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Vegetable Taco Fillings A Mexican love letter to Vegetables

Vegetable Taco Fillings_Ideas_ recipes _Yes, more please!

Feelings…. nothing more than Fillings”… Hello friends, we’re back.We have been on a roller coaster; from a vacation in Mexico, to Slow Wine Festival, meeting new people, giving cooking classes, Ian giving lots of photography classes…we have been busy, but you have always been on our minds.

Visiting my Mexico after more than eight years was reinvigorating. Being back in my birth country was very fulfilling and I felt my roots strongly. We were welcomed at the airport with a big familiar smile and , thankfully, we did not have to get in the long customs line. During the visit we could eat and breathe the delicious in-season ingredients that Baja produces; from papayas, to avocados, chiles, lettuce, pineapples, limes, guanabanas, tomatoes, chard, radishes, you name it!. I just felt like a fish back in the water, especially walking along the pristine coastline. Now I’m melancholic… its hard to forget the people, the laughs, the air and the sea… and the food. From freshness, flavor, aroma, ingredients, preparations, sazones… can you imagine? Good thing we just visited one little town…Phew!

I have harnessed the melancholy and channeled it into a love letter to every Vegan and Vegetarian who has felt neglected by the Taco Love. Yes baby, not one, not two, but EIGHT vegetable fillings that will add vitamin “V” (vegetable) on any Taco night!

Some are more seasonal than others but I kept in mind vegetables that can be accessible almost all year around. I came up with these delicious and simple variations with strong MEXICAN flavors, no wimpy vegetable tacos here.

You can whip-up these recipes any day of the week, choose one, or two, or three for variety sake or just try one each day and call it the Taco week. Want to go the extra mile? try  making your homemade tortillas here recipe and tutorial.

For this post we decided no step-by-step photos are necessary. These vegetable taco filling recipes are so easy to prepare using basic chopping, seasoning, and sautéing that you can make them faster than you can say chiffonade. All fillings are Gluten free, Vegetarian and Vegan, except for one filling, but I included some vegan substitutions.

I hope you enjoy this vegetable rant of inspiration while my inner Mexican is fully inspired. Enjoy!

P.S Recipes dedicated with love to the Panda’s and their Neighbors, thank you for your friendship. Xoxo

{Lately, we have been reading, and watching many documentaries that have resonated with and influenced our way of eating and cooking. For example we watched one about food production and agriculture. We are of the opinion that its a good idea to put more effort toward cooking a vegetable main dish more than once a week. Perhaps it should be the other way around, one day of meat and the rest days of vegetables as I rant on instagram… What you think?}

Vegetable Taco Fillings, a Mexican love letter to Vegetables

1.Roasted Cauliflower in Salsa VerdeCauliflower-in-Salsa-Verde_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

Holly shubangwuah!, I can eat this roasted Cauliflower in salsa Verde by the spoonfuls. Cauliflower when roasted becomes sweet and nutty and all this crispy salty edges that when in combination with the tangy spicy tomatillo salsa verde the flavors just warm you up. Leave this little florets navegate in the saucy verde salsa, be generous with the salsa.

A must try. You want to have this quick recipe under your sleeve for any given day of the week. Do not limit yourself using this recipe for just the taco filling. This delicious Cauliflower in salsa Verde can be serve on a bed or rice or a side of whole buttery beans and you have a winner for dinner. Garnish with queso fresco, a dollop of yogurt freshly made tortillas…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ Medium Cauliflower head separated in small florets.

12 medium Tomatillos peeled and washed.

1-2 Serrano chiles roasted until chard.

¼ white onion roasted until chard.

1 garlic clove

6-8 Cilantro sprigs

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon sunflower or corn oil + more to drizzle.

In a small pot

In a small pot place 1 cup of water, tomatillos cut in halves, a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tomatillos changed color, look olive-green, and they are smash-able. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven at 425 F. Place cauliflower florets, chiles, and onion piece on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle some oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast the Cauliflower for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and some chard edges showing. When chiles and Onion are charred, pull the baking tray out of the oven. In a blender add the cooked tomatillos strained, ¼ cup of water in which the tomatillos where cooked, charred onion, chiles, fresh cilantro, raw garlic, and few healthy pinches of sea salt. Blend until pureed.

