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Mayan Style Barbecued Pork

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    Posted: 27 January 2010 at 16:20
I'm interested in learning about the roots of food. The real old stuff, from way back when...what were the recipes like? What did they eat and how did they prepare it? Lots of food history out there and lots of good recipes. I want to try my hand at going back to the original, the basics.

Here's my take on Puerco Pibil, a pork barbecue the Mayans made hundreds of years ago.

For puerco pibil, it is not that difficult since the recipe has essentially remained unchanged since Cortez and his men documented it on their arrival to the peninsula. It is very popular all over Mexico. If you go to Yucatan and ask around you will find that is so. I took a "Mexico on $10 a day" type trip to Yucatan and the Mayan ruins about 10 years ago and found that very true.

Part of my impetus for doing this recipe was a set of books called The Conquest of Mexico or something like that, a 2 volume set; here's a link to both volumes, whch you can get for free from Amazon for your kindle or other reading device:
 
 
 
If you want to spend a little money, you can get them both in one volume here for 99 cents:
 
 
My volumes are copyrighted from the 1850's and I got them for a song at a yardsale. Turkeys were the main source of land animal protein they ate...that we know. The word "pibil" is (nahuatl? Yucatec?) their language for pit-barbecue if I am not mistaken, and they "pibilled" lots of things including fish.  However they also ate "Jabali", a peccarie, part of the order of Swine, hence this recipe. True swine as we know them were introduced by the Spaniards.

Let's get on with it!

First step was to marinate a pork shoulder overnight in citrus. Here, I used Key Limes, regular limes, and grapefruit since I didn't have sour oranges. I turned it every couple hours and it stayed in the fridge till ready.

For the wet rub, I began with a melange of chiles that can be found on the Yucatan peninsula, as well as onion and garlic. I chopped them up real fine and then mixed them in with an achiote paste made from a store-bought powder block and a bit of vinegar - i also added a teaspoon of cloves and allspice, plus a generous teaspoon of ground coriander and black pepper; the resulting achiote was much better than the bottled stuff. No worries on the heat level, the cooking really mellowed everything out and it was not hot at all at the end.

Before applying the paste, I let the meat air dry then rubbed the paste in real good, reserving about 1/3 of it. Then, I fired up my offset smoker with oak and a bit of charcoal briquettes to get it started. Oak grows like crazy all over Yucatan and was definitely the wood fuel used back then - and it smells really good for cooking!
 
Several hours later, the internal temp at 160F, still needed more time. I put the reserved wet rub on it around this point as well.

Took it off the grill at 195F internal and let it rest for about half an hour before "pulling" it. It had a wonderful mellow flavor and incredibly delicious meaty flavor. I served it with hot corn tortillas, garden tomatos, refried black beans and Ecuadorian Choclo:
 

It was a wonderful historical exercise ending in a fantastic meal. Much easier to make than it looks, since most of the time is just waiting- to marinate and to barbecue. Hope you all give it a try, you'll love it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 January 2010 at 16:43
that's one of my favorites of yours, john ~
 
i'll be trying this one sometime this year in a toned-down version for mrs. tas, who has a problem with super-spicy foods. when the time comes, i might need to bug you about some amounts for the spices etc.
 
thanks for posting!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote got14u Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 January 2010 at 14:46
Ya got to luv the citrus marinate in a lot of the mexican dishes. I'm gonna make this one up soon !
Jerod

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 April 2010 at 16:31
john - i am officially inspired ~ i plan to do this one this coming weekend using 2 half-butts that i have in the freezer -
 
might need a little help in planning - here are my sketchy ideas so far:
 
  • wednesday - take out of freezer, allow to thaw in fridge overnight.
  • thursday - marinate in sour orange marinade (any additions to the marinade?) overnight.
  • friday - prepare achiote paste (powder and vinegar - anything else? or would i be better off using it as a powder?) with other ingredients for paste/rub (thinking of CBP, allspice, possibly oregano and cumin - would these be authentic to the yucatan? cloves and coriander? let me know ~ may also add some crushed dried new mexico or other mild chiles if i can find them in the pantry!); rub down pork and allow to sit overnight.
  • saturday - fire up the SnP and let it rip!
want to also prepare choclo loaf and do something with some beans that would be authentic or at least relevant to the yucatan. any ideas for a recipe? i'll check the FOTW book, too.
 
let me know what you think about this plan of attack., i will definitely reserve the marinade and see if i can think of uses for it as a mop, baste or sauce ~ perhaps adding sugar will balance it out? maybe some chiles, or vinegar?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 April 2010 at 00:37
Good to go! Your plan sounds like a good one and look forward to your resulting post! Although the spices you mentioned are not indigenous to Yucatan, they all have been incorporated happily into Latin American cooking with fantastic results. I put cloves, allspice and ground coriander in mine and it came outr very nice, and mild. The spice combination really went well with the achiote and the marinade.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 April 2010 at 07:03
sounds good - i'll be using the achiote verde and will compile a list of the other herbs/spices sometime today. would appreciate some suggestion as to the amount of each herb/spice since i always seem to over-spice things!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 April 2010 at 21:26
Sounds good! If I remember right, I used a level teaspoon (since I don't measure, this is an approximation. So it may have been shy of a teaspoon, but definitely not more) each of the cloves and allspice. I used a generous teaspoon of the ground coriander and black pepper, all being mixed in with the achiote. It smelled rich and spicey, the clove and allspice coming through clearly when mixing, but they all mellowed out and lessened upon barbecuing. Even with the chilis in the pic above, the resulting sauce and rub was surprisingly mild. I am sure even a child could have eaten it with no worries of heat. If anything, you could probably doulble the amounts of spices and it would come out fine!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2010 at 16:15
details here.
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