Cochinita Pibil, a dish from the state of Yucatan, is one of the most delicious in Mexico and, in addition, was recently named the best dish in the world in 2021. A popular search engine selected cochinita as the favorite on its interactive map, followed by iconic dishes such as Brazil’s Picanha, Poland’s Pierogi Ruskie, Thailand’s Curry Massaman, and Italy’s Trofie al Pesto. Cochinita pibil: a pre-Hispanic legacy. Not only is it delicious, but it also enjoys great cultural importance and its origins date back to pre-Hispanic times, starting with its name, which is related to the cooking method utilized: the piib. This underground oven of Mayan origin is equipped with hot stones or firewood, and the meat wrapped in banana leaves is placed inside. Due to the temperature the piib reaches, up to 200 ºC, the pork meat is usually so soft that it easily falls off the bones.
The recipe we know today also had Spanish contributions, as they introduced pork to Mexico. Therefore, this dish represents the perfect union between both cultures. Currently, this dish has great cultural relevance because it is part of one of the most important rites in the region: the Hanal Pixán, a celebration in which food and drink are offered to the souls of the faithful departed. During the celebration, the women cook food specially designed for the altars, among which the cochinita pibil is a favorite.
INGREDIENTS:• 75 g Achiote • 3/4 cup Seville Orange • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper • 1/4 Cinnamon stick • 2 cups Water • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin • 3 Leaves Bay leaf • 1 tbsp Salt • 1/4 cup melted lard • 1 Kg Pork butt roast with bone • 4 Pieces Roasted Banana Leaf • 2 Chiles Habanero sliced • 1 Red onion sliced • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice • 1/4 cup Orange juice • 1/2 tsp salt • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
Oven preheated to 180ºC 1. Blend the achiote with orange juice, pepper, cinnamon, water, cumin, bay leaves, salt, and lard; mix with meat and marinate 3 hours in refrigerator.
2.- Line a baking pan with the banana leaves, place the marinated meat and cover with banana leaves, and then with aluminum foil. Bake 2 to 2.5 hours at 180 °C; remove from oven. Shred the meat, place it in a pan along with its juice and simmer.
3.- For the red onions with habanero, mix the habanero peppers, red onion, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, and oregano. To roast banana leaves, heat them directly on the stove on low, constantly turning them to prevent them from burning. When the color has changed, they will be ready to use. 4.- Serve and accompany with pickled onion and habanero sauce.
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