Cochinita pibil is a pork dish that is typically cooked underground. This recipe uses the slow cooker so that typical home cooks can enjoy this wonderful Mexican dish. The pork shines in a sweet, tangy achiote sauce in this recipe for cochinita pibil.
What is Cochinita Pibil?
Spices & Substitutions
How to Use Leftovers
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What is Cochinita Pibil?
“Cochinita” translates to little pig in Mexican and ”pibil” is a method of cooking in a large pit underground. Cochinita Pibil is a Yucatecan way of slow cooking pork after marinating it in achiote paste.
Oftentimes, large banana or palm tree leaves are used to cover the underground pits and hold in the moisture. Sometimes the banana leaves are used as a natural packet to make items like tamales. Another way the banana leaves are typically used is as a meat pocket to make something similar to a meat pie.
The method of underground cooking with a banana leaf cover is typically used in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and in some other countries like Belize and Guatemala.
Real pit cooking and using banana leaves is a pretty involved process and beyond the scope of the home cook (in the US anyway). Marinating the pork overnight in an achiote paste and then cooking it in a slow cooker the next day can get you a close approximation to this delicious Mexican dish however.
Classic Ingredients and Substitutions
The key element of cochinita pibil is the achiote (annatto) paste. The paste is often hard to find in places that do not have a high Latinx population but you can order Achiote paste on Amazon.
You can change up the peppers and use various substitutes for most of the spices if desired, but you cannot substitute the achiote- it is key in this recipe!
Ideas for Leftover Shredded Pork
A five pound pork shoulder will generally give you more cochinita pibil than you would need for one dinner. There are many delicious ways to use this marinated pulled pork.
It does freeze well, but once the pork is shredded you can use leftovers in a bunch of different ways. Here are a few popular ways that cochinita pibil is served the next day without that feeling of eating “leftovers”:
- It Is a wonderful option for a tacobar, with tortillas, beans and a side of pickled onions
- Mix the pork into scrambled eggs or reheat the pork and cook a fried egg on top
- On a torta (sandwich) with refried beans and avocado
- Use it as a topping for pizza, nachos or even french fries!
- Use in a tamale pie casserole
Recipe for Mexican Cochinita Pibil
Low Carb Cochinita Pibil
- small bowl
- Extra large bowl
- slow cooker aka Crockpot
- 3 Tbsp achiote annatto paste, 1 1/2 oz
- ⅓ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 4.5 lbs pork shoulder can use butt as well
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper can use habanero or another chile pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Cup water
- Lime wedges, jalapenos, guacamole, pickled onions optional- for serving
- In a small bowl, combine the achiote paste, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar. Mix thoroughly until all the achiote paste is wet and combined with the juices.3 Tbsp achiote, 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup white vinegar
- Place the meat in a large bowl and add the pepper, achiote/ juice mixture, and the spices and rub all over the pork. Make sure to get the juice in all the crevasses of the pork. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight turning the pork at least once to ensure full coverage.4.5 lbs pork shoulder, 1 scotch bonnet pepper, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp salt
- Place the pork and all the juice mixture in a crock pot or slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water and turn on low for 8 hours or longer.
- Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks. If not serving right away, return pork to the slow cooker.
- Serve with lime wedges, hot pepper slices, guacamole, refried beans queso fresco or pickled onions.Lime wedges, jalapenos, guacamole, pickled onions
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