We’ve been cooking up a storm here at Caoba Towers*.
Our most recent venture into Mexican food was a pulled pork dish, known variously as Achiote Pork, Mexican Pulled Pork or Cochinita Pibil. There are hundreds of different recipes if you search on sites such as Pinterest; most of them using American measurements, some requiring a barbecue pit in the back yard. This meant a little experimentation to accommodate our location in Edinburgh, Scotland. What follows makes no claims for being authentically Mexican but it will definitely warm you up!
The key ingredients are pork shoulder, citrus juices and achiote powder or paste, marinated over night and slow-cooked in a low oven or a slow cooker/crock pot. After that you can pretty much make things up as you go along if you are so inclined, otherwise use the following recipe as a guideline.
Achiote (also known as annatto) can be bought locally from Lupe Pinto’s, or is available from various online stores. The paste is a mixture of achiote powder and other spices, so omit the first step in the recipe if that’s what you’re using.
1kg boned shoulder of pork, trimmed of fat
Juice of approx 3 limes
Juice of approx 3 oranges
2 (or more, to taste) cloves crushed garlic
Pinch of salt to taste
Lots of ground black pepper
1 tsp (or more, to taste) dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp achiote powder
Mix the ground spices and garlic together, adding in some of the citrus juices to form a thick paste.
Score the pork with a sharp knife and rub the paste into the surface of the meat. Place the meat in a glass or ceramic bowl (not metal) and pour over the remaining citrus juices. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Place the pork in an oven-proof casserole dish or the slow cooker pot and strain over the marinade. Season with salt and add more juice or water (if necessary) to the depth of about 5cm.
If you are using the oven make sure the casserole lid has a tight seal, you don’t want any steam to escape or the liquid to dry out. Cook in a low oven 140°C/Gas 1 for about 5 hours.
If you are using a slow cooker use the low setting and cook for about 8 hours.
Once the meat is fall-apart tender, remove from the oven/cooker, drain and pull apart using 2 forks. Set the meat aside, keeping warm.
Serve with rice and some of the cooking juices or wrap up in warm, soft corn tortillas. Good side dishes are guacamole, bean salad, salsa or sliced jalapeño peppers or pickled red onions. NOT pickled onions from a jar; a finally sliced red onion pickled in lime and orange juices to cover, with 3 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt added. Covered and left to pickle for at least 2 hours. I repeat, not pickled onions from a jar.
I am now very hungry so please excuse me while I sneak off to eat a pork-filled taco…
(*not a real tower)