Cochinita pibil (also puerco pibil) is a traditional Mexican
slow-roasted pork dish from Yucatán Península. Preparation of traditional
cochinita or puerco pibil involves marinating the meat in strongly acidic citrus
juice, coloring it with annatto seed, and roasting the meat while it is wrapped
in banana leaf.
Left: Cochinita pibil.
Cochinita refers to a baby pig, so true cochinita pibil would
involve roasting a whole suckling pig. Alternatively, pork shoulder (butt
roast), or pork loin is used in many recipes. The high acid content of the
marinade and the slow cooking time tenderizes the meat, allowing otherwise tough
pieces of meat to be used.
The Yucatecan recipes always employ the juice of
Seville or bitter oranges for marinating, in areas where bitter oranges are not
common, juice of sweet oranges combined with lemons, limes, or vinegar are
employed to duplicate the effect of the bitter orange on the meat. Another key
ingredient employed in all pibil recipes is achiote (annatto), which gives the
meat its characteristic color.
Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to
roast it. The Mayan word "pibil" means "buried".
Left: Puerco pibil, cooling in the pan