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Cochinita Pibil --- with Beef, is it doable or am I delusional?

So I had my heart set on making cochinita pibil for a holiday dinner for 15 people (Jewish new Year) and foolishly thought I could just sub in a different meat. But now that I am looking at it, it doesnt sound like the best idea. The reason I am fixated is that I want to impress relatives with the exotic banana leaves... even plantains... I looked around for beef or lamb in banana leaves and there are 2 options that come up:
Lamb Barbacoa http://www.patismexicantable.com/2012... OR
Beef with Guajillo saucehttp://www.food.com/recipe/beef-with-guajill...
oh yeah- and I even found an Omani lamb option...

I am now finding myself getting confused with the flavors and the cuisine (Mex vs ME) especially as the Barbacoa includes garbanzos which immed takes me to the ME.... I was going to use a rub of chiles and achiote and then have corn tortillas, but now that doesnt seem like it would work very well.
I need some clarity, some good advice and a dose of reality...
Thanks for all replies and suggestions (asap)!

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  1. Garbanzos are used in Mexico. Like beef, pork and lamb they came from Spain. There are also areas of Mexico, like Merida in the south, that are known for Lebanese influences.


    I don't know of any reason why an achiote based rub couldn't be used on beef. The heavy use of achiote is more typical of the Yucatan (and Oaxaca) than the rest of Mexico.

    is a Costa Rican recipe for beef with achiote.

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      interesting recipe and thanks for the response. the most important element to me is the banana leaves (exotic presentation) and as i thought, the sour orange doesnt really work with beef and certainly not lamb. in reading the recipe, it calls for achiote paste after the meat is done, to mix with the plantains? i have anatto seeds and i love the color and subtle flavor but wasnt sure it works with beef or lamb. do i just add in whole plantains into the banana leaf bundle and cook all together low and slow?
      what cut of beef do you recommend using that would be comparable to pork shoulder? i was thinking either short ribs or 7 bone chuck. i may just go nuts and mix it together with leg of lamb...

      1. re: laterible

        I think paulj is correct that you could do this with beef. I'm dubious about lamb in this recipe, and I am a huge lamb fiend.
        I think chuck would be perfect, actually.

    2. I'd say you could easily substitute brisket or chuck for pork. Most of the flavors would work very well (oregano, cumin, achiote, garlic, etc....). The recipes for cochinita pibil I've looked at don't use chiles, but that should work well too.

      Kenji Lopez Alt does a beef barbacoa recipe that you might like as well.

      1. Pavo(Turkey) Pibil is a good option if you do not want to do Pork,which for a Jewish holiday won't work. Same Marinade and method.
        We have often done it with Turkey Thighs at work and it is very good.
        You could also do Fish Filets rubbed with Achiote Paste wrapped in Banana Leaves.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefj

          Or chicken -- pollo pibil. And in fact if it's the banana leaf flair you're after, the chicken/turkey/fish options in a way make more sense because they're traditionally cooked and served in small banana leaf bundles whereas cochinita pibil isn't.

          And as sbp said dried chile is not typically used in these dishes. Like most Yucatecan cuisine they're not spicy on their own. (The habanero salsas they're served with on the other hand can be ferociously hot.)

          Oh and don't forget the pickled red onion. :)

        2. I could see the pibil spices working with beef but if the main star is the banana leaves, there are lots of kosher mains you could make. I use banana leaves to cook fish and tamales far more often and easily.

          1. I'm going to give it a shot with some beef stew meat today, I don't see why it wouldn't be pretty tasty.
            I will let you guys know how it comes out.
            BTW, have tried it with boneless skinless chicken thighs and it turned out GREAT.
            The only thing is you cook it for 1 hour less with chicken.
            BTW, I follow the spicehouse recipe, pretty much to the letter.

            1. cochinita means little (baby) pig. May be carne de res pibil?

              11 Replies
              1. re: genoO

                Faldo de Res Pibil (if using brisket)

                1. re: genoO

                  Cochinita is not the word for Baby Pig. It comes from the name of a small insect that was used as a Dye and in the Seasoning Pastes called a Cochineal. Later the tiny insects where replaced by Annatto/Achiote.
                  Pibil is a Cooking Pit

                  1. re: chefj

                    wrong, sorry. Cochinita is actually suckling pig. Whether now a days it is suckling is questionable but for certain very small and young. Come on down to Catemaco, I'll give you a tour.

                    1. re: genoO

                      Cochinillo is the name I learned for Suckling Pig.

                      1. re: chefj

                        You are probably using the spanish from spain, Castilian, where I am using the Mexican spanish.
                        most any word ending in "ita" means it is little.
                        Perro to perrita, gato to gatita , cochino to cochinita.

                        1. re: genoO

                          Yep, I get that. Though I know that I was told a History said the source of the Color, the Cochineal used in the Marinade was where the Name Cochinta was derived from.
                          I can fnd no referance to it so perhaps I was lead down the Jardin Path

                          1. re: chefj

                            Cochino is a Mexican word for pig, though it is also used as derogatory term people, as in 'you are such a pig ...'

                            1. re: paulj

                              also Marrano, Puérco and Cérdo
                              but what came first word Cochinita or the Cochineal.
                              There where no Pigs in Mexico before the Spanish so the Names for Pigs and Pork would have come from Spain and in Spain there is no word "Cochinita"
                              Yahoo Answers as a Source?

                              1. re: chefj

                                Other sources will confirm the cochino means pig or a dirty person.

                                1. re: chefj

                                  Seems to make sense, Spain brought pigs ( although I do not know this is true but whatever) to Mexico and then proceeds to steal all their gold and silver.
                                  Now,Spain is nearly broke with around 25% unemployment and Mexico is booming.....lending money to companies in Spain.

                      2. re: chefj

                        This source traces 'cochineal' to the French 'cochon'


                        Both the bugs and the seeds are indigenous to southern Mexico.

                    2. http://www.kiwilimon.com/receta/carne...
                      Chamorro de Res en Achiote

                      Beef shank rubbed with achiote and orange juice, wrapped in banana leaf (and foil).

                      kosher pibil - with brisket

                      1. Whatever you call it, it's down to about 30 minutes and smelling FANTABULOUS!

                        1. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness,,definitely try it with beef stew meat, it is DELICIOUS!!!