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon sunflower oil or corn oil bring to heat, and carefully add the green sauce until bubbly, cook for 5-7 minutes. At this point add the roasted cauliflower florets, toss well, adjust for salt and its ready to serve!

2. Cremini Mushrooms Ajillo – GuajilloCremini Mushrooms Ajillo-Guajillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Mexico has a great variety of mushrooms and various preparations can be found. Often they are cooked in simple manners to make them shine. Like inside quesadillas, soups, or quick sautéed with herbs. My take on this mushrooms, a little butter, garlic and a hint of chile guajillo wich it adds a very settle flavor, not spicy at all but a punch of color and flavor to the sautéed creminis. I will highly recommend this mushrooms on top of queso fundido, quesadillas a bowl of buttery beans or with a sunny side up egg for breakfast. Honestly once you try these mushrooms you will be making a double batch next time…

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

16oz. Cremini Mushrooms sliced

2 dry Guajillo peppers

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 tablespoons sunflower oil-corn oil

3 tablespoons of butter (for vegans, use coconut oil)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Using Kitchen scissors cut the guajillo across and into small thin rings. Discard seeds and steam.

Bring a cast iron skillet to a medium high heat. Warm oil, place the guajillo rings and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy. Remove promptly from skillet into a paper towel. By now the oil color in the skillet looks bright orange. Add the sliced mushrooms, sea salt and black pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes until mushrooms start sweating and some of them have little golden crisp edges, add one more drizzle of oil if needed. Once the mushrooms start looking cooked, add garlic, butter and 12 pinches of salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the crispy Trujillo rings back into the skillet. Saute briefly until well incorporated. Remove from skillet and its ready to serve.

If you are on a spicier mode use a Pasilla, Ancho or Cascabel chile to bring out the heat. Or a dollop of this Mucha Muchacha Salsa.

3. Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor Sweet Potato and Pineapple Pastor_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Ok hands down my favorite Vegan-Pastor. These Sweet potatoes Pastor are the bomb.

Spicy Pastor adobo and the sweetness in the potatoes are a match made in heaven. The orangey color even helps to make them more visually appealing. The Pineapple is a must on this recipe, plan accordingly. Vegetarians, vegans and Meat lovers are gonna love this one.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 Medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into one inch batonnets

¼ cup white onion diced

2 chile chipotles en adobo

1 teaspoon anatto powder or achiote paste

½ tablespoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Mexican dry oregano

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup Fresh Pineapple

2 tablespoons Corn or Sunflower Oil.

On a blender, immersion blender, molcajete or mortar, combine until pureed the chipotles, achiote, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin powder, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt and vinegar. On a bowl combine the sweet potatoes and this chili pastor paste. Let marinate for at least 30 min. Best overnight.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat, add the oil until ripples, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the marinated Sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and they have a crusty golden char exterior. To achieve this crusty potatoes is best not to shake them to often, to allow them to get a crust. Make sure there is enough oil so they don’t scorch before they are tender and cooked, you can add another drizzle. Sweet potatoes should be a little aldente. Remove from skillet transfer to a bowl. Then add Pineapple slivers or little squares into the skillet and sauté for a few minutes. Add sweet potatoes back to the skillet and toss. Transfer to a platter and you are ready to make the tacos. I will recommend this tomatillo avocado salsa verde, it is part of other recipe look for it its amazing!..and of course a squeeze of lime… mmm..

4. Poblano and Sweet Corn RajasPoblano and Sweet Corn Rajas_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

This Poblano Corn and crema filling is very traditional and often used as filling for sopes, huaraches and tacos. Traditionally this recipe is made with white corn, to be honest if you can get fresh white corn for this recipe it will be fantastic. Living in the States, well you make some concessions and adjust to the best ingredients you can find. I used sweet yellow corn for this recipe and I think the sweetness of the yellow corn balances really well with the smokey and sometimes unexpectedly spicy roasted poblanos. Add an extra pinch of salt and you have one of the most scrumptious taco fillings. Check for Vegan substitutions at the end of the recipe.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2 ear of corn kernels

2 chiles poblanos, roasted or charred, skinned, deveined removed seeds and cut into long stripes. See this method

½ medium white onion

1 garlic clove minced

¼ -1/3 cup crema oaxaquena, mexican crema or heavy cream as last resource*

1 splash of milk.

