Easy Cochinita Pibil (Mexican Pulled Pork)

This simplified version of the classic Mexican pulled pork shoulder recipe, Cochinita Pibil, originally appeared in the food column I used to write for Cosmo for Latinas magazine (a sister publication of Cosmopolitan).

The magazine and its website sadly shut down a couple years ago, and the nearly all the recipes and columns that I wrote for it disappeared along with the magazine, so I thought I'd repost a few of the recipes here for you to enjoy!

I love this easy pork shoulder recipe because it requires just a few minutes in the kitchen to prep, and then the oven does the rest of the work. Just know that you do need to let the meat marinate for at least 8 hours, so plan to make this at least 1-2 days before serving.

The flavor and color in this dish come from achiote paste, a signature Mexican seasoning made from annatto seeds, which--fun fact!--are also the same seeds used to add yellow color to things like Spanish rice or cheddar cheese. You can find achiote paste online (Amazon affiliate link), or in most well-stocked grocery stores. Look for it in the (unfortunately called) "ethnic food" aisle. FYI that just like other highly pigmented spices (think turmeric), this paste can stain fabric and porous surfaces, so take care when using it!

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Cochinita Pibil 
Serves 8

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups sour orange juice (from Seville oranges, or substitute 1 cup orange juice and 1 1/2 cups lemon juice)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 ounces red achiote paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3" chunks
1 package banana leaves (optional)
2 cups water

Directions
Combine the juice, salt, achiote paste, oregano, garlic, and brown sugar in a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Place the pork in a large bowl and toss with the puree. Cover and let marinate overnight or at least 8 hours (and up to 2 days) in the refrigerator.

To cook: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and line bottom and sides of a large roasting pan or dutch oven with banana leaves (if using; if not, just skip this step). Add the marinated pork to the prepared pan and pour in 2 cups water. Top with more banana leaves, then cover the pan with foil or the lid.

Cook in oven for 4 hours, or until meat is very tender and falling apart.

Remove the banana leaves, and shred with a fork.

Serve with tortillas to make tacos or on top of rice as a main course. Garnish with pickled red onions, fresh cilantro, and your favorite salsa. 






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