puerco pibil

Probably everyone's favorite meal from our vacation was puerco pibil (one of the dinners I prepared). Of course, that is an unofficial statement that I pretty much made up, but this tender, deeply spiced pork really stole the show without requiring much effort.

If you can muster up the energy to grab a couple new spices from the store, cube some pork butt, and use your blender, then you can easily prepare an amazing meal for dozens of people at a time. Ever since Chip showed me the special features on Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which include a cooking class on puerco pibil with director Robert Rodriguez, this dish has been a never-fail staple.

It's easy. It will never let you down. And it gracefully accepts whatever you choose to pair with it. This time I prepared some refried black beans, by sauteeing some peppers, onion and garlic with black beans and smashing them. Then I threw some red onions and corn on the grill, whipped out a batch of homemade salsa, and heated up some tortillas.
It was incredible.

puerco pibil

5tbsp whole annato seeds
2t whole cumin seeds
1 tbsp peppercorns
8 whole allspice seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves

Grind the above in a spice mill/coffee grinder.

2 habanero chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
8 cloves garlic
Juice of 5 lemons
splash tequila

Combine the above with the spice mix in a blender, and puree.

5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag and mix well. Line a 9x13 pan with banana leaves; add the pork mixture; fold over the leaves to cover, then cover tightly with foil. Alternatively, just wrap the whole thing in a foil packet. Bake 4 hours at 325.

adapted from Robert Rodriguez