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Cochinita pibil

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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.

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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 after cooking.

 

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