Thursday, 21 November 2013

Achiote-Roasted Pork Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

I first made this dish from the Mexican Yucatan region for a Midwinter Solstice celebration several years ago. I like this recipe because most of it can be done in advance, so that I can be with my family and friends.

It is easy to make, looks and smells delicious, and will make your guests think you slaved for hours to make it.

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

Serves 6 to 8

Achiote pork tacos

Garlicky Achiote Paste

2 Tablespoons achiote seeds
2 teaspoons allspice, preferably freshly ground
1 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 generous teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons Seville orange juice OR 50ml fresh lime juice plus 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

Finely pulverise the achiote seeds in a spice grinder. Transfer that to a small bowl and add the allspice, pepper, Mexican oregano, and vinegar. Mix to make a crumbly, thick mixture.

Roughly chop the garlic, sprinkle with the salt, and work the two into a smooth paste with the side of your knife. Add the achiote mixture and work the two together, then dribble on enough water to make a thick, but spreadable paste. This will take 1 - 2 Tablespoons water, added slowly.

In a large bowl, mix together the achiote seasoning and juice. Lay in the meat, turn it over to cover every bit, cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.


Remaining ingredients:
900gm (2 pound) piece lean, boneless pork shoulder
two 30 X 45 cm pieces banana leaves (if you can find them)

Turn on the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3.
Use a large, ovenproof pot.
If using, drape the 2 banana leaves over the bottom and up the sides of the pot in the shape of a cross.
Set the meat in the middle, scraping all the marinating juices on top.
Fold the banana leaves over the meat to enclose it.
If you're not using the banana leaves, just scrape the marinade over the top of the meat.

Drizzle 250ml water around the meat, cover it tightly, and roast it in the oven until it is very tender and the meat falls apart. About 3 hours.

Occasionally check the liquid level in the pot, add more water if needed.

Remove the meat to a cutting board. Pour the juices into a large jug or gravy separator. Let both cool slightly. Spoon the fat off the juices.

Roughly chop or shred the meat, sprinkle with a little salt and return it to the pot.

Pour a small amount of the juice onto the meat to keep it moist. Cover the meat and keep it warm over a low heat.

Transfer the remaining juices to a small saucepan. If you have more than 250 ml (1 cup) juices, boil to reduce it further. Then remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

      These recipes came from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

Make it in advance

This recipe can be made two or three days ahead of time up to this stage.
Cover and refrigerate the meat separately from the juices.
Reheat the meat and the juices before serving.

To serve

16 to 18 fresh corn tortillas
Pickled Red Onions
Coriander (cilantro) to garnish

Steam the tortillas to warm them. Keep warm while serving.
Place the shredded meat on a serving platter.
Garnish with the sprigs of coriander, if desired.
Roll 2 generous tablespoons of meat into each tortilla.
Top with a bit of the meat juices along with some of the pickled onions.

Pickled Red Onions

pickled red onions


Peel and thinly slice 1 small red onion. Blanch the slices in boiling salted water for 45 seconds, drain and place in a medium-size bowl.

Coarsely grind 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano in a mortar or spice grinder, then add the parboiled onions.

Add 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 80ml cider vinegar plus enough water to barely cover.

Stir well and let it stand for several hours.