Puerco Pibil Redux

Last time I did this, it was for my son’s birthday party. All the food disappeared so fast, I didn’t have a chance to get more. So I’m doing it again, but with a few wrinkles added.

Originally, when I cooked cochinita pibil, I posted it on grillinfools.com. Pitmaster Scott Thomas, author of the GrillinFools blog, kindly pimped this recipe on a local radio show. He wasn’t sure how to describe it, except that it was pork wrapped in banana leaves.

Cochinita pibil...my first attempt

I would describe it as Mexican pulled pork. What I mean by that is the pulled pork will not be all candied up, instead, the meat will inherit earthy and savory flavors you expect from Mexican food. I crave this tender pork so much, I plan to make tamales and taquitos from the leftovers.

This time, however, I just want it with some rice…simple.

And simple is the way it ought to be. I’m taking some shortcuts to minimize the cook time for the Puerco pibil. There is no way I’m waiting 8 or 9 hours to start pulling pork. I can achieve the same moist and tender pork in 3 hours on the grill!

4 pounds pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes

1/2 a package of anchiote paste (50g)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 jalapeno peppers, rough chop
2 Fresno peppers, rough chop
1/4 cup bitter orange juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp sea salt
2 lemons
1 shot tequila

Preparation Instructions:
1. Combine the anchiote paste, cumin, pepper, cloves, and allspice in a blender. Add the chopped jalapeno and Fresno peppers with the orange juice, vinegar, garlic and salt. Blend the dry spices with the liquid until smooth.

2. Add the juice of 5 lemons and the tequila. Blend again until it is well mixed:

3. Place the cubed pork butt in a large 2-gal zip lock bag and add the marinade. Marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Setup the grill for 2 zone indirect cooking. Right around 325-350 degrees. I used pecan wood for smoke, any fruitwood is ideal.

5. Pour the pork and all of the marinade into a disposable aluminum pan, deep enough to hold it all and place it on the grill with the lid on. Cook for 2 hours.

After cooking for 2 hours

6. Cover the foil pan with aluminum foil, crimp around the edges so no air escapes. Cook for 1 hour.

7. Check for tenderness, it’s done if the pork easily pulls apart. If not, let it cook longer until tender.

Pork pulled off easy (right corner)

Remove the pork from the grill and keep it covered for 10 minutes or until its cool enough to handle. Start smashing down on the little pork nuggets with a fork or spoon and mix it with the remaining marinade at the bottom of the pan.

I start eating the pibil right out of the pan because it looks so mouth watering. The pork doesn’t melt in my mouth but it is definitely tender (I think the pork butt was cut a little too lean). The acidity of the citrus and the savory bitterness from the combination of achiote/vinegar/bitter oranges makes this extremely addicting.

I can’t believe I got something this good with a hint of smoke in around 3 hours. That brings me to believe I can do this with BBQ pulled pork. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this bowl of fork tender puerco pibil with brown rice. Delisioso!

1 thought on “Puerco Pibil Redux

  1. Thank you very much for the recipe! Family and friends loved it. I added the banana leaves to your directions. Before putting them on the grill, I made a bed of banana leaves at the bottom, put the marinated meat and smoked for two hours. When it came time to put the foil on, I added more leave to the top and sealed it. It was good Since this was my first time doing the recipe, i have no point of reference. Keep of Q’ing!

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