Puerco Pibil

If you’re a fan of Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico, then you’re probably well acquainted with this dish.  You may have even already looked up the 10 minute cooking school that Rodriguez hosted in the DVD extras, which is where this recipe comes from.  Puerco Pibil (also known as cochinita pibil) is a traditional Mexican slow roasted dish that is marinated in acidic juices and an array of spices – most notably annatto seed, which is what gives this dish its fantastic red colour.  The acid in the marinade tenderises the meat and the additional 4 hours in the oven makes the pork melt in your mouth.  What more could you want?

Enjoy this dish alongside green rice, salsa, hungry friends and plenty of beer.  It also makes fantastic leftovers to do it all over again for lunch.

Puerco Pibil

Puerco Pibil with green rice and salsa


  • 2 kilograms of pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 5 lemons, juiced
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 habanero peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of tequila
  • banana leaves

Annatto paste:

  • 5 tablespoons of annatto seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 8 pieces allspice
  • ½ teaspoon of cloves

If you have a spare coffee grinder (that isn’t used with coffee) then use this to grind up the annatto seeds.  If you don’t happen to own one, you can always use a motar and pestle but just be warned that you’ll be working up a bit of a sweat to grind them down finely.  Grind up the remaining annatto paste ingredients and set this aside.

Mix the orange juice, vinegar, salt, lemon, garlic, peppers and tequila with the annatto paste and pour over the pork shoulder. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Line up a tray with banana leaves and pour in the pork shoulder and marinade and wrap it up the best you can.  Cover completely with aluminium foil and put in a preheated oven for 4 hours at 160 degrees Celsius.

While this is cooking, you have plenty of time to decide what to eat with it.  My favourite is green rice and salsa, but this also makes a great filling for tacos or burritos.

Serves 6


I can’t help but relate slow cooked comfort food with deep and heavy soul music.  Something about the honesty and simplicity. The song I’ve chosen is a psych-soul cover of the Romeo and Juliet theme from Mexican funk band Rabbits and Carrots.  The song, Romeo & Julieta, is from the album Soul Latino, which is an album well worth seeking out featuring mostly covers of funk and soul legends.  It’s slow, moody, yearns for the older days and the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Listen here:

The good people at Vampi Soul have recently reissued this so you should be able to find it at your local record store.   Alternatively, you can order your copy online here.

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2 thoughts on “Puerco Pibil

  1. Imogen says:

    Good memories always. xox

  2. cecille says:

    you can get annatto powder from asian groceries, filipino section

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