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Cochinita Pibil

Updated: Mar 14

As a chef, I highly recommend giving my Cochinita Pibil recipe a try. The combination of the juicy, slow-cooked pork and the tangy and flavourful Red Recado marinade make for a truly unforgettable taco experience. Lets get cooking!

  1. What is Cochinita Pibil?

  2. What meat is used for Cochinita Pibil?

  3. What is a Red Recado Spice blend?

  4. Skip to Recipe >>>

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Cochinita Pibil Taco
Slow-cooked and juicy pork with a savoury explosion of Red Recado flavour!

What is Cochinita Pibil?

Cochinita Pibil Tacos are a popular dish in the Mexican region of Yucatan, known for their unique flavour and preparation method. The main ingredient in these tacos is pork meat, which is marinated in a blend of spices called Red Recado. The meat is then slow-cooked for 21 hours in fruit juices, infusing it with rich and savoury flavours.

To serve the Cochinita Tacos, the pork is mixed with the cooking juices and placed on a corn tortilla. A garnish of red onion pickle, cilantro or parsley is added, and some people may also choose to add salsa or guacamole.

If you are looking to make Cochinita Pibil Tacos at home, a slow-cooker can be used. Simply start the cooking process in the evening, around 8 pm, and let it cook overnight. By lunchtime the following day, the meat will be perfectly cooked and ready to serve. The only downside to this method is that the delicious aromas from the slow-cooking process may keep you awake throughout the night!

Cochinita Pibil Tacos have a rich history that dates back to the ancient Maya civilization. The dish was created by the Maya people as a way to preserve pork, as they would slow-cook the meat in underground ovens using banana leaves and spices to infuse it with flavour. This traditional method of cooking is known as "pibil," which means "buried" in the Maya language.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Yucatan region of Mexico, they brought with them new ingredients and cooking techniques, which combined with the traditional Maya methods to create the Cochinita Pibil Tacos that we know and love today. The dish quickly became a staple of the Yucatan cuisine, and it has since spread to other parts of Mexico and beyond.

What meat is used for Cochinita Pibil?

The traditional Cochinita Pibil Tacos are made using meat from a hairless Mexican pig that is raised organically and fed a diverse diet of fruits, grass, grains, and vegetables, with papaya being a particularly favoured food. Various parts of the pig are used in the recipe, including the ears, cheeks, main body, and offal. While pork shoulder is commonly used as a substitute for the traditional meat, ribs or belly can also be used. It is essential to choose high-quality meat from sources that prioritize both animal welfare and consumer health when preparing Cochinita Tacos at home.

Pork Shoulder on wooden board
Pick a cut with a lot of marbling for the best result.

What is a Red Recado Spice blend?

Red Recado is a spice blend that is used to make Cochinita Pibil Tacos. It is a traditional Yucatan spice mixture that is made from annatto seeds, achiote, cumin, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and other spices. The spices are ground together to create a flavourful, deep red seasoning that is used to marinate the pork before cooking.

The use of annatto seeds is key to the unique flavour of Red Recado, as they provide a slightly sweet, earthy flavour and a vibrant red colour. To make the best Red Recado, it is recommended to purchase high-quality annatto seeds and grind them fresh in a spice grinder. This will ensure that you have the freshest, most flavourful spice blend possible, which will result in delicious Cochinita Pibil Tacos.

So if you're a fan of Mexican cuisine and want to try your hand at making traditional Cochinita Pibil Tacos, I highly recommend purchasing some annatto seeds and investing in a good spice grinder. With these two ingredients, you'll be well on your way to creating this delicious dish that is sure to impress your family and friends.

You can also purchase ground annatto seeds.

Annatto Seeds Macro Photography
Annatto Seeds

Ingredients for Red Recado Spice Blend

Ingredients for Cochinita Pibil

  • 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces (ribs, belly, or any other part can also be used)

  • 500ml of fruit juice (made from 2 grapefruits, 3 limes, and 4 oranges, with 100ml reserved for the pickled onion)

  • 1 liter of vegetable stock

  • Red Recado Spice Blend

How to prepare Cochinita Pibil

1. In a spice grinder, grind all the ingredients for the Red Recado spice blend together.

2. In a slow-cooker dish, mix the spice blend with the fruit juice and vegetable stock. Add the pork shoulder and mix to coat.

3. Cover the slow-cooker with a lid and set it to cook on low for 8 hours, or until the pork is tender and falls apart easily.

4. Once cooked, remove the meat from the slow-cooker and shred it using two forks. Mix the meat with the cooking juices.

5. Assemble the tacos by placing some shredded pork on a tortilla, then adding pickled red onion, chopped cilantro or parsley, and any other desired toppings. Serve and enjoy your delicious slow-cooker Cochinita Pibil!

Ingredients for Cornmeal Tortillas

  • 160g (5.6oz) of plain flour

  • 80g (2.8oz) of cornmeal

  • 50g (1.7oz) of vegetable oil (4tbsp)

  • 100-120ml of water

  • 0,5tsp salt

How to prepare Cornmeal Tortillas

1. In a bowl, mix together plain flour, cornmeal, salt, and vegetable oil.

2. Gradually add 100ml of water to the mixture, kneading until a smooth dough forms. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 10 equal parts and roll each one into the desired size using flour to prevent sticking.

4. Cook the tortillas in a very hot pan until they are golden brown on both sides.

Ingredients for Pickled Red Onion

  • 2 medium-size red onions, diced

  • 100ml of reserved fruit juice

  • 75ml of white wine vinegar

  • 75g (2.6oz) of sugar

How to prepare Pickled Red Onion

1. In a small saucepan, mix together the fruit juice, white wine vinegar, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat.

2. Add diced red onion to the pot and cover with a lid. Let it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the pickled onions to a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cochinita Pibil Taco in hand
Ready to munch!

From Chef:

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