Episode 207: Tex Meets Mex

Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibil

A pork shoulder pibil smoke-roasted in banana leaves. Traditionally cooked in a pib, an underground pit in the Yucatan, this cochinita pibil is cooked on a pellet grill. Serve this with Salpicon.

Other Recipes from Episode 207: Tex Meets Mex


Cochinita Pibil

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Method: Grilling in banana leaves/indirect grilling
  • Equipment: Butcher's string


For the Recado Rojo (Marinade):

  • 4 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 allspice berries , bruised with the side of a cleaver or knife
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sour orange juice (4 to 5 sour oranges), or a mixture of orange juice and lime juice

For the Pork

  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder (5 to 6 pounds)
  • 4 banana leaves

To Serve

  • Salpicon
  • 8 Mexican torta rolls or ciabatta rolls, for serving

Recipe Steps

1: Make the marinade: Place the achiote, garlic, pepper, salt, oregano, cumin, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and sour orange juice in a blender and blend until smooth.

2: Using the tip of a paring knife, make a series of 1/2-inch deep holes in the pork shoulder 2 inches apart. Place the pork in a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade. Place it in a deep bowl and marinate the pork in the refrigerator overnight, turning it several times so it marinates evenly.

3: Meanwhile, make the Salpicon.

4: If using a grill or smoker, set it up for indirect grilling and heat to 300 degrees.

5: Drain the pork shoulder well and wrap it in the banana leaves. Tie into a neat bundle with butcher’s string. Indirect grill the pork shoulder until cooked through and very tender and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees, about 5 to 6 hours, or as needed.

6: Transfer the pork to a large cutting board and let it rest for 20 minutes.

7: Unwrap the pork, discarding the butcher’s string and banana leaves. Save any juices that may have accumulated. Tear the pork into meaty shreds (it helps to use insulated rubber gloves or meat claws) or coarsely chop with a cleaver.

8: To serve, pile the shredded pork on the bread to make sandwiches. Spoon meat juices over the pork and top with the Salpicon. Alternatively, you can serve the pork on warm corn tortillas.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.