Sous Vide Cochinita Pibil

In the Sous Vide Recipes Forum
I love Cochinita Pibil... an achiote marinated pulled pork originally from Yucatan. I've done this recipe on the oven before, but frankly, it works very well sous vide. I wrap the pork in banana leaves and then put those inside bags, the marinade mostly stays inside the banana leaves and allows me to vacuum seal the bags (even though there's lots of marinade in there)

Achiote Paste (you can also buy this in many Mexican grocers)
5 tbsp Annatto seeds
2 tsp Cumin
1 tbsp pepper
8 All spice
½ tsp cloves
Grind everything in spice grinder until it's very fine.

Cochinita Pibil
2 Banana leaves
1 ½ kg Pork butt (cut in chunks)
½ kg Pork ribs (cut the ribs)
1 cup "Sour Orange" juice
¼ tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp cinnamon powder
5 black pepper corn, coarsely ground
3 cloves Garlic (crushed)
200 g Achiote Marinade (may use commercial, or see recipe above)
½ tsp piquin chile
salt to taste
125 g pork lard (you can also use duck fat... yummy)

Disolve the achiote paste in the sour orange, add the spices and bathe the meat with it. Melt the lard or duck fat and add to the pork.

Make packets of the meat using the banana leaves. I use two banana leaves perpendicular to each other. Your packets should fit inside the plastic bags. Vacuum bags.

Cook as you would other pulled porks. I put them in the water bath at 60C for 40 hrs (BTW, the original recipe called for 175C for 1.5 hrs.

Get them out of the bath, open the bags and put the whole packet in the serving tray... unwrap banana leaves (gives you a good presentation). Either broil the meat for a bit or use a torch to finish. You may pull the pork or serve as is. Serve with fresh home made tortillas.

I also made some yucatecan rice (similar to typical Mexican red rice but with achiote instead of tomato.

If you can't find sour orange juice, combine orange and lime juice... it's not quite the same though.

Serve with the following salsa:
8 small radishes, finelly chopped
1 purple onion, finely chopped
4 habanero chiles, finely chopped (I'm a bit chicken and only used 2)
½ cup of freshly chopped cilantro
1 cup "Sour Orange" juice, or vinegar
Salt to taste
Mix all ingredients and allow to rest for 3 hours

5 Replies So Far

Sounds great! I had some achiote seeds and paste in the spice cabinet and wasn't sure what to do with them. This will give me something fun to try!
Superb. I too love cochinita pibil. Discovered it in Mérida in the Yucatan.

This will definitely have to be tried, though I might just cut back on the habañeros.

Thaks very much
Here's another lover of cochinita pibil. I have made it several times in a slow cooker with great success. However, I just got a SVS a couple of weeks ago so when I saw this post I thought this would be a great way to try my first multi-day sous vide cooking.

I followed the recipe fairly closely with the exception that I only used pork butt and didn't add the ribs or extra fat. I also left the pork in the machine for 50 rather than 40 hours (at 60C as directed).

The problem I had was that when I went to remove the two packets, one had blown up like a balloon, the second was snug as a bug. I knew right away something was bad with the swelled bag, but cut it open so that I could smell the contents...definitely bad. The other bag was fine.

I thought that at 60C I would be able to extend the time, and certainly there are other pork-based recipes out there that call for 2-3 day cooking at 60C. Any thoughts as to what happened, or was this a fluke?
Weird... was your bag fully immersed the whole time? Water circulating? well vacuumed? According to the safety chart here and here 60C is even above the FDA minimum holding temperature. For turkey with 12% fat content, at 60C 7-log10 of Salmonella is dead in less than 30 minutes, as long as the meat is kept consistently at that temperature you should have been ok.

I'm sorry about your failed experiment though, and really glad you caught it before serving or eating! if you figure out what went wrong please post.
Thanks for the comments Roberto. To follow up, the bag was fully submerged the whole time (I used the rack in the SVS turned on its side to keep the bags down, and the one in question was even on the lowest level). I periodically peeked into the machine, and as far as I could tell, everything was copacetic until near the end. There was no evidence of leaking (water in the water bath was clear and the bag itself was filled with air, not water). The machine also seemed to keep the temperature extremely well during the two days; it was in the kitchen so I walked by it frequently.

The only odd thing to report was that when I did check on the progress by lifting the lid occasionally, I could smell the fragrance from the banana leaves and spices. At first I thought this odd, but it didn't seem too strange that such strong fragrances would penetrate the plastic. And again, there was no evidence of any leakage. I'll just chalk this one up to experience and be happy that the contamination was extremely evident!

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