Servings: 8 Prep: 15 mins Cook: 9 hrs Total: 1 day
I have a weird fascination with Cochinita Pibil (Buried Baby Pig). This is a near ancient dish, harking from the Mayan people in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. If you’ve never had it, stop what you’re doing, start making some calls and track down the ingredients. There are only two truly odd ones (achiote paste and banana leaves), with only one being an absolute must (the achiote).
If I had to compare it to something, it most closely resembles BBQ Pork from the Eastern part of North Carolina. It’s a somewhat spicy and tart flavor. Recipes vary, but it’s usually a shredded pork, with sour orange, and achiote pasta (a paste made from the annatto seed). It’s easily one of my favorite things on this planet.
Pork was introduced to the Mayans by the Spaniards, hundreds of years ago. They Mayans would take whole baby pigs, marinate them in indigenous herbs, spices, citrus and achiote for a night or a day. Then, they would make a fire at the bottom of a pit, wrap the pork in banana leaves, then bury the whole package underground where it would slowly cook, as the acid from the citrus continued to break down the tough meat.
Seeing as I’ve lived about 25% of my life in Mexico, I like to be culturally sensitive, as often as possible. This mind blowing and historic Mexican recipe can only be described as “El Yummo!” 😉
Y es chingon, también!
Note: We’re going to substitute a crock pot for a hole in the ground. We’re also going to substitute a pork shoulder (Boston Butt) for a suckling pig. Finally, if you cannot find banana leaves (often found in both Latin and/or Asian markets), you can go without, but the achiote paste is a must!
Photo Note: Final photo taken with pickled onions and cheddar taco shells.
Slow Cooker Cochinita PibilPrint Rate
- 1 each orange
- 1 3.5 oz box (about 1/3 cup) achiote paste
- 2 each jalepeno chillies seeds removed
- 2 tsp cumin seed ground
- 1 tsp coriander seed ground
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- 1/2 tsp cloves ground
- 1/2 bunch cilantro washed and stems removed
- 12 each garlic cloves sliced into 1/8th inch thick "chips"
- 1/2 cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1 each pork butt bone-in (also known as "shoulder" or "boston butt" ... about 5 to 6 lbs)
- 3 each banana leaves (optional but recommended)
- salt and pepper to taste
- With a vegetable peeler, peel 6 nice strips of JUST the outer orange rind, trying not to get any of the white pith. The strips should be about ¾-inch by 3 inches. Set aside. Juice the orange and set aside. Discard the rest of the orange.
- In a blender, combine orange juice, rind, achiote paste, lime juice, jalapeños, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
- With a paring knife, or a sharpening steel, deeply puncture the pork, repeatedly, making 20 to 30 deep holes around the entire surface of the meat.
- In a large bowl or storage container with a lid, liberally rub the achiote mixture from the blender all over the outside of the pork, pushing some into the holes of the pork, as well. Pour any remaining marinade over the top of the pork. Cover and refrigerate over night.
- Highly suggested, but optional step: You will want 3 nice clean and un-cracked sections of banana leaves about 1 ½ feet by 3 feet in length. Line the inside of your slow cooker with banana leaves, making sure that large flaps hang over the outside of the crock pot.
- Place the pork in the slow cooker, and pour the marinade over the top of the pork. If you used banana leaves, wrap the flaps over the top of the pork, to completely cover it, making a nice tidy little package.
- Turn the cooker to low and cook for 8 to 9 hours.
- When the meat can be easily shredded with a fork, remove it from the crock pot and shred. Add enough of the remaining juice to keep it nice and moist.
- (Optional step: I LOVE the juice at the bottom. Many simply discard it, at this point, but I will put it in a pan and slowly reduce it until it's like a thin BBQ sauce. Then, I drizzle it over the top of my meat. With the pickled onions and some salsa ... it's FANTASTIC!)
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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition …
20 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil”
First, I am very psyched to see the recipe for conchinita pibil, which I have intended to try cooking for many years. You may even have inspired me to get my unused slow cooker out of its box!
