I have a newfound respect for Robert Rodriguez.
You know him?
No, I don’t mean the dude you knew way back in high school. I’m talkin’ about the director.
Yea, THAT Robert Rodriguez .
So yea, Robert Rodriguez… I used to love the man strictly for his movies until – Well, did you know the man gets down in the kitchen? Like, really gets down. I’ve never seen a man make tortillas from scratch with that sort of… Swagger…
Flow with me, I’ve got a story:
I own way too many cookbooks. At last count my number was 69. This may sound like a drop in the bucket to some, but owning 69 cookbooks is a big deal for me. It opens 69 books worth of possibilities – Something new to try with every turn of the page. I love that…
Several weeks ago Kim from Liv Life posted a delicious recipe from Chevy’s Fresh Mex cookbook. Her blog rocks check it out. I ate at Chevy’s several times about 10 years ago with some co-workers. It may have been the margarita(s) in the middle of the day, the conversation, or just breaking bread(um… tortilla) with good people, but I thought the food rocked; hence, the cookbook purchase. I found a recipe I wanted to try which called for achiote paste. Achiote, much like annatto, a derivative of the achiote trees, is used as flavoring and food coloring in Latin American cooking. I like to call it The Broke Chick’s Saffron. I couldn’t find achiote paste anywhere in the book. Achiote has a very distinct earthy flavor you can’t substitute.
I did what any self-respecting chick would do: I hit the internet in search of achiote paste. I found this, an achiote paste used in Puerco Pibil. What the hell is Puerco Pibil?
I Googled it.
Imagine my surprise to find a video from non-other than Robert Rodriguez.
Puerco Pibil or Cochinita Pibil is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted dish from the Yucatan Peninsula. Preparation involves marinating the meat in citrus and various spices, coloring it with ground achiote seeds and roasting the meat wrapped in banana leaf.
Sounded like a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon…
Turns out, this dude has quite a few 10 minute segments in his DVD extras which range from film to cooking. Puerco Pibil was one such segment found in the movie “Once Upon A Time in Mexico.”
If you’ve ever watched this movie, Hot Ass Johnny Depp’s character orders this dish at every restaurant he goes to in Mexico. He finds a Puerco Pibil so delicious that when he’s finished eating he shoots the cook to restore balance to the country (!).
Who shoots cooks? How does that restore balance? Could something taste THAT good?
I needed answers…
I bought the spices, citrus, a big hunk of pork and got down Robert Rodriguez style…With swagger.
To an extent it couldn’t have been simpler; meaning I had some trouble with the achiote seeds. Those suckers are hard to grind into powder with a food processor. I had to toast and grind the spices several times before I got this:
Not bad, right?
Do yourselves a favor and purchase a spice grinder. Save yourself the 30 minutes.
Just do it.
Seriously, don’t be like me – Or be like me, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Spice grinding aside, it’s just a matter of:
- Juicing citrus
- Whizzing ingredients in a blender,
- Laying down banana leaves,
- Layin’ down da pork
- Smothering da pork with the spice mixture
- Covering with another layer of banana leaves, then foil.
- Forgetting about it in the oven at a nice warm 325F.
For 4 hours…
That’s a lot of free time – A lot of stuff to catch up on. Cleaning, laundry, whatever it is ya’ll do on a Sunday afternoon. You can even watch Once upon a time in Mexico. Good flick. Anything with Hot Ass Sexiest Man Alive Johnny Depp is a good flick.
Just take my word for it.
Oh, yea – I guess you want to know about the Puerco Pibil, right? It was earthy, succulent, tart, fall off the bone delicious; a complex marriage of flavors.
You have to get on this. If only to find out why Robert Rodriguez rocks outside the lens, and what it means to eat something so good you’ll shoot the cook.
Except I’m the cook – Ha!
*Runs away screaming…*
|Puerco Pibil (Cochinita Pibil)|
- 5-6 pounds pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons achiote (annatto) seeds
- 2 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 8-10 whole allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- Juice of 5 lemons
- 8-10 cloves garlic
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers seeded and chopped (The original recipe calls for Habañero peppers, but I’m not that brave)
- 1 Tablespoon of Premium Tequila ( I used Patron)
- Banana leaves
- For the Achiote paste:
- In a coffee grinder finely grind the Achiote seeds, cumin, black peppercorns, allspice berries and cloves. If you don’t own a coffee grinder you can toast the spices in a small skillet over low heat until very fragrant, about 6-10 minutes. Be sure to stir very often so the spices don’t burn. Grind the spices in a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
- For the Pork:
- In a blender, or an immersion hand blender, blend achiote paste, ½ cup orange juice, and ½ cup of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and jalapeño or habanero peppers until smooth.
- In a large bowl mix pork and achiote spice mixture until pork is evenly coated.
- Line a deep roasting pan with banana leaves, to that add the pork mixture and cover with another layer of banana leaves. Cover very tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 325° F oven for 4 hours.
- Serve with Cilantro Lime or plain white rice.