Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cochinita Pibil, Part 1

I bought a cookbook by the brilliant Rick Bayless not too long ago in the quest to make more Latin-based meals.  This book is gorgeous.  Do not crack it open if your stomach is on empty.  Or even near empty.

For two weeks I wondered what to make from this cookbook until I spied the recipe for Cochinita Pibil.  This is usually a chicken dish, but this recipe called for a pork roast that is cooked in a banana leaf-lined slow cooker.  For years I've wanted to do a pig-in-the-ground party, and this recipe allowed me to do something similar but in my slow cooker.  Genius!!!

I cannot post the recipe as I do not own it or the right to publicly share it.  If you need specifics, shoot me an email.  Cooking experiments can make me pretty nervous. There's so much at stake - cost, time spent prepping and cooking, and then the wonder if the meal will even be any good.  I feel good about it this time.  So far, it's been really simple to make.  The most difficult part was locating banana leaves and the achiote block. I purchased the achiote from  Later, I found out I could have gotten it for half the price at my local Asian supermarket.  Where I also was able to find banana leaves in abundance.

I lined the slow cooker liner with banana leaves that I had frozen.  Prepping them was simple.  I ran them into a hot water bath for about 10 minutes, then trimmed them up well. Line your slow cooker however best suits the bowl of the cooker.

I made the achiote marinade with lime juice and salt, but since one of my limes had gone bad in the center, I used the juice of one clementine in order to make 1/2 cup juice.  I like the flavor of orange and pork, and the  clementine will bring a slight sweet flavor to the tart limes.  I love limes, and this meal brings about so many flavors I adore in one sitting.

If you've never seen achiote before, it is a paste of annatto seeds, garlic, vinegar, spices, and salt.  You can refrigerate it up to a year, so buy the bigger block.  You'll use it, I promise.  I plan on using mine for more cochinita pibil as well as seafood dishes.

I was supposed to use a bone-in roast but my store had the boneless roasts on sale - buy one get one.  Frugality wins out this time!

This little pork baby has to cook six hours on high, and Part 2 of this post will reveal how it all turned out. I've got my fingers crossed and my taste buds waiting in anticipation!

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