Second, as much as I love you and your recipes, I am NOT joining Facebook. I am really bummed that you are putting most of your efforts there. Your recipes rock!
I am not sure whether my email address shows up in the comments area, so I am not including that. We have corresponded a bit in the past, but I am a lousy correspondent, and you are increasingly busy.
Hi Jean B!
I wouldn?t say I?m putting MOST of my efforts on Facebook. I tried sending daily emails and updates through my email list and people cancelled left and right. People seem to be fussy about their email, whereas Facebook REWARDS constant activity. It?s a vehicle that suits a more constant and fluid interaction than my website does. It?s not that I?m putting most of my efforts there, it?s just that it?s a different aspect of my world, and one in which I feel has a greater impact on the whole. It?s tough to explain! That said, I encourage you to get a Facebook account to see! I personally never signed up for it, because it seemed strange and I didn?t want to get into that whole social networking world, but ? now that I?m a part of it, I completely understand why it?s so successful! You can sign up under a fake name and just use that account to sign up for pages like mine that focus on Food. I?m sure there are pages on culinary history, as well! Sign up for those! In that way, you?re just using it in a manner similar to a News Feed, as opposed to TRUE social networking. It?s anonymous and you benefit from the constant daily stream of people trying to post interesting, entertaining, informative and engaging things! Just a thought ? Thanks for the kind words, as usual! Finally ? if you post your email address in the box, it doesn?t get shared. In fact, it doesn?t even get saved by the system. It just allows me to reply directly to your comment, in this one instance.
I remember you fondly! I?m sorry our banter broke down, but you?re correct! Busy busy busy!
Is the Anchiote paste gluten free?
Hi Liese, at its core, it’s gluten-free. However, if you’re celiac, it might be worth a call to the company to verify that it’s processed in a gluten-free factory. Here’s some info I got from the company website … "Yes, it is gluten-free but does contain corn products such as corn flour and corn meal; celiac’s with allergies to corn should probably consult their physician before using Achiote.
Traditionally, gluten is defined as a cohesive, elastic protein that is left behind after starch is washed away from wheat flour dough. Only wheat is considered to have true gluten; when celiac patients talk about "gluten-free" or a "gluten-free diet," they are actually talking about food or a diet free of the harmful peptides from wheat, rye, barley, and (possibly) oats." I hope this helps!
I am interested in trying this in my new electric pressure cooker when it arrives next week. Your thoughts or concerns? It sounds delish.
Hi Unknown, I’ve honestly never used a pressure cooker. My VERY basic understanding is that it’s essentially something like a fast slow-cooker. I strongly suspect that this would be a great recipe for such a device, but I couldn’t even begin to suggest how it would work. Once you start using it, I’m sure it will become clear how to convert a recipe like this to your needs, but … because I’ve never used one, I hesitate to make any comments. Sorry!
Thanks for this recipe! My husband gives up meat every year for lent, so for Easter I try to find an interesting way of cooking a pork roast. He said that this one was his favorite one yet, and he’s requested it again for his Cinco de Mayo birthday.
The flavor is wonderful, the orange flavor and the cinnamon add some interesting notes. Slow cooking renders the meat tender and juicy. Reducing the cooking juices and using the sauce was a nice touch; my teens loved that.
I made a couple of changes; the first was to use only one jalapeno–although it was a big one. The second change was to use a slow cooker bag instead of banana leaves; our trees haven’t got big enough leaves yet!
Outstanding, Defessa! Anyone that stumbles on this little recipe and makes it is really in for a super treat! Using this for a Cinco de Mayo birthday is appropriate, as well! (interestingly my brother’s birthday is also May 5th). Tell your husband I said "Feliz Cumpleaños!" 🙂
Tried this recipe over the weekend with a 5 pound pork shoulder roast. My, oh my. I cannot say enough good things about it. Saturday afternoon, I created the marinade. Did the soak in marinade in a covered bowl in the fridge for a few hours, and then broke down and assembled the whole shebang inside the banana leaves inside the slow cooker’s crock. Put that in the fridge overnight, took it out and let it come up to room temperature for an hour or so and then started it in the slow cooker for an all day Sunday cook for Sunday night’s dinner.