1 Tablespoon Corn or Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

On a skillet over a medium heat, warm up oil and sauté the onions, until translucent. Add the corn Kernels, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the strips of poblano, and toss well. Add the crema, and a little splash of milk. Adjust salt and pepper, toss well. And bring to slow simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and they are ready to serve!

Vegan Substitutions: unsweetened coconut cream, or ½ coconut ½ tahini paste.

 

5. Kale a la Mexicana

Kale a la Mexicana_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please!

The easiest way to Mexicanize your vegetables is the tri-color ingredient, basic mexican recaudo, white onion, chile serrano and tomatoes. This recaudo is usually the base for scrambled eggs, “a la Mexicana, or other quick chicken or fajitas preparation. It is easy and a classic. Kale, Chard, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Purslane, Lambs Quarters, every green  “a la Mexicana” can be delicious.  Use different kinds of tomatoes, or kinds of fresh chiles can be a great variation.  I think is quick recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare and incorporate kale into the Mexican Table… Breakfast?…Put an egg on it, or make a taco with a scrambled eggs concoction. What you think?

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

½ medium yellow onion

1 Serrano small diced or thinly slices

3 cups Lacinato kale chopped into thin ribbons

½ cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet, over a medium high heat. Add oil and diced onions, quick sauté until translucent edges. Add Serrano, salt and pepper. Quick toss. Add Kale and vinegar, toss quickly and sauté until kale begins to welt. Add cherry tomatoes toss quickly until they warm up. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or platter serve immediately.

6. Chipotle Soy Picadillo Chipotle Soy Picadillo_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Picadillo is a typical homemade dish. One pot wonder, the original dish uses a combination of ground meat, lots of vegetables, sometimes you can find sweet picadillos for chiles en nogada, or like this version wich is the homestyle spicy chipotle version. I decided to use texturized soy wich is often used in vegetarian Mexican cooking. The brands I prefer, Bob Red’s Mill or Now Foods are my favorites they are organic and texture and taste is great. Yo also can find this TVP at Natural groceries  on the bulk section. This Picadillo its one pot wonder a great way to incorporate vegetables into this taco situation…I hope you like it!

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

1 cup texturized soy, follow the package instrucctions to rehidrate.

½ meddium size onion finelly chopped

1 garlic clove minced

4-5 Worcestershire sauce (if vegan, add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or a couple of sundry tomatoes, and a few more dashes of black pepper)

1 small potato small diced

1 carrot small diced

1 small mexican calabazita (light green zucchini) small diced

¼ cup peas

½ cup small diced tomatoes

2 chiles chipotles en adobo plus about 1 teaspoon of the adobo juices and purée it.

(I like “La Morena” or “San Marcos”Brand)

½ teaspoon dry Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon Corn, Sunflower oil, or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to your taste.

On a cast iron skillet, over medium hight heat, add the oil and onions until translucent. Add the diced potatoes, salt pepper, cover with a lid until potatoes are al-dente. Add garlic saute for 1 minute. Add the texturized soy and 4-5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Saute for 5 minutes. (Make sure the texturized soy is well hydrated, and remove all water excess before cooking) At his point add the diced tomatoes, the chipotle purée, and dry oregano. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water, carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper. Toss well. Lower the temperature, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes, until carrots are cooked but not mushy. At last, add the peas and toss, taste , adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off and cover with a lid until peas are cooked but still bright green. Serve immediately. This filling can be made in advance and it tastes even better the next day, Enjoy!

7. Nopalitos and Onions in Guajillo – Pasilla SauceNopalitos and Onions in Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy copy

Nopalitos Cactus plant is known to have a slimy reputation, but when you cook them right, and utilizing the right ingredients, Nopalitos are delicious. They are tangy and soft, the texture and flavor reminds me like if an ocra and a mushroom had a child. The guajillo – pasilla sauce add great flavor and contrast to the tangy nopalito flavor. Nopalitos beside being a nacional simbol on the Mexican flag, are the miracle vegetable. So many nutritious value and health elixirs attributes, you just want to start researching now!… Seriously, give these nopalitos a chance and you will love them.

