Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Puerco Pibil (Slow Roasted Pork)

I tend to define people by how they approach food. Socio-economic background, appearance, what they do for work, their nationality-- none of that is important to me, all I care about it how they eat. By 'how they eat' I mean, do they love food or do they view eating as a necessary chore to be completed three times a day?Adimittedly unfair, I have no tolerance for the latter of those gastronomic groups.

So, when my friends Greg and Suzy (also Americans) called the other night and asked if they could come by immediately to share the best slow-roasted pork they have ever made, in my estimation, their stock doubled. They arrived, Peurco Pibil, condiments and tortillas in hand. I was already in my pijamas, but that didn't matter because they had no intention of staying; they only wanted me to taste this gastronomic feat.

And it was fantastic. Really special and worth the time put into slow roasting the meat. Try this dish the next time you have friends around, it is a great one to share.

Greg attributes this recipe to the film maker, Robert Rodriguez
You'll see my adjustments in the [  ].

5 Tbsps. annatto (achiote) seeds
2 tsps. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
8 allspice berries
½ tsp. whole cloves
2 habanero chiles
½ cup orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
2 Tbsps. salt
8 cloves of garlic
Juice of 5 lemons
Splash of tequila
5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2'' chunks

Banana leaves or heavy-duty aluminum foil [or a turkey baking bag]

1) Place the annatto, cumin, peppercorns, allspice and cloves in a spice grinder and process to a fine powder. Carefully remove the seeds and veins from the chiles and chop coarsely. (Removing the veins and seeds ensures the dish is fiery but not painfully hot. You can also substitute a milder chile.)
2) Process the orange juice, vinegar, chiles, salt, garlic and spices in a blender or food processor until liquefied. Add the lemon juice and tequila.
3) Place the pork chunks into a large, self-sealing plastic bag with the marinade. Seal bag and turn to evenly coat the meat. Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
4) Heat oven to 325 degrees [or as low as 275F-- the lower the temperature, the longer to roast, the better the flavour]. Remove the meat from the marinade, wrap tightly in banana leaves and/or foil or place into the turkey baking bag so no steam can escape [add in a bit of the marinade to keep the meat moist during cooking, especially if cooking at the low temp for longer]. Place packet in roasting pan and roast four hours [or longer, up to 8 hours, if roasting at 275F temperature]. Open packet carefully. [Remove the meat from the juices, use a defatter to get rid of most of the fat, and there will be quite a bit. Reserve the juices to drizzle over the meat].The meat should shred easily with a fork. [Place back into the defatted juices]

Shred and moisten with pan juices. Serve with rice or use as taco filling. Makes 15 servings.

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