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Pork pibil

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‘This is our bestselling dish at Wahaca and one of my favourite recipes from Mexico. It comes from the Yucatán and uses two local products: achiote, a spicy paste made from the ground red berries of the annatto tree, which turns the marinade brick red; and the habañero chilli, which gives it a lovely touch of fire. You can buy achiote online or from specialist shops. If you prefer your food not too hot, simply leave the chilli out. We use neck end of pork, which is marbled with delicious fat that melts into the sauce. For the tastiest, most tender pork, marinate it the day before cooking,’ says Thomasina Miers of Wahaca.

Serves 10-12

You will need

  • Neck of pork 3kg, cut into a few large pieces
  • Habañero or Scotch bonnet chilli 1, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • Butter 50g

For the marinade:

  • Allspice berries 1 tsp
  • Freshly ground cumin seeds 2 tsp
  • Cloves ½ tsp
  • Peppercorns 1 tsp
  • Achiote paste 100g
  • Cider vinegar 3 tbsp
  • Medium onion 1, coarsely chopped
  • Garlic cloves 3, coarsely chopped
  • Large bunch of fresh oregano or dried oregano 1 tsp
  • Fresh bay leaves 3
  • Sea salt 2 tbsp
  • Olive oil 3 tbsp
  • Juice of 6 oranges (about 450ml)

Method

  1. First make the marinade. Warm the spices in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, then grind to a fine powder. Place in a blender with the achiote, vinegar, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and olive oil and pulse to start breaking up the achiote.
  2. Slowly pour in the orange juice with the motor running to get a smooth paste. Pour about two-thirds of the marinade over the pork, ensuring that it is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Freeze your remaining marinade or keep it fresh for a week in the fridge (and try it with something else, like barbecued chicken).
  4. Preheat the oven to 130°c/gas 1. Transfer the pork and its marinade to a large casserole dish and add the chopped chilli and butter. Bring to simmering point, cover with foil and a tight-fitting lid and cook as slowly as possible for 3–4 hours, until the pork is soft and falling apart.
  5. Serve chunks of pork in deep bowls with rice or steamed potatoes, lots of sauce and piles of the pink pickled onions on top.

Recipes taken from Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home by Thomasina Miers, published by Hodder & Stoughton, £20.

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