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

6 Tender Nopalitos pieces, cut into small squares.

¼ medium size onion

6 sprigs of cilantro

4-5 tomatillo husks

1 chile serrano

1 teaspoon salt

½ onion diced

2 good drizzles of extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil.

For the sauce:

2 dry chiles pasilla

2 dry chiles guajillo

1 garlic clove

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon salt

Clean chiles and remove steams. On a small pot, place 2 cups water bring to a boil, add the chiles, simmer for 10 minutes until well hydrated, soft and plumpy. In a blender, purée the chiles, garlic, cumin, salt with about ¼-to a ½ cup of the water in wich the chiles hydrated.

Set aside. On another pot start cooking the Nopalitos. Add at least 4 cups of water, the nopalitos squares, onion, cilantro, tomatillo husks, chile serrano, salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Check for doneness. Nopalitos should look olive-green, and fork tender. Remove cooked onion, cilantro and serrano. Strain the nopalitos and let the heat evaporate the rest of the water in them. About 4-5 minutes. By any chance, rinse them in water. These will make them slimy.

On a skillet, warm up the oil and add the diced onion, along with the dry nopalitos. And saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the Guajillo-Pasilla Sauce, toss well, add about ¼ cup of water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium low for 4-5 minutes with lid on to avoid splatters. Turn off the nopalitos and they are ready to serve! You can sprinkle some queso fresco or cotija for a delicious accompaniment on the taco, and off course a few drops of lime juice, because what would be a taco with no lime right?…

8. Chard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot HashChard, Potatoes, and Shredded Carrot hash_Vegetable-Taco-Filling_Yes,-more-please! copy

This is the easiest of all the fillings. It is almost a hash. You can use spinach, purslane, kale or any type of green in season instead of the chard. Instead of potatoes you can use sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Carrots or/and yellow beets will work divine. This filling with an egg on it and a dollop of my favorite Mucha Muchacha Salsa, a match made in heaven. 

Serves 4-6 taco using regular size 5” corn tortillas

2-3 drizzles sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium wax yellow potato

1 small yellow onion diced

1 garlic clove

1-2 dry chiltepines…optional you can use pepper flakes for a less heated version.

2 carrots shredded or using one of my favorite tools  a  Julianne peeler. click here

4-5 cups Chard, cut into chiffonade

2 dashes of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon golden raisins

Salt pepper to taste

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish

On a cast iron skillet warm up the oil, saute potatoes and season with salt and pepper until potatoes are crispy. At this point add the onions , garlic and dry chiltepines crushed. (crush the chiltepines on a napkin. Avoid using your fingers directly to prevent chili burns.) Add the Juliane carrots, toss well saute for 1 minute. Add the Chard, raisins, apple cider vinegar salt and pepper. Toss well and briefly about 2 minutes. Just when the chard starts to welt, remove from heat and taste for salt ad pepper adjust if needed. Serve immediately, garnish tacos with pepitas, queso fresco or a dollop of greek yogurt.   Enjoy!

Make a Taco Tuesday…Wednesday, Thursday… Weekends…

Have fun and Let’s eat MORE VEGETABLES!!!

Music Pairing: A su Merced el Mercado- Liliana Felipe

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Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Taco-Party

I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients, and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos where created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well let me describe it. Imagine a tempura like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not wanted to even attempt to relay into my 10 year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my tastebuds act in a mischievous ways. On these tacos I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

If you never seared tuna before, it is really easy, hot sautee pan, rippling oil and counting 20 seconds per side, just follow step number 4 on the recipe. You will have the best succulent seared Ahi Tuna steaks. The black sesame seed crust its what makes the whole different story on this taco. Black sesame seeds add flavor and texture to this lean flavorful meaty fish. When the tuna steak hits the hot pan, the sesame oil creates a nutty and unctuous exterior coat, while the inside of the steak still pink, tender and fresh.

