Food For Thought: Yucatan Pork Pack Revealed | KNKX

Food For Thought: Yucatan Pork Pack Revealed

Jun 29, 2016

Cochinita Pibil, the Yucatan-style roast pork is smoked and slow roasted in banana leaves.  My mistake was trying to smoke it in a gas grill.  After 30 minutes over max heat my little disposable aluminum tray of wood chips was barely scorched, let alone smoking.

When I complained  to Nancy Leson she replied "Look Stein, you just need to go buy yourself a human-size Weber grill."  By "human sized" I think she meant a grill able to accommodate big hunks of meat on one side and charcoal and wood chips on the other.  At least I hope that's what she meant.

That's what I'll do next time.  And there will be a next time because even un-smoked that pork pack came out beyond delicious.  

I'd never heard of this dish until I read about it on the Serious Eats site.  But once I did it looked like so much fun to make – especially the marinade – that I had to give it a try.   .

On the pink plate, clockwise from 7: Annatto (achiote) seed, dried and fresh oregano, Ceylon cinnamon, whole black pepper. Orange plate: charred garlic cloves. 11 O' Clock: orange and lime juice mixture.
Credit Stein

I fried all that stuff on the pink plate in a little oil, then fed it into a blender along with the charred garlic and citrus juice.  I rubbed the mixture onto a four pound hunk of pork butt and sealed it in a Ziploc overnight.

Next morning, I topped it with bay leaves, sliced onions and peppers to preserve moistness, then wrapped it in the banana leaves, which you can find frozen in most Asian markets.

My attempt to smoke it in the gas grill was a flop, so I just put the package into the oven on a sheet pan at 250 for four hours.  Heaven.

When it came out, we pulled the meat apart with forks and gobbled it with tortillas, marinated red onions and a blistering habanero salsa.

"Pulled pork jokes never get old." – Joel Edgerton