Tag Archives: yucatan

Cochinita Pibil

Sweet delicious Cochinita Pibil surrounded by his best friends Red Onions and sleeping on a banana leaf blanket.

Sweet delicious Cochinita Pibil surrounded by his best friends Red Onions and sleeping on a banana leaf blanket.

So recently we talked a bit about Tacos al Pastor.  Now let’s travel to the Yucatan peninsula to explore a dish whose roots come from Mayan tradition : Cochinita Pibil (pronounced ko-cheen-EE-ta pee-BEEL) .  This dish (also called Puerco Pibil) is a dish with pork.  It is slow roasted and it results in extremely tender and delicious meat.  The word cochinita itself is the diminuitive which signifies “little pig” or “baby pig”.  However, I don’t believe that a baby pig is necessary.  If all you have in your own backyard is a pig which has already reached its midlife ennui, then by all means use that pig instead.  The meat is marinated in an extremely acidic citrus juice such as Seville oranges.  Lemons and limes can also be used so that the meat becomes tenderized.

The color comes from the delicious achiote oil which comes from the seed of the annatto which grows in the tropical regions of the Americas.  When it comes time for roasting, it is usually wrapped in a banana leaf.  Traditionally it was buried and fire roasted.  Hence the Mayan word pibil which means buried.  I originally thought it meant delicious, but it turns out I do not have a grasp of Mayan.  Only a grasp of how tasty it is.

Seed pod of the annatto.

Seed pod of the annatto

The dish is usually served with Red Onions (as pictured above).  Some like to eat it plain and others on tortillas.  However you prefer, it’s a delicious treat whose delicious pork melts in your mouth.  Like tacos al pastor, this is something that varies from cocina to cocina so it should be tried everywhere.

Recently while dining with Noyen he mentioned to me that on Robert Rodriguez’ films he provides special features of him making some great mexican dish in his own kitchen.  I looked this up, and lo and behold Youtube had exactly the clip we needed.  Right there.  Waiting for me the whole time.  It turns out that on the DVD for “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” he includes a “ten minute cooking school” lesson of Cochinita Pibil.

In this clip, he also references the great scene in the film where Johnny Depp’s character explains his obsession with “Puerco Pibil”.  During the scene he explains that he tries this dish wherever the wind takes him as he does his business around Mexico.  If the dish is too good, he kills the cook to maintain balance.  Here’s that clip too, because I love it :

Over the next little bit we will explore SLC restaurants (and even grocery store products in your local Smith’s!!!) making Cochinita Pibil and see what we think.  If you have a restaurant making Pibil that we should try or you want to talk about, make it known.