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Tacos_ingredients

Now imagine this delicious Ahi tuna slices over a hand made corn tortilla. Add the following accoutrements; fine shredded cabbage, quick pickled radishes, carrots and jicama for crunch and texture. Fresh pineapple slices, a squeeze of lime for a sharp acid note, and an avocado-wasabi mayo that adds creaminess and spice it up. Do you read what I mean? Taco catharsis warrantied.

Lets’ do this, To make these tacos you will need:

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Carne Asada Tacos on 5 de Mayo, or 6 de Mayo or any other day…

Carne-asada-Tacos-Cinco-de-Mayo-Mexican-recipes_Yes,-more-please!

Ok let’s make something clear, 5 de Mayo nothing to do with the Mexican Independence which actually is celebrated on September 15th at midnight.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates The Battle of Puebla-La Batalla de Puebla, May, 5th 1862 in which the Mexican Army, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, battled the French forces. The Mexican Army was outnumbered by the French army which was almost double in size and well armed. Against all odds, the Mexican army won the battle. It had been almost 50 years since the French had been defeated. After the Battle of Puebla no other Country in the Americas has been invaded by another European military force…

General-Ignacio-Zaragoza_Yes,-more-please!

There is a lot of pride in this important battle as you can imagine; maybe that is all what this Cinco de Mayo is about, “Mexican Pride”… and well I won’t blame any Mexican-American who wants to celebrate such a win, or any American who wants an excuse for buying Mexican beer, tacos and guacamole, as long we leave history aside from the matter… A little of general history to know the real origin of 5 de Mayo facts, does not hurt.

In my opinion it would be like Mexicans were trying to celebrate a decisive battle from an American war in the nineteenth century and calling it the Independence of America… and imagine that celebrated, just for the sake of it, with hamburgers and french fries, smothered in salsa verde cilantro and queso fresco, and drinking mint julep with tequila reposado… you would be wondering why Mexicans are celebrating our independence on the wrong day with the most kitschy foods?….

What I really want to believe is that this 5 de Mayo celebration in the states it’s all a big excuse to have a Mexican-flare celebration because you can’t stop thinking about tacos, chips and salsa, lime and tequila! If this is what you are thinking, I believe you are on the right track, let’s make some damn good Carne Asada Tacos!…

Carne-Asada-Tacos-Ignacio-Zaragoza_Celebrating-Cinco-de-Mayo!

SO…. lets just think about the food and good all kitschy drinks and make it happen… even if you celebrate 5 de Mayo on the 9th or 10th weekend or if you want to celebrate with your mom with a 5 de Mayo flare… hey why not? This is a non-recipe/recipe because its more about a particular style of cooking, so I will give you all the tips to make great tacos at home.

Carne-asada-Tacos-for-Cinco-de-Mayo_or-any-other-day_Yes,-more-please!

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Cochinita Pibil |Pulled Pork Yucatan Style

Cochinita-Pibil_Yucatan-Style_ready-to-serve-Yes,-more-please!

The state of Yucatán is located in Southeast Mexico right at the tip of a peninsula and is mostly tropical forest. It is the location of important ancient Mayan cities like Chichen Itza, Izamal, Motul, Mayapan, Ek’Balam and Ichcaanzihoo, which now make up the modern city of Mérida. A tropical forest is filled with an abundance of living species including: Toucans, Guacamayas, Papagayos, Garzas, hummingbirds, serpents, crocodiles, wild boar, porcupines, changos iguanas, squirrels, armadillos, reindeer, and jaguars. All kinds of insects inhabit the forest from ants and wild bees to lightning bugs and mosquitos, all living together in a beautiful fertile land.

Nine thousand years ago this was the land that the Mayan choose to develop their civilization. A paradise of abundance of colors, nature, spices, and rainforest; all your senses are awaken in this land.

It is in the Yucatán where an important culinary fusion took place after the Spanish conquest: Spanish and Mayan cuisine. It is a belief that the people of Yucatán were the first Native Americans that tried the pork meat.

