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Jan 5, 2008 10:23 AM

Cochinita Pibil (split from LA board)

Dommy, my gf and i just got back from Cancun/Tulum and, although not so close to Chichen Itza and Merida area, we tried our best to look for cochinita pibil. We could only find a corner cart that did pollo pibil.

So Chichen Itza, Babita and Loteria?

if you have a good recipe link, i'd love to have it. thanks.

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  1. Yeah, that area is TOTALLY touristy/generic now (especially with the influx of Mexicans from other regions coming into to work at the industry.) Even the few members of my family that work there complain that they have to come to Merida to get decent ANYTHING. Next time you go... PLEASE make the effort to go into Merida. Its actually really easy and a nice trip (The first class buses there are better than our greyhound here!) But I digress...

    I've tried all those you listed... and my answer remains the same as above, the BEST BEST (Aside from my mother's of course) is Flor de Yucatan bakery.

    As for a recipe... You can use just about anyone. My mother actually just uses El Yucateco Recado cut with Sour Orange (We have a 'source'...) but what makes her out of this world is fresh banana leaves, tosses in a head of garlic and the SECRET is making sure to throw in a couple of pig ears. Only pig ears have the gelatin in them to provide the proper body to the 'juice' so it holds the flavor of the pork and banana leaves. Without it, it's just watery and semi-flavorless broth. This is where SO many places fall short, I know instantly when a chef is afraid to throw in some ears or at least conpensate for it...



    6 Replies
    1. re: Dommy

      P.S. La Flor uses pig ears... if you ask nicely and get there early enough... they might even give you one... ;)


      1. re: Dommy

        PPS... the family who runs the joynt is actually REALLY REALLY nice... and treat their Non-Mexican/Spanish speaking customer with the same care and respect that they do their brethern like me. So although it's not as nice as experience as Babita or Chichen Itza (Both of which are wonderful and should be visited lots!!) its also nothing to be intimidated about...


        1. re: Dommy

          Dommy, thanks so much. We thought about going to Merida, but with a 6 hour bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca, another bus ride just didn't seem enlightening. We met a nice waiter at a bar from the Chichen Itza area, and kept trying to push us to go. now i regret.

          i've added the 3 restaurants + Flor de Yucatan Bakery to my yelp list. Love the idea of using fresh pig ears. I can easily get those at a Chinese market, so when i make this, i will be going for the Yucatan Gold.

          Not sure how authentic it is, but thought this video on puerco pibil was helpful. By director Roberto Rodriguez...

          Laurie, I saw that link as well. I like to collect 4 or 5 recipes and find out the common ingredients before starting the cooking.

          1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

            WOW!! Bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca!! You got my total props for that! :D

            Alright... The order should be Flor de Yucatan... to set the standard... then Chichen Itza, but order it in the Torta so you get the full impact of their 'juice'... one of the BEST sandwiches in the city PERIOD.
            Then Babita, I think they offer it in an appetizer, because it'd be shame to miss something like his famous lamb shank or shrimp when there... Finally Loteria... just eat one taco and you'll get why I sneer at them everytime I walk past.. and then go eat at another stall...


            1. re: Dommy

              haha thanks. oaxaca, by far, was my favorite place for food. check tomorrow on my blog for photos/posting on mexico.

              thoughts on yuca's cochinita pibil?

              1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                Dommy, if you're interested... my trip to Oaxaca is up. cheers.

    2. There's an easy-looking recipe for cocinita pibil in Rick Bayless' cookbook, Mexican Everyday, in which the spiced meat is cooked in a banana leaf-lined slow cooker. I haven't tried the recipe, but everything else I've tried from the cookbook is great (it's one of my favorites). If you try it, please let us know how it works out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: laurie

        I believe Bayless also presents a pollo pibil recipe in "Authentic Mexican" and gives directions for making it with pork shoulder as a variant of the chicken recipe. Also, I'm fairly sure that in "Authtentic Mexican", he does NOT describe how to make either dish using a slow cooker. So, if the OP doesn't have that appliance, this distinction might be worth considering.

        1. re: laurie

          I've tried it and it works well, it disappears quickly. I saw it on his cooking show when he did the whole back yard pit thing. He does a quick aside in the beginning about doing it in a crock pot.

        2. In May of last year, the LA Times Food section ran a feature story covering the subject of cochinita pibil. The article contained the recipes and commentary from both Loteria and Chichen Itza. The original story by Betty Hallock is no longer freely available on the Times website. However, it was picked up and published by the Savannah (GA) Morning News. You can find it on their site at the following link:

          1 Reply
          1. I have made this recipe:

            The only changes I made were to cook it in a dutch oven (didn't have banana leaves on hand). It was quite awesome; however, it did not taste like the cochinita pibil we ate in the yucatan... oh well.

            The hands-down absolute best CP we ate anywhere was in the town right near Chichen Itza ruins (Piste I think it's called). We got up super early before walking to the ruins and wandered through town to see if there was any early food to be had. In the 'market' area across from the main grocery/tienda (where the road splits) was a guy with a food stand and a huge crowd around him. He had a whole roasted pig in a metal box and was selling it in to-go bags, tortas, tacos, etc. We got tortas and were able to specify which parts of the pig we wanted (for Joshua, a bit of everything; for me, "pura carne por favor"). It was one of the best things we ate in our 6 months in Mexico.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TimeMachine

              Oh yeahhhhh, by far the best CP I've EVER had was in Piste a few years back!! When we were again in the area a couple years later, we could no longer find the spot where we'd gotten it to begin with. Oh, well. . . .

            2. We've made Cochinita Pibil a couple of times now using a combination of the Rodriguez video and a recipe by Rick Bayless. You can see pictures here:


              Here's our take on the recipe:

              2 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
              1 teaspoon cumin seeds
              1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
              5 whole allspice berries
              5 whole cloves
              1 (2-3 inch) stick cinnamon
              1 habanero pepper, seeded
              1/2 cup orange juice
              1/3 cup lime juice
              3 tablespoons lemon juice
              1 tablespoon salt
              4 garlic cloves
              Dash tequilla
              3 pounds boneless pork butt, cut in 2-inch squares
              Banana leaves

              Grind the annatto seeds to a fine powder using an electric spice grinder. Repeat with the cumin seeds, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon and cloves.

              Place the liquids, salt, garlic, habanero and powdered spices into a blender and blend well. Combine the marinade with pork chunks in a large ziplock bag. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.

              Line a baking dish with banana leaves that have been softened over a flame or hot burner. Pour the pork and marinade into the dish and wrap with the leaves. Cover the pan with foil and roast in a preheated, 325 degree oven for 4 hours. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes. Serve with plain rice and a simple green salad.