Dutch Oven Cochinita Pibil Tacos | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe

Dutch Oven Cochinita Pibil Tacos

3¾ hours 50 minutes active

Dutch Oven Cochinita Pibil Tacos

From the Mexican state of Yucatán on the Gulf of Mexico, cochinita pibil, in its most traditional form, is suckling pig (cochinita) that has been marinated in the juice of sour oranges and annatto, wrapped in banana leaves and slow-roasted in an underground pit (pib). The fork-tender meat is shredded and served with pickled red onions that offer a sharp, tangy contrast that offsets the richness of the pork. There are many simplified modern takes on the dish, including the pressure-cooked version that Jorge Fritz and Beto Estúa, proprietors of Casa Jacaranda cooking school in Mexico City, showed us how to make. This recipe is our Dutch oven-braised adaptation of theirs. Annatto (also called achiote) is a key ingredient in cochinita pibil; it’s the source of the dish’s characteristic red-orange hue. Despite its bold, vivid color, annatto is quite subdued in flavor, with hints of earthiness and pepper. We use achiote paste, which is made with ground annatto seeds plus other seasonings, all compressed into a small brick. Look for achiote paste, typically sold in small blocks, in the international section of the supermarket or in Latin American grocery stores. If not available, a substitute can be made by stirring together ¼ cup sweet paprika, 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon granulated garlic, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and 3 tablespoons white vinegar to form a stiff paste. Use in place of the paste called for in the recipe. We sought a substitute for the avocado leaves that Fritz and Estúa blended into the flavor base for their cochinita pibil. We discovered that fennel seeds nicely mimic the leaves’ anise-like nuances. Sour oranges, a common ingredient in Yucatecan cooking, are hard to come by in the U.S., so instead we juice regular oranges, but add a couple tablespoons of lime juice for tartness, stirring it in at the very end to preserve its brightness and acidity.

6 to 8



Don’t discard the fat that you skim off the cooking liquid after removing the pork. You will need 3 tablespoons of it for sautéing the onion and browning the shredded pork to finish the dish.

3¾ hours

50 minutes active

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