This fusion of cuisines gave origin to a New World cuisine, the Mestizo. These dishes which derive part of their origin from prehispanic ingredients, condiments and techniques were fused with the new ingredients from the old continent. Items like pork, spices, citrus, and different cooking techniques came together to create this New World cuisine.

Cochinita Pibil is one of the most renowned dishes in Yucatán. Its name comes from Cochinita = suckling pig or small pig, and Pibil in Mayan means “under the ground” referring to the cooking method that the Mayan developed. It is one of the dishes that I like the most from that region. It is really amusing and fun to prepare. There are two ingredients in this recipe that give character and its particular flavor: Annatto seeds and Bitter oranges. You might have to go on an adventure to find them, although now its easier than ever with all the specialized condiment stores and supermarkets with special sections for ethnic foods. Annatto seeds grow on the tropical forest of a little tree that gives a heart shaped fruit with spiky hairs.When the fruit is fully mature, it splits open revealing the beautiful red seeds. Besides having a culinary purpose, annatto seeds are also used for pigments and food coloring.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_annatto-seeds

Cochinita Pibil is such a rewarding dish. A little love and effort go a long way. First, you work on a rub-marinade for the pork, marinate it overnight or for as long as twenty-four hours. Then make a pork bundle of banana leaves and bake it in the oven or in an outdoor charcoal pit for 3.5 to 4 hours. If you wish you can go all the way and bury it in the ground which is the traditional method. My recipe is more adapted for house or grill cooking. If you want to go with the traditional method send me an e-mail along with and invitation and I will help you cook it! : )

The best way to describe this Cochinita Pibil is addictive. The tangy oranges, the floral annatto seeds and the two types of pepper corns marry the rich pork flavor transforming the pork into the best succulent pork with an extraordinary flavor and tender texture. The pork remains moist from the Banana leaves pocket that keep the pork bundle warm and juicy. The banana leaves perfume the dish giving it an intangible unique quality.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_Bitter-Orange-&-Garlic

Cochinita Pibil is traditionally served with garlic rice and black beans, in tacos, or tortas.
Other delicious dish preparations could be as a stuffing for enchiladas, poblano chiles or empanadas. For me I think is best on its own, with corn tortillas on the side, hand made if possible.
Quick pickled red onions with fresh habanero peppers and a grilled habanero pepper sauce on the side, a cold Mexican pilsner beer are Cochinita Pibil’s best companions… the way its served in Yucatán, the best juicy pork on the planet!

I know you’re gonna love this recipe as much as I do…. ask Ian!…Enjoy!

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_Yes,-more-please!

Cochinita Pibil Yucatan Style

Serves 6 Yucatecos, and 6-8 pork taco lovers.

8lbs.Pork butt or pork shoulder cut into large 3”x 4”cubes approx.
Pork butt tends to shrink a lot because of its fat content, always calculate at least 2 or 3 more pounds of what you think you will need. In this recipe 8 pounds, yields about 5-6 net pounds of pork meat.
2 white onions sliced on thin wedges.

For the marinade:

6 tablespoons annatto seeds*
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
8-10 whole All spice peppercorns (upon size small=10 medium-large=8)
6 whole cloves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2″ stick Mexican cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
12 garlic cloves
1 Habanero chile de-seeded
1 tablespoon sea salt.
1- 1/2 cup of bitter oranges juice. Bitter oranges have a sour bitter flavor, highly acidic which complement and tenderize the meat.How to recognize them?
They have green and yellow rough skins, picture above.
(If you can’t find this kind of oranges, substitute for 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup white vinegar)

For the quick pickled red Onions:

2 medium red onions, sliced in thin wedges
4-5 Habanero peppers, thinly sliced or diced.
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup white or pineapple vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

You will need the following to cook your Cochinita Pibil:

5-6 Banana Leaves
Heavy duty Foil paper

16″x13″ Ennamel, clay or stainless steel roasting pan

Note:

If you cannot get annatto seeds, you can substitute for achiote paste. It is not the same flavor, I really prefer to go with the seeds the flavor and the aroma is so much better. If you use the paste, use 3/4 of the paste bar, and use only 1/2 the amount of salt on the recipe.
The same with the rest of the spices, If you can get them whole the spices taste so much better. Why? Well once the spices are grounded the oils inside the seeds that give the aroma and flavor, start to oxidize,losing their intensity of flavor and aroma.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_grinding-the-spices

