Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mexi-can, or Mexi-can't?

Borlotti & Maiale "Pibil"
Frijoles Borlotti & Puerco Pibil


One of my favorite lines from the movie "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" is "Are you a Mexi-can? Or a Mexi-can't?" - Pretty hilarious, right?

Well, I am obviously not a Mexican and this is obviously not an authentic Mexican dish... but yes I "can" create my own version of a dish I love. And who knows? Maybe you will love it too!


The flavors that make this dish so special, are the wonderful, earthy, warm and deep orange colored Achiote, or Annato, chili, lime and cilantro... all wonderfully authentic Mexican ingredients.

Less authentic, maybe, are the Borlotti beans I used, rather than Pinto beans which may be more typical... but who can blame me when they just happen to be in season over here in Europe and when they look so wonderful?!?


So, my wonderful, spicy little supper was made from: just a good handful of ground pork, about the same amount of beans (you can use whichever you prefer), a shallot, a couple of chilis, a good tablespoon of Achiote paste, some fresh cilantro and the juice and zest of a lime. I added some fennel seed to the pork- just because I love it and I served this pork and bean stew with some plain white rice. A simple but delicious combination!

Let me just say this... once you have tried this, you may never bother to make that chili con carne you think you love ever again- trust me... this is so much nicer!


Beautiful fresh Borlotti beans- such a pity that they lose their wonderful colors once they are cooked! But again- you can use any other large beans or even canned beans, although should you use canned beans, remember to reduce you cooking time by about half!


It wouldn't taste in the slightest bit Mexican without some hot chili peppers... but sometimes, these more harmless looking ones can pack quite a punch... like this innocent-looking yellow beast here! Always remove the seeds as they are the hottest part of the pepper- but season to your own taste! There can be no rules with chilis!


This was one of my favorite kinds of dishes to prepare... the kind where everything goes into the same saucepan at the same time!

Here you can see the pork, the beans, the shallot in slices, the achiote spread out, a good teaspoon of fennel seeds, salt, pepper and the 2 finely chopped chilis- that's quite a sight there, isn't it?


Onto the stove top it went, at a nice high temperature, with no fat of course, as the pork has plenty. as soon as the saucepan gets hot, the achiote paste also begins to melt- and everything begins to develop great flavors which all combine and cook together!


After 5 minutes or so, the pork will start beginning to brown, the shallot to turn transparent and the achiote will have turned everything bright orange.

At this point I added 3-4 strips of lime zest and the juice of the lime... and suddenly the added moisture created a lovely burst of steam and aroma!

I then added enough boiling water to cover both the pork and the beans, reduced the temperature to a low simmer, and left it to cook and reduce down for the next 20 minutes.


After simmering away for 20 minutes, I added a tablespoon of tomato paste, just to help thicken up the juices and returned it to the stove for a further 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, I prepared some plain white rice to serve with the pork and beans and finely chopped some fresh cilantro as a final, finishing touch.


And after 45 minutes or so cooking time in all, it was ready to serve, scattered with finely chopped cilantro and on a bed of steaming white rice- just perfect!


Piping hot, tangy, spicy and smooth and delicious from the silky achiote, this is a slightly different beast to the ones you are probably familiar with... and trust me- that is a GOOD thing!

Anyone for a plate of Mexican goodness? Yes, I thought so! Me too!


  1. Authentic or not, it looks awfully good. I have a weak spot for Mexican food so this may be on the menu soon...

  2. You're making me smile today Frank! :-) See?
    Try this- you'll like it! It is just simple and delicious, no-risk good food :-)
    Thanks for the nice words!