie Valk]
Marty Online   happy
norman eiley makes the best i ever had. i had the pleasure of assisting once...

#236379 - 04/26/07 04:27 PM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
SP Daily Offline
Norman tells a great story of a buried pig getting lost while everyone partied. They dug the whole beach up trying to find it.

#236422 - 04/26/07 07:38 PM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: SP Daily]
Marty Online   happy
oh mannnnnnnnnn. thats awesome. huge laugh.

#238656 - 05/23/07 08:26 PM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
CorozalBayResort Offline
You can get great cochinita pibil tacos Friday & Saturday mornings at the Gabriel Hoare Market in Corozal Town. Just look for the little Mayan man & his wife (originally from the Yucatan) who are set up under the stairs leading to the upper level. You can also buy it by the pound also for your own ideas. Sometimes their friends come around and they start speaking to each other in Mayan! That is so neat to hear.
Doug & Maria Podzun

#474613 - 10/10/13 07:28 AM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Cochinita (Pork) Pibil Tacos

Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it. Cochinita means “young pig” and the Maya word pibil means “buried.”  Luckily, these days we can replicate the same effect (sans the smoky flavor, of course) by using a slow-cooker. The secret is in the marinade – a mixture of spices, achiote for color and sour Seville oranges for that unique flavor. The pork is slow cooked, pulled apart and left to soak in its own savory juices until it tastes like perfection.

Today we’re going to show you how to create this incredible Belizean dish at home. Get ready for mouth-watering goodness!


3  1-oz corn masa balls
4 oz pork pibil (If you can’t get your hands on pork pibil, try using regular pulled pork!)
3 oz pico de gallo
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz hot sauce or to taste
.5 oz cilantro, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste


Start by taking each of the three masa balls and flattening them using a masher, being careful not to make your tortillas too thin. Cook them on a griddle on both sides until slightly puffed.

Heat a frying pan and sauté the pork pibil, adding cilantro and hot sauce, then gently finish off with a touch of lime juice. Lay out the tortillas and layer on the pork and pico de gallo (onions, tomato, cilantro and pineapple). Add salt, pepper and a hint of lime, to taste.

Add hot sauce to your desired heat and enjoy!


#509123 - 11/14/15 05:44 AM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy



3 1/2 pounds

This is a Mayan recipe for an incredibly delicious "pulled pork" for tacos. We make this at the restaurant I worked at, Ciudad D.F. in Dallas, but I actually like this recipe better. It comes from 'Tacos' The Santa Fe School of Cooking Series cookbook. Achiote paste and Banana leaves can be found in your local Hispanic Market. Trust me on this the Habaneroes only add flavor, there is no heat at all. If you want it spicy add more and leave the seeds in. Roasting them first also adds more spice.


1 (4 -6 lb) boneless pork butt, trimmed but with some fat remaining (4 to 6 pounds)
3 ounces achiote paste
12 garlic cloves
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
10 allspice berries, cracked or 2 teaspoons allspice, ground
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano, toasted
1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 limes, juice of
1 orange, juice of
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 habaneros, fresh, stems and seeds removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 lb banana leaf


Place pork in a freezer bag or other large plastic bag, strong trash bags work well.

Dry toast Mexican oregano & cumin seeds in a hot, heavy skillet one at a time, stirring or shaking the pan to prevent burning. They are done when color has deepen and little wisps of smoke are formed.

Mix all the ingredients, except banana leaves in a blender or food processor (break up the Achiote Paste before adding) Pour in with pork, seal bag, and distribute well to coat meat. Be careful not to get on hands it will stain them red! ( I used a meat injector also).

Marinate at least 2 hours or overnight in frig, overnight is best.

If banana leaves are frozen, thaw and rinse well in cool water. If you can use fresh banana leaves you will need to wilt them over the burner on your stove, be careful not to burn them. Heat them until they are pliable.

Line the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with 2 or 3 banana leaves, long enough to be able to fold over the roast covering it completely. They should over lap the pan on all sides.

Remove pork roast from the bag and reserve marinade.

Place pork fat side up on the banana leaves in the pan, pour marinade over top of the meat.

Place 3 or 4 more banana leaves over the pork and inside the bottom leaves. Pull bottom leaves around meat and tie with cooking string around this package form both directions to secure.

Place either in the grill with lid down or in the oven at 325°F for 3-1/2 to 4 hours until meat is tender. Leaves may be almost black on the outside when finished. When we used the smoker it took close to 8 hours.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes; then slit open banana leaves with knife or scissors, (be careful of the steam) and remove pork.

Serve with fresh corn tortillas, salsa of your choice, red pickled onions, guacamole, chopped cilantro, etc.


Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil Tacos (Yucatan Pulled Pork)

Cuisine: Mexican Author: Finn
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 10 mins


Cochinita Pibil:
2 kg pork butt
3 Tbsp achiote paste
⅓ cup orange juice
⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
⅓ cup white vinegar
1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt

Pickled Red Onions:
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp whole black peppercorns

Small corn tortillas
Fresh cilantro


Rub down pork butt with achiote paste. If the pork is tied up, remove all the string and massage the achiote over the unfolded piece of meat.

In a large bowl, mix together orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, habanero and the spices. Place pork in the orange mixture and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight. Turn the pork at least once in the marinade to ensure even saturation.

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, salt and sugar until the dry ingredients are dissolved.

Place onions in a sanitized glass jar and pour vinegar over top.
Add peppercorns and top up with water until all the onions are submerged.

Set aside at room temperature for an hour to steep. After this, they will be ready to eat. If you're not eating them right away, pop them in the refrigerator to store.

Place pork, marinade and 1 cup of water into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Once the pork is cooked, it should shred apart easily with a fork.

Serve pork in corn tortillas topped with pickled red onions and fresh cilantro.

#515770 - 07/05/16 05:29 AM Re: Cocihinita pibil mmmmmm [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Video: Pit Pork (Cochinita Pibil) Cooking

Antonio "Dudu" Novelo demonstrating how to prepare Pit Pork (Cochinita Pibil) in Orange Walk Town


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