Preparation Method:

1. Cut the pork into 3”x 4” cubes, set aside.
2. Grind the annatto seeds, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, oregano until powdered. You can use a stone mortar to pulverize the seeds or a coffee grinder. I do recommend fresh spices whole rather than powdered because the whole seeds retain much of their oils and are more fragrant. Since we are making all by scratch, it is worth the extra effort!
I do prefer to use a mortar, is more fun and the aroma of the spices while you grind them is amazing… if you are not so romantic like me..hehehe a coffee grinder will work, just remember that once you use it for spices, just use it for that purpose.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_ground-spices
3. In a blender combine the garlic cloves, Habanero chiles, sea salt and orange juice. Blend.
4. In a glass container place the pork and all the blended marinade, massage the pork pieces until well covered. Cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Refrigerate, let it rest over night.

Cochinita-Pibil-Marinate
5. Next day remove your pork out of the fridge while you prepare the pan. You want the marinated pork not to be refrigerator cold when you place it in the oven. This allows the meat to cook more evenly and it will be more tender.
6. Move your oven rack to the lowest position in your oven. Preheat the oven at 325 F/160C Place the banana leaves inside the oven for 5-7 minutes.Afterwards they should be a little warm which will make them more pliable. With scissors cut off the banana leaves hard middle rib edge.
7. In a large roasting pan line the banana leaves in both directions, overlapping half way the leaves and placing them cross ways until you can not longer see the bottom of the pan. Place some banana leaves pieces on each corner to ensure there is no leaks.Leave the over hanging leaves, these will help us to make the bundle.
8. On top of the banana leaves place a layer of thin onion wedges and the marinated pork meat in the roasting pan. Add the marinate juices and cover with the over hanging banana leaf. You want to make a pork bundle. Make sure is all fully wrapped up. Take a look at the following images for visual directions.
9. Cover the entire pan bundle with aluminum foil. Tighten the edges fully to seal and contain the heat and moisture. Place the pot into the oven (or the just warm charcoal embers outside in a pit or carefully monitored grill) for 2.30 to 3.30 hours.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_banana-Plantain-wraping-the-pork-bundle

10. Pull the cochinita out of the oven and before uncovering it, let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
11. While your pork is resting,  prepare your pickled onions by thinly slicing red onions and habbanero peppers. Slightly warm up the vinegar, and add the salt and lime juice to the onions. cover and leave them at room temperature, until the Cochinita is ready. The onions will became hot pink, and the vinegar will have the flavor of the spicy habaneros. Set up the table, get yourself a nice cold Mexican beer to drink.

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_quick-pickled-red-onions-and-habaneros
12.Unveil the Cochinita Pibil and with the help of two forks shreed the pork into smaller pieces, let the pork absorb those juices from the pan. The pork should be fork tender, juicy, moist…fragrant! the smell will fill your kitchen. You will almost hear the toucan screaming and the Mayan Jaguars slinking around behind you (watch out)… Time to eat!… Enjoy!
This Cochinita Pibil is best served with a side of white fluffy garlic rice, and black beans. Tacos are always a great option. corn or flour, what ever rocks your boat. Enjoy!

Cochinita-Pibil_Yucatan-Style_Yes,-more-please!

Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style_served-with-rice

Serve with Rice…or

Make the most amazing Cochinita Pibil Tacos!

Tacos-de-Cochinita-Pibil-Yucatan-Style..Bomba!Yes,-more-please!

Cochinita-Pibil-Tacos-Yucatan-Style_Yes,-more-please!

Viva Mexico!…Enjoy!

Bomba!
Con esta cara de lec
y
esta figura de pec
te juro preciosa eshpet
que te puedo hacer jesmec!…

Mare, mare!

