Once Upon a Time We Celebrated the 4th with Mayan Pork

Since 4th of July weekend this year followed quickly on the heels of our trip to Atlanta for a tech conference, we kept our celebrations low-key. In this case, low-key meant a barefoot day of coffee and video games, lots of snuggles with Matt, and hassle-free barbecue.

For the last item on that list, I found myself craving puerco pibil. Because nothing says USA like a dish from the Yucatan, right?  So puerco pibil, also called cochinita pibil, is a slow-roasted pork dish that starts with a bath in lots of citrus juice, vinegar, and garlic, plus ground spices like annatto, cumin, cloves, allspice, and black pepper.  The result is tender, melty meat that pairs well with rice or tortillas, beans, pickled onions, and avocado.  It's very different from the smoky, sticky-sweet barbecue that I tend to prefer for these occasions, but I like the change of pace.

I'd like to say that I first encountered this recipe on a globe-trotting adventure southward.  Instead, I will admit that I discovered it as a special feature on my Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD in 2004.  It quickly became one of many dishes that Erik, Beard, and I enjoyed cooking together before I graduated from college.

Here's the "10-Minute Cooking School" video that taught me how to get it done (FYI: Rodriguez drops a few f-bombs).

Incidentally, we tend not to keep alcohol at our house, so we skip paying for a bottle of tequila when we only need a splash.  If we're missing out as a result, this stuff is still delicious, so I'm cool with that.  Additionally, when I'm cooking for a crowd that includes little ones like Matt or just folks with varying degrees of heat tolerance, I leave out the habaneros and strategically place a bottle of sriracha so anyone who wants to can adjust the spice level of their own plate or bowl.

Happy July!