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Food

How to Make Cochinita Pibil: Yucatán-Style Pork Tacos Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

Cochinita pibil tacos are no mere pork tacos. Their fiery hue and smoky-sweet spiced flavor is a showstopper in the taco world, especially when topped off with the bright tang of pickled onions.

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What Is Cochinita Pibil?

Cochinita pibil is suckling pig marinated in citrus juice, garlic, and orange-hued achiote paste, then wrapped in banana leaves and roasted in a traditional Mayan underground pit called a pib. It’s a regional delicacy that originated in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

While cochinita pibil is traditionally made with suckling pig, it may be easier to use pork shoulder or pork butt. They have more fat than a cut like tenderloin, which ensures a juicy end result after a low and slow cooking time. When prepared in this way, pork butt and shoulder have a similar texture to other pulled pork dishes like carnitas.

Conchinita Pibil includes the use of achiote, a spice paste made of ground annatto seeds and vinegar, along with coriander seeds, Mexican oregano, ground cumin seeds, garlic, and other spices, which is available at many Latin grocery stores as well as online.

Yucatán-Style Cochinita Pibil Tacos Recipe

Yucatán-Style Cochinita Pibil Tacos Recipe

Serves
4 to 6
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
8 hr
Cook Time
7 hr

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt (if wrapping in a banana leaf, leave whole; if using a Dutch oven or slow cooker, cut into more manageable pieces)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (you can also use half grapefruit juice in order to mimic the slightly more bitter orange juice from Seville oranges featured in Yucateco recipes)
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice, from about 6 limes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4–5 tablespoons achiote paste, to preference
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2–3 large banana leaves
  • Butcher’s twine
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Corn tortillas, for serving

For the pickled onion:

  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Place pork in a deep baking dish or roasting pan and allow to come to room temperature.
  2. To make the marinade, combine the citrus juices, achiote, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour over meat, and coat thoroughly with your hands. Let rest for at least one hour.
  3. While meat is marinating, make the pickled onions. In a medium bowl, combine the diced red onion, peppercorns, ½ teaspoon salt, sugar, and vinegar. Let sit in the fridge, stirring occasionally until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lay clean banana leaves in an overlapping pattern on a clean work surface. Place the marinated meat in the center, and top with bay leaves. Fold banana leaves up and over the meat, forming a tight parcel; secure with butcher’s twine and return to roasting pan. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake pork for 3–4 hours, checking periodically through the leaves, until fork tender.
  6. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Shred meat using two forks (mix in any remaining braising liquid if it seems a little dry) and serve immediately with pickled onions, cilantro, and tortillas on the side.

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