Ten Minute Cooking School – Puerco Pibil – recipe

Johnny Depp searches for the perfect Puerco Pibil in Once Upon a Time in Mexico by Rico Torres for The Providence Journal.

While watching Once Upon a Time in Mexico, an action movie starring Johnny Depp, my son called me to join him, insisting I see something special. Now I already watched that movie and totally hated what the bad guys did to Depp, surgically removing his eyes, so I didn’t need to see it again, ever. But it was a special featurette my son didn’t want me to miss. It was called Ten Minute Cooking School.

In this short DVD extra, writer/director Robert Rodriguez, a young, hip guy wearing a ski cap and three days of beard growth, shows viewers how to make Puerco Pibil, a slow roasted pork dish from the Yucatan region of Mexico.

There is preparation required for making this dish. You’ll need a gadget – a spice or coffee grinder to make the spice paste. Rodriguez suggests that putting hot spices in your usual coffee grinder is a very bad idea. He offers options: add heat by leaving in the seeds from the habanero peppers. And he makes one very appealing dish. He also explains you can buy prepared achiote paste which is what you are making but that’s not as fine as making it from scratch.

5 tablespoons annato seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

8 allspice berries

2 habanero peppers

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup white vinegar

8 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons salt

Juice of 5 lemons

Generous splash of tequila

5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes

Banana leaves (optional)

Grind the annato seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves and allspice in a spice grinder till the annatto seeds are pulverized. You can use a coffee grinder as long as it&rsquos devoted to preparing spices only.

Take the seeds and veins out of the habanero peppers and chop. Put in a blender with the orange juice, vinegar, garlic and salt and puree. Pour the dry spices into the blender, the juice of the lemons and a good splash of tequila and blend until it&rsquos a smooth liquid.

Cut the pork butt into two inch cubes and place in a large zip lock bag. Add the marinade to the bag and turn over several times to coat meat. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, or banana leaves if you can find them. Pour in pork along with the marinade. Cover with more banana leaves and then seal tight with aluminum foil or just foil. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 4 hours.

Serve with white or Spanish rice.

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