Slow Roasted Pork with Achiote (Pibil Cochinita)

0 Posted by - June 24, 2013 - Kitchen, Mexican

If you missed it, the results from the #weekendfoodpics challenge are up.

I’ve had this dish across Central America, but it’s incredibly simple to make, and it’s a beautiful shredded pork that you can use in any Mexican dish from quesadillas to panuchos (tortillas grilled in lard with refried black beans and meat topping served open-faced) — and everything in between. It uses one ingredient that might be tricky to find depending on where you are and that’s Achiote, the deep red condiment that gives it that color and distinct flavor. It’s made from the Achiote flower and it may be called Annatto in the US. You may be able to find it in any Mexican or Spanish-cooking sections of your grocery, way, way up on the top shelf.

The dish itself is very easy, it just needs time. It takes about 15 minutes to prep, then 12 hours to marinate, then stick it in the oven for 2 – 2.5 hours. I served it with simple white rice and fresh tortillas but you can do almost anything with the meat once it’s done.


I used a recipe from my Mexican cookbook, although I adapted it because I couldn’t find banana leaves (not necessarily but nice if you have access to them).



1/2 red onion

3 cloves of garlic

5 black peppercorns

2 cloves

100 g achiote paste

3/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons apple vinegar

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1.5 kg (about 3.3 lbs) pork shoulder (with some fat on it)

banana leaves (if you can get them)

salt as needed



2 Red onions cut into rings

A little oil for grilling

1 habanero

cilantro (if you want)

(Note: the original recipe called for the onions to be boiled and strained, but I decided to sauté them instead).


To make the marinade, dice your onion and garlic and grill it up until soft.

Put the grilled onions and garlic, plus the peppercorn, cloves, achiote paste, orange juice, apple vinegar and oregano into a blender and pulse until smooth. This is what Achiote looks like:

Cut your pork shoulder into 2 inch cubes and place in a pan.

Cover with the marinade.

Looks amazing. Then stir it a bit, cover it and stick in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C) and cover the pan with 3-4 layers of tin foil to form a tight seal. If you had banana leaves, you would put the meat in the leaves first, fold them up like a package, stick it into the pan, then cover with tin foil.

Prep the topping by grilling up the red onions and a little diced habanero (remove the seeds first).

After about 2 hours, check it, cut one piece open and see if it’s done, if not leave it in for 15 – 30 more minutes. Once it’s ready, you just shred it with a fork a little and stick it on top of some rice, so easy:

We also made fresh tortillas (my tortilla tutorial is coming soon):

And here’s my artsy version of it, which my friend says makes it look “weird” but I still like it:

And then we were quiet, very, very quiet, for about five minutes:

  • Carmel

    I love the pig lounging on the front of that box of achiote.

  • Michelle

    This looks incredible!

  • Harriet

    Gosh, this is making me sooo hungry – looks amazing :)

  • Sony Xperia V GPS

    Food can sole us. Different types of cuisines are indeed tempting and always makes us hungry.

  • Simon

    I make a big batch of this using my recipe every six weeks. It freezes well and is delish. If you’re in the UK you can get the paste from

    Great blog post yet again

  • MilePro

    That looks amazing and doesn’t seem too hard to prepare… I will definitely give it a shot. The picture with the rice is what hooked me.. Thanks for the recipe