Friday, March 9, 2012

Cochinita Pibil

For those who have seen Once Upon A Time in Mexico, you may remember a scene with Johnny Depp's character, Agent Sands, eating in a restaurant, and his monologue on puerco pibil.  He describes it as a simple dish, but as being his favorite to eat when he is in the area.  I've always wondered what it might taste like, so I chose to make it today for today's edition of Friday food.  A little Google work lead me to several versions, but all quite similar, so I chose to use one from a trusted blog I read almost daily.

It starts with a rather cheap cut of pork that I love, the shoulder, and a marinade with only a few ingredients.  It's mostly a citrus base, but the key ingredient in pibil is achiote paste.  Achiote paste is made from annato seeds, so it has a bright red color like a chili powder, but isn't spicy.  The pork is broken down into chunks, and orange juice, lime, achiote paste, and salt are blended then pour over the meat.  The original recipe calls for at least 6 hours of marinade, up to overnight.  I, shockingly, hadn't planned ahead for an overnight soak so we took several hours and hoped for the best.  There is also a long cook time, which concerned me time-wise, so I decided to make it in my pressure cooker.

As the meat soaked, I prepared some pickled red onions to serve along with the meat and rice.  I also added oregano, garlic, and cumin seeds to the onions and set them aside to cool for the afternoon.  The onions are great on a lot of fattier dishes and grilled meats, and they should keep weeks tucked away in your fridge, but they never last that long around these parts.

I browned the marinated meat cubes in my pressure cooker in batches, then added them all in with the reserved marinade.  I set the pressure to high, and the timer to 45 minutes and pressed start!  I turned my back to the cooker and  Click.  I tried again.  Maybe it wasn't sealed right.  Click.  I started making very loud noises that were NOT clicking noises, I'm sorry to say.  My husband came to the rescue with this:

It worked amazing, and 45 minutes later I released the pressure, took of the lid, and just showed the meat a fork.  It fell apart on it's own.  

Served over steamed rice, with cilantro, limes, cotija, and pickled onion.

Everyone had seconds!!

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