Sunday, 9 December 2012

Thrice Upon a Time in Mexico

Tacchino "Pibil"
Turkey Pibil

So this is the third time I have made a version of the legendary "Puerco Pibil" from Robert Rodriguez' "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". The first time I made it- I did it his way... and it was gooood! The second time, I made a small portion just for myself, and thought I would try it out on the stove top rather than in the oven, the way it should be made... and it was also gooood!

This time, I decided to do a stove-top Pibil, but to try making it with turkey- a leaner, more tender meat, in the hope that it would take less time and be almost as delicious. And you know what? It was leaner, took less time and was indeed equally delicious!

There was a scene in the movie, where Johnny Depp asked the question, "Are you a Mexi-can? Or a Mexi-can't? Hilarious! Well- I am obviously not of Mexican decent, but when it comes to Pibil- I am most definitely a Mexi-Can :-)

So, rather than using "Boston Butt", as the original recipe requires, I used a nice dice of turkey breast that I picked up at our indoor market. I marinated it for 3-4 hrs in a mix of Achiote paste, lime juice, tequila, a little olive oil and some finely chopped garlic. Achiote paste is a bright red, clay-like paste, made from finely ground Annato seeds. It has an earthy, rich flavor which is a little difficult to describe and a very distinctive red/orange color. My buddy Robert tends to think that you need to grind the seeds yourself to make this dish- but I have to say- the paste works perfectly fine for me! I used a good heaped teaspoonful for this single serving.

Once the meat had marinated for 3-4 hrs, I popped it into a saucepan with a little olive oil and briefly seared it at a high heat with a little olive oil. Of course it began to stick pretty soon- and that is when I added a whole finely chopped onion and a good splash of Tequila to deglaze the saucepan and pick up all of the good flavors. I then added a sprinkle of cumin, a pinch of chili flakes, salt and pepper topped it up with just enough water to cover the meat. I reduced it to a low simmer and let it bubble away gently for an hour.

After an hour, I added some sliced shallot, and some small, hot peppers. They were not Poblanos, which are used in the real recipe, but even though they were sold to me namelessly with the simple information that they were hot, they were still delicious! In they went for the remaining cooking time- which was around 20 minutes... time to steam the rice and beans!

I served my Pibil on a bed of plain rice, with a side dish of steamed green beans that I tossed briefly in olive oil and sprinkled with a little seasoned salt. In the movie, Johnny Depp used to shoot the cook if the Pibil was really good. He didn't want to share his good fortune or the great meal with anyone else you see. Me- I want to share it with all of you! And also- not to get shot!

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