Puerco Pibil

April 02, 2018

Puerco Pibil

This recipe is one we make a lot. It’s a slow-cooked pork dish from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Easy, spicy and full of unusual flavours. It’s basically like a Mexican pulled pork: you can serve it on rice or make sandwiches out of it. This particular recipe is adapted somewhat from one by director Robert Rodriguez, who loves this dish so much that it featured prominently in his movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

The finished dish definitely has some heat to it, but it's a nice well-balanced heat. It really evokes the hot climate of Mexico and is great for long summer days. Of course, you can always ease up on the heat by using less habanero. And grab a nice cold beer to go with it.

Puerco Pibil


4-5 lbs pork butt (this is a shoulder roast, available from any good butcher)
5 tbsp annatto seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp whole cloves
8 allspice berries
3 dried habanero chiles
8 cloves garlic
2 tbsp salt
½ cup orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons and 3 limes
2 ounces tequila


Grind spices and chiles to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder. Whiz together spices, salt, garlic and liquids in a blender.

Two Cautions:

  1. Annatto is a natural dye, so don’t get any on your clothes and wipe up any spills quickly.
  2. Be very careful when working with habanero chiles. Don’t touch them any more than you have to. And then wash your hands. Seriously.

Cut the pork into rough 3” cubes and put it in a large zip-lock bag. Pour in the marinade. Marinate at least 4 hours (overnight is best). Put the whole lot in a slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours on low. When cooked, remove the pork to a large plate and shred with 2 forks, removing any remaining fat.

Pour liquid into a saucepan and reduce on the stove by about half. Add shredded pork, stir and heat through. Serve on Mexican rice with sliced raw onions and peppers.

Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use the oven. Line a large glass baking pan with foil. Pour in meat and liquid and seal the whole pan with foil. Bake for 4 hours at 325°F. Line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch any drips.

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