CARNE PIBIL : Pork In Banana Leaves With Achiote
The vibrant red color and distinctive flavor of this recipe come from the achiote recado, a spice paste made with annatto, the seed of a tree native to Central America. Long, slow cooking in banana leaves brings a taste of tropical Mexico to your slow cooker while replicating the traditional pit-cooking method that gives the recipe its name. Keep it simple and authentic by serving it with black beans, corn tortillas, and white rice, as well as fiery Mayan xni pec, a citrusy salsa laced with onion and habanero chiles. Fried plantains are an excellent accompaniment as well. Boneless chicken may be used instead of the pork shoulder.
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
3 ounces achiote paste
¼ cup peeled garlic cloves
2 serrano chiles, stemmed
½ cup diced white onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 (12-inch) pieces banana or plantain leaf (see Note)
½ cup water
Chopped fresh cilantro
Xni Pec Salsa
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin until fragrant, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. Let cool completely and grind in a spice grinder.
Combine the ground cumin with the achiote paste, garlic, serranos, onion, salt, vinegar, and orange juice in a food processor and process until very smooth. Coat the pork evenly with half of the spice mixture.
Line the bottom of a slow cooker with one piece of banana leaf. Top with the pork and the remaining spice mixture. Add the water and place the second banana leaf over the pork.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve with chopped cilantro and the salsa.
Fresh banana and plantain leaves can be found at Latin groceries. They should be washed and dried before use. Frozen banana leaves can usually be found in Asian markets
Xni Pec Salsa
Makes ¾ cup
Habanero chiles are extremely picante. It takes time for the full impact of the heat to travel through the salsa, so it’s wise to start with a small amount then taste again before adding more.
½ small red onion, diced
1 small Roma tomato, diced
½ teaspoon seeded and minced habanero chile
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes, then adjust seasoning with salt and more habanero, if necessary.