Puerco pibil

This is a dish that hails from the Yucatan region of Mexico. The one ingredient that may be a little challenging to obtain is annatto seed, if you don't happen to have a Latino grocery nearby. (I do have one, so I can get either ground annatto seed or achiote paste.) I can recommend getting a supply of the stuff, because once you taste this dish you'll crave it all day, every day, for the rest of your life.

This particular recipe comes from Robert Rodriguez, the film director, and was included as an extra on the DVD for "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". While the movie is something of a matter of tastes, the recipe is definitely a keeper. If you prefer things to not be fiery you can either just use a little bit of chipotle powder instead of the habaneros or just leave that part out altogether- but I recommend at least a little chipotle, maybe a half teaspoon.

Further notes: the banana leaves are not essential, they just make a nicer presentation. Also I tend to use about a half a cup of tequila rather than one shot, as that gives it a nicer flavor. (The alcohol boils off- don't worry, it's kid safe!) Five lemons is about a cup of lemon juice from a bottle, for those of us too lazy to squeeze lemons for ten minutes. I usually just throw everything but the pork into the blender and blast it that way, then pour that into the Ziploc bag with the pork. And finally, I use the pre-ground spices rather than grinding them myself as that's a bit of a pain in the butt.

So, without further ado: PUERCO PIBIL!

For the Achiote Paste:
5 tbsp annatto seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
8 pieces allspice
½ tsp cloves

In a spice grinder/mill grind all the ingredients for the Achiote Paste into a fine powder.
The the dish itself:

2.6kg of pork shoulder or butt cut into cubes (bite size works best)
banana leaves
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
Juice of 5 lemons
8 cloves garlic
2 habanero peppers, chopped
1 shot (or so) of the finest quality tequila you can manage (or the darkest Jose Cuervo you can find)

The method:

1. In a blender, blend annatto paste (spices), garlic, orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, chillies, tequilia and salt until smooth and well mixed.
2. In a large zip lock bag, add pork and the blended mixture and jiggle until evenly coated.
3. Leave in the fridge overnight to marinade.
4. Preheat oven to 135°C (275°F).
5. Line a deep roasting dish with the banana leaves, dump the pork mixture into the disk and cover with another layer of banana leaves.
6. Cover tightly with tin foil so the steam can’t escape and bake for 4 hours.
7. When it finally comes out, it should all fall apart when you dig a fork into it.
Serve on a bed of white rice, and some nice crunchy mild peppers, or try shredding the meat and eat it like a fajita in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato and sour cream.