Sunday, 10 June 2012

Twice Upon a Time in Mexico

Puerco Pibil al Tegame
Stove Top Puerco Pibil

Oh, I know... this is my famous "only dish that I ever cooked from a recipe"- and I still love the Robert Rodriguez "10 minute cooking school" extra, at the end of Once Upon a Time in Mexico... but I made it his way and it was good... then made it MY way this evening and it was GREAT!

So, second time around, I used annato paste rather than freshly-ground annato seeds. He seemed to think that the paste was inferior and that the powder was more authentic, stronger flavored, etc... But in my opinion, the paste, which contains some kind of oil, has a slicker, smoother, richer consistency and texture to the grainy powder. It has matured and ripened into something else during the process of being blended into a past and the annato has a much better flavor. But what do I know? 

The first thing you need to do, is to chop your pork into nice, big chunks and marinate it for a couple of hours. I used pork loin also, rather than pork "butt" as he did... it was just more tender and juicy at the end of the day. I made the marinade out of lime juice, annato paste (plenty of it- it is not spicy but gives the distinctive color and has a pleasantly earthy, rich flavor), some chopped garlic, cumin (I used whole seeds, not powder), some hot peppers ( I used the fresh cayenne peppers you can see in the photos, but you can use whichever you prefer), salt, pepper and of course... Tequila!

After a couple of hours of marinating in the fridge, I put the pork into a very hot pan and seared it briefly... deglazed with another splash of tequila, added the marinade and then turned the heat down to a gentle simmer for 2 hours. The real reason I made it this way, rather than baking it in the oven, wrapped in banana leaves, as the original recipe calls for for... was that that makes absolutely no sense if you are just cooking one single portion for one single person! But you know what... I found the stove top version to be juicier and tastier than the oven version... who knew!

I served mine up on rice, with some fresh, finely sliced Spring onions, a sprinkle of cumin and a last tiny squeeze of lime juice. And it was SO GOOD! To quote Robert Rodriguez... "not knowing how to cook, is like not knowing how to f...k!" So get out there and get learning! 


  1. I saw that video, too. Hilatrious! I wanted to post it on my Facebook recipe club,then decided it was too racy… but the dish really does sound delicious!

  2. Ah, Frank my friend! You know... If that Rodriguez fellow can be racy.... Then so can we! ;-) glad you enjoyed this- it really did turn out great! It may be cheating a little to use a different cut of meat, but the result was cheaper, easier and more delicious ;-) thanks for writing and all the best to you! Francesco,