This recipe for Mexican cochinita pibil (roasted baby pig) comes from my friend Marco, owner of Agave Restaurant in Bergen, Norway. In fact, he asked his mother in Mexico for her recipe, and was kind enough to share it with me. I adapted the cooking method for the slow cooker since I find that more convenient than the oven. The result was a tender, juicy and flavourful meat which was heavenly on warm corn tortillas.
As usual, the secret is in the sauce, or in this case the marinade and also the side sauce. The marinade itself is not very fiery spicy, but it is spiced with a powerful taste. To top it off, the spicy pickled onion sauce can be as spicy (or not) as you like. I do recommend that you make the sauce even if you do not like the habanero chilies, as it adds something extra to the flavour. We enjoyed this so much and it felt rather easy to prepare, even though the process took more than two days from start to finish.
In addition, although the ingredients looked quite exotic, they were relatively easy to source. I searched online for shops around London and found the banana leaves at Thai Food Online UK. Then I found the tortillas and habanero chilies at Mestizo Market.
2.5 kg pork (boneless shoulder or neck)
Banana leaves from Thai Food Online UK
Corn tortillas from Mestizo Market
Cilantro (coriander) leaves
5 Laurel / Bay leaves
3 oranges, juiced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white vinegar
50 g axiote powder
2- 5 red chili peppers, to taste
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp cumin
1 red onion, chopped
3- 4 garlic bulbs, grilled, peeled and crushed slightly
salt to taste (for me about 1/2 tsp)
1/4 red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 or more habanero chili, chopped (to taste) from Mestizo Market
2 limes, juiced
Blend all marinade ingredients together then rub over the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator for one to two days.
Traditionally this would be slow cooked wrapped in banana leaves. For simplicity, I suggest cooking this in a slow cooker. Just line the slow cooker with the banana leaves, put the whole piece of pork on top and cover with banana leaves. Then cover with the lid, and slow cook it over low heat for about 8 hours. At the end of the day it should be soft and juicy, and easy to shred the meat.
For the sauce on the side, mix together the onions, vinegar, habanero chili, and lime juice.
Serve the pork with warm corn tortillas, sauce, and cilantro.
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