I’ve only ever had pibil in restaurants before this. Having it at home was unfreakingbelievable. And delicious. Best yet? I. get. to. eat. this. all. week.
Made it with the pickled onion recipe (I omitted the jalapeño this time around). Ate it all with brown jasmine rice.
This recipe has gone from one of the top contenders in search results for cochinita pibil to a recipe that I’ll be making again and again and again.
YAY!!!! Thank you for reporting back, Susan!! I LOVE this kind of response! This is such a special recipe … I really hope a lot of people read this and share in your enthusiasm. It’s a few strange ingredients and ideas, but the end result is nothing short of amazing. Thank you, again, for reporting back! This one is one of my favorites! 🙂
Good afternoon DJ,
I’m falling in love with your recipes. I do have a favor to ask. Will you please include serving size in grams or some other indicator? Never mind I’ll do the figuring. Sorry to bother you. I know crazy that I’m going to finish this comment. Felt like the thing to do. At least you’ll get a good laugh for the day.
WHERE IS THE RECIPE FOR THE TACO SHELL THAT IS IN THE PICTURE.
Never mind I found the recipe for the cheddar taco shell
Hi Bonnie … I get this request quite a lot and I’m not fully sure how to remedy it. There are times where it’s easier than others, but … the reality is (as you’ve noticed) the information is already there. If you just add up the gram weights, you’ll see the total. I suppose I could do this mathematically and just add it to the calculations, but … that’s not the full story. In a lot of cases, there’s the concept of evaporation. As food cooks, water evaporates … meaning the final result will weigh less than the totals provided. There are no clean and clear cut ways to provide the information you’re seeking, that I’m aware of. The best I can really offer is … make the recipe and divide it into portions. That’s about it! Even that is WILDLY inaccurate. The information provided is also all wild generalizations, based on largely outdated averages (thanks, USDA!). I totally get it and I understand the question, but … I assure you … it’s not as easy as it seems it should be. Sorry!
Where can you find achiote paste? I am really looking forward to making this recipe.
How do you reduce the juices? I’ve never done this before.
Hi Ashley, a "reduction" means that something is boiled or simmered, causing the water in it, to evaporate. If you put a pot of boiling water on the stove and boil it, it will eventually largely evaporate, until there is nothing left! Through evaporation, you can create a "water reduction", which would be little more than the minerals in your water, stuck to the bottom of your pot. However, with something like a tomato sauce, or a chicken broth … or the drippings from cochinita … you would put the thinner liquid on the stove over medium heat and let it simmer for a while. The longer it simmers, the thicker the sauce will get, while also "reducing" (there will be less of it, because the water has evaporated, leaving concentrated goodness behind). Does this make sense?
Hi Mariella … Any Latin market would carry it. I’ve actually been able to find it in most all grocery stores. It’s always in the Latin section of the store, usually with lots of interesting dried chillies and other tasty Mexican products. You can also obviously order it, online.
Made this to the T. Banana leaves and all. Way too much for me or my picky eating family, so I took it up to my favorite Mexican restaurant. They made me some tacos and I shared the rest with all the staff. Must have been good as the entire batch was gone in 30 minutes.
—Reply posted by DJ on 8/12/2015
Hi E T, I can’t tell if you’re saying it was too much food, or “too much” of something else. Ultimately, it sounds like it was fully enjoyed by some restaurant staff. It’s a really fantastic recipe, in my opinion … and at the very least, I’m thrilled it was enjoyed! 🙂
I made this last year and it was fantastic! Since im back on the low carb train, im making it again but happy to have found a source for
banana leaves! Yay! First time I did without, but it still came out fantastic!
—Reply posted by DJ on 6/25/2018
Yeah, I’ll admit … this one is a true favorite of mine, through and through! I’ve got a big smoker and typically do it in that, but otherwise … no changes whatsoever. Welcome back to the train! 😀