Cochinita Pibil (Slow-Roasted Pork)

23 May

This one is all on Eat St. I was at home watching it and one of the food trucks had their version of cochinita pibil, a traditional Mexican shredded pork dish. For me, shopping for the ingredients was as much fun as making it. I headed off to Wychwood Barns on Saturday to get the pork from my fave farmers at Marvellous Edibles. (Best. Bacon. Ever. Go try it, people.)  Then it was off to St. Clair West to La Tortilleria for fresh tortillas and the achiote paste. It is imperative that you not substitute the achiote paste for anything else:  it is the dominant flavour in the dish. If you can get your hands on banana leaves, so much the better as the pork is traditionally cooked in them. Having said that, foil will work.

Best to get this started the day before you want to cook it. The pork should marinate in the fridge for 6-24 hours, but no more than 24 hours as the enzymes in the citrus juices will break down the meat too far and give it an unpleasant texture. It also takes 3 – 4 hours to cook, so ensure you’ve left yourself enough time to cook it!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

3lb pork shoulder, cut into 2″ pieces (do not trim fat)
1c orange juice
1/2c lime juice, (4-5 limes)
1 ts salt
3 oz of red achiote paste (also called “annato paste”)
Pickled red onions (optional), for garnish
1c cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions

1. Blend together the paste, salt, orange and lime juices in a blender. (Make sure you rinse out your blender quickly as the paste will stain.) In a non-reactive bowl, combine the marinade and the pork pieces. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 6 – 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a large casserole with a triple layer of regular foil – you want a good seal. Pour in the pork and the marinade and close the foil tightly. Put the casserole in the oven and bake 3.5 hours. At this point, remove from the oven and check to see if the meat is falling apart. If so, you’re done! If you think it could use a little more time, put it back in for 30 minutes.
3. When the pork is tender, take it out of the oven and open the foil. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a bowl, then shred it with two forks.  If necessary, pour some of the remaining sauce over the pork to make sure it’s juicy.
4. Serve with either fresh tortillas or rice. For garnish, add lime wedges, cheese, avocado, cilantro and/or pickled onions.

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