Cochinita Tacos are one of the most popular foods in the Mexican region of Yucatan. Pork meat is prepared by marinating in a unique spice blend called Red Recado and slow-cooked in fruit juices over a period of 21 hours. The meat is then mixed with the cooking juices, served on a corn tortilla with red onion pickle. Taco is garnished with cilantro or parsley. Sometimes salsa or guacamole is also served as a topping but it is a personal preference.
At home, I used a slow-cooker on a low setting. 8 pm start for the overnight cook, meat was ready lunchtime on the following day. The only side effect of this method of cooking is sleepless night as the delicious aromas keep you awake...
What kind of meat is used for Cochinita Pibil Tacos?
Traditionally, hairless Mexican pig is used for Cochinitas. For the top-quality meat, pigs are raised in an organic setting, fed with a variety of fruit, grass, grains and vegetables. Papaya is their most beloved feed on the menu giving the pork a unique flavour. Almost all parts of the animal are used for recipe ranging from ears, cheeks, main body to offal.
To prepare Cochinitas at home I choose Pork shoulder as my preference. Next time I will definitely try ribs or belly.
Remember to choose the best quality meat from sources that respect animal life and consumers health!
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What is a Red Recado Spice blend?
The main ingredient of Red Recado is an Annatto that comes from the Achiote tree native to the tropical region of Mexico and Brazil. Their aroma is very unique reminding Roses with a hint of nutmeg and pepper. The whole Annatto seeds can be purchased here and ground at home. If you looking for an easier option check here.
Ingredients for Red Recado:
3tbsp of ground Annatto seeds
1tsp of allspice
1tsp of cloves
1tsp black peppercorns
2tsp of salt
6 garlic cloves
hot chilli peppers (traditionally tabasco are used, I used 4 birds eye chillis from my home garden)
Ingredients for slow-cooked meat:
1,5kg (3.3 Pounds) pork shoulder cut into 4 (ribs, belly plus any other part that you like can be used as well)
500ml of fruit juice (2 grapefruits, 3limes, 4 oranges) use 100ml for the pickled onion
1L of vegetable stock
Instructions for meat:
1. Prepare the Red Recado spice blend by grinding all the ingredients together, I used an electric spice grinder.
2. Mix the spice blend with fruit juice and vegetable stock then pour the marinade over the meat in a slow-cooker dish. Place the lid on the top and set the slow cooker on low for a period of 16 hours. (8 pm start ready for lunchtime on the following day)
3. Once ready, remove the meat from the cooking medium and pull it apart. Drizzle with cooking juices and serve over a corn tortilla, garnished with pickled red onion and chopped cilantro or parsley. Salsa and guacamole can also be used as a topping.
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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
Instructions for cornmeal tortillas:
1. Mix plain flour, cornmeal, salt and vegetable oil together in a bowl.
2. Add 100ml of water and bring the dough together into a smooth ball then rest for 30 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 10 equal parts and roll each one of them to the desired size (Use flour for rolling).
4. Cook on the very hot pan until 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
Instructions for pickle:
1. In a small pot, mix fruit juice with white wine vinegar and sugar, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
2. Add diced red onion and cover with a lid, set aside for a minimum of 30 minutes.
3. Pickle can be transferred to a jar and stored in the fridge until needed.