Cochinita Pibil


You may recall from a couple of weeks ago that, following some (fairly comedic)  intervention on CB’s part, the delivery man left our little household with 3kg of pork shoulder. The first one we used to make our delicious Bafat Pork Curry and the rest was lovingly crafted into this absolute winner.

First – some thoughts on kitchen equipment: Our kitchen is fairly modest. The few gadgets we have pretty much begin and end with a spice grinder and a hand blender. Both were under £30 on Amazon (if you’re interested, this James Martin Spice/Coffee Bean Grinder and this  Andrew James hand blender). These have become pretty crucial tools for us in the kitchen. This recipe uses the spice grinder and if you’re wondering whether it’s worth it and looking for a sign, this is it. We’re constantly reminded how amazing it is. Just last week, CB crafted a home made Garam Masala that basically showed us how useless the store bought stuff is. More on that mix another time!


This is a dish that we used to order from Wahaca (you may recall when we spoke adoringly about the post-work-guacamole-and-corona sessions). Hungry for further Mexican recipes to enjoy Coronas with, we did some research on pork pibil and here we are!  Remarkably, we found Annatto seeds in New Loon Moon in Chinatown, London  for less than a quid and after that it was pretty much plain sailing. If you’re going ahead with this recipe, you’ll already have purchased a spice grinder (or have some pretty intense upper body strength) so don’t be tempted to get pre-ground allspice – buy some very inexpensive pimento seeds from Dunn’s River from your local large supermarket. There’s no excuse!

To go along with this, we made some DELICIOUS pickled onions and guacamole – don’t leave these out. Very simple and very tasty. Some further big flavours are added to serve. Don’t be reluctant to get involved but similarly don’t go crazy with the feta (CB had to stage one or two interventions for me on this matter – you’re not alone) – the big bright flavours might get the best of you.

This is a slow but good recipe – don’t be tempted to rush any of it and I’ve only got two further tips: don’t wear white while you make this, and make sure you’ve got some coronas chilling in your fridge before you start cooking. Time everything so it’s ready five minutes before your favourite Saturday Night TV show.

Serves 4-5


Achiote Paste (AKA. Red recado, annatto paste) – makes 4 tbsp
2 tbsp annatto seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 allspice berries (AKA whole pimento)
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 tsp oregano (Mexican oregano if you can get it) (we didn’t)

Cochinita pibil
900g pork shoulder (chopped into 1 inch cubes, including some fat)
2 tbsp achiote paste (difficult to get the store bought variety in the UK, so try this simple blend above)
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 habanero chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
80 ml fresh orange juice
80 ml fresh lemon juice
80 ml fresh lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper

To serve:
Corn tortillas / rice
Pickled red onions
Feta cheese
Fresh coriander
Refried beans (get a can of these from your local supermarket and heat as per instructions)


  1. Put all the achiote paste ingredients into a spice grinder and blitz until a fine powder (warning: the anneto seeds are particularly hard to break down – be prepared to spend some minutes getting a fine powder)
  2. Put the powder into a non-reactive bowl (the annatto will stain anything it touches) and add tsps. of water until you have a paste consistency
  3. Store 2 tablespoons of the paste for future use (it will keep for at least a month). To the remaining paste, add the remaining ingredients (excluding the pork)
  4. Rub the marinade over the pork pieces (again, using a non-reactive bowl) and leave to marinade overnight or at least for 5-6 hours in the fridge.
  5. Remove the pork from the fridge to bring it to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Empty the pork into a non-reactive casserole dish and seal tightly with foil and, where possible, a lid in order to prevent moisture from escaping – cook for at least 2 hours, or until the pork is very tender. (NB: we wrapped the pork in banana leaves, which are great at helping to retain moisture, and added a further foil cover).
  6. Serve on corn tortillas or with rice, alongside pickled red onions, fresh coriander, black beans and guacamole.

Author: Mandi

Twentysomethings in London trying to recreate some of the magic of professional cooking with a fraction of the budget and none of the skill.

10 thoughts

  1. Welcome to Fiesta Friday #41. That is quite a dish you’re bringing to the party today. All those flavors melding together, it has to be good. Thanks for your contribution, this will go down very well at our party. Happy FF!

  2. Looks delicious…wonderful flavors and seasonings! Thanks for sharing it with the party goers at Fiesta Friday. It’s definitely a yummy addition. 🙂

  3. I have never seen a recipe for this and it looks great, full of spices and flavours. Recipe added to my list of “must cook”!

  4. Great dish! Thanks for reminding me, it must have escaped me at the time! It’s good to know that you can get away without the more exotic ingredients and still get an amazing result, Mandi!

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