Music Pairing: La Maldita Vecindad – Mare

5 from 3 votes
Print

Cochinita Pibil | Pulled Pork Yucatan Style

Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8lbs. Pork butt or pork shoulder, cut into large 3”x 4”cubes. Pork butt tends to shrink a lot because of its fat content, always calculate at least 2 or 3 more pounds of what you think you will need. In this recipe 8 pounds, yields about 5-6 net pounds of pork meat.
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced on thin wedges

For the marinade:

  • 6 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper
  • 8-10 whole all spice peppercons, aka pimienta gorda, upon s small=10 medium-large=8
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2" stick Mexican Cinnamon
  • 12 large garlic cloves
  • 1 habanero chiles, de-seeded
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups bitter oranges juice, Bitter oranges have a sour bitter flavor, highly acidic which complement and tenderize the meat. If you can’t find this kind of oranges, substitute for 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup white vinegar.

For the Quick Pickled Onions:

  • 2 medium red onions, sliced in thin wedges
  • 3-4 Habanero peppers, thinly sliced or diced.
  • 1 Lime, the juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or pineapple vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

You will need the following to cook your Cochinita Pibil in:

  • 5-6 large Banana Leaves
  • Heavy duty foil paper
  • 16"x 13" Ennamel, clay or stainless steel roasting pan

Instructions

  1. 1. Cut the pork into 3”x 3” cubes, set aside.

    2. Grind the annatto seeds, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, oregano until powdered. You can use a stone mortar to pulverize the seeds or a coffee grinder. I do recommend fresh spices whole rather than powdered because the whole seeds retain much of their oils and are more fragrant. Since we are making all by scratch, it is worth the extra effort!

    I do prefer to use a mortar, is more fun and the aroma of the spices while you grind them is amazing… if you are not so romantic like me..hehehe a coffee grinder will work, just remember that once you use it for spices, just use it for that purpose.

    3. In a blender combine the garlic cloves, Habanero chiles, sea salt and orange juice. Blend.

    4. In a glass container place the pork and all the blended marinade, massage the pork pieces until well covered. Cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Refrigerate, let it rest over night.

    5. Next day remove your pork out of the fridge while you prepare the pan. You want the marinated pork not to be refrigerator cold when you place it in the oven. This allows the meat to cook more evenly and it will be more tender.

    6. Move your oven rack to the lowest position in your oven. Preheat the oven at 325 F/160C Place the banana leaves inside the oven for 5-7 minutes.Afterwards they should be a little warm which will make them more pliable. With scissors cut off the banana leaves hard middle rib edge.

    7. In a large roasting pan line the banana leaves in both directions, overlapping half way the leaves and placing them cross ways until you can not longer see the bottom of the pan. Place some banana leaves pieces on each corner to ensure there is no leaks.Leave the over hanging leaves, these will help us to make the bundle.

    8. On top of the banana leaves place a layer of thin onion wedges and the marinated pork meat in the roasting pan. Add the marinate juices and cover with the over hanging banana leaf. You want to make a pork bundle. Make sure is all fully wrapped up. Take a look at the following images for visual directions.

    9. Cover the entire pan bundle with aluminum foil. Tighten the edges fully to seal and contain the heat and moisture. Place the pot into the oven (or the just warm charcoal embers outside in a pit or carefully monitored grill) for 3.5 to 4 hours.

    10. Pull the cochinita out of the oven and before uncovering it, let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

    11. While your pork is resting, prepare your pickled onions by thinly slicing red onions and habbanero peppers. Slightly warm up the vinegar, and add the salt and lime juice to the onions. cover and leave them at room temperature, until the Cochinita is ready. The onions will became hot pink, and the vinegar will have the flavor of the spicy habaneros. Set up the table, get yourself a nice cold Mexican beer to drink.

    12. Unveil the Cochinita Pibil and with the help of two forks shreed the pork into smaller pieces, let the pork absorb those juices from the pan. The pork should be fork tender, juicy, moist…fragrant! the smell will fill your kitchen. You will almost hear the toucan screaming and the Mayan Jaguars slinking around behind you (watch out)… Time to eat!… Enjoy!

    This Cochinita Pibil is best served with a side of white fluffy garlic rice, and black beans. Tacos are always a great option. corn or flour, what ever rocks your boat. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

 

 

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