I always think of pork pibil as the dish that conquered Irish hearts: first the hearts of my Irish family, and later on the hearts of every person who came to Picado’s tortilla class and fell in love with its simplicity and wonderful flavours. I normally make mine in a pressure cooker, which, together with a blender, is an essential item in every Mexican kitchen. However, I wanted to create a slow-roasted version of the dish. I dare you not to fall in love with this recipe too.
Serves 4–61kg pork shoulder, skin left on, cut into three chunks
350g ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 x 7cm Mexican cinnamon stick
½ tsp black peppercorns
50g Mexican achiote paste
75ml apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 large orange
1½ tsp flaky sea salt
FOR THE TACOS:
16 corn tortillas, warmed
de árbol salsa roja
red onion pickle
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Place the pieces of pork in a large heavy-based casserole, skin facing up so it doesn’t stick. Add the tomato and onion quarters, wedging them in between the pieces of meat and on the top. Set aside.
Place the whole garlic cloves in a hot, dry frying pan over a high heat, turning them every minute or so – the aim is to have lovely golden garlic with plenty of charred bits and a sweet smell. This will take about 6 minutes. Halfway through, add the cinnamon stick to the same pan and toast it for 2–3 minutes before adding the peppercorns and toasting for 1 minute more, until they are fragrant. The kitchen should smell beautiful by now.
Transfer everything from the pan to a blender followed by the achiote paste, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, salt and 40ml of the water. Blend until smooth, then pour the sauce over the meat in the casserole. Use the remaining 40ml of water to rinse any leftover sauce out of the blender and pour this into the casserole too.
Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit your casserole and cover the casserole with its lid. Transfer to the oven and roast for 3½ hours.
Take the casserole out of the oven and uncover the meat. Everything should be soft so, using two forks, shred the meat and crush the tomatoes and onions, making sure to mix everything together – there should be enough sauce to coat everything well. I normally just carry the casserole to the table and let the meat rest and soak up all the flavours of the sauce while I get everything else together.
Set the table and bring over bowls of the de árbol salsa roja and red onion pickle to add a little heat. To assemble your tacos, add some pork to a warm corn tortilla, then spoon over some of the salsa and red onion pickle.