Cookbook 1999: Luis Gonzalez

Cochinita Pibil


  • 3 lbs. boneless lean pork
  • 3 oz. achiote paste (If you can’t find it at the store, see below to make it yourself)
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 1 cup orange juice (fresh is best)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large banana leaves
  • ½ cup melted lard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
  • Onion Salsa:
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Manzano or habanero chili peppers


Cut the meat into two-inch pieces and place them in a glass or ceramic dish. Place the achiote paste in a small glass bowl and add the juices to dissolve it, using your fingers to help break it up. Add the salt. Pour this liquid over the pork, cover it, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Hold the banana leaves directly over the flame on the stove for a few minutes, until they soften. Line a rectangular baking dish with the leaves, placing one long way and the other the slow way. With their ends overlapping the sides of the dish. Place the pork and marinade on the leaves and base with the lard. Fold the ends of the leaves over the pork, moistening slightly so they don’t burn. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for two hours.

Remove from the oven and uncover the meat. It should be tender, almost falling apart. If it isn’t, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Four hours before serving prepare the onion salsa. Place the onion in a bowl and add the juices and salt. Toast the whole Manzano or habanero chili peppers and add them to the onions. Serve the pork hot with tortillas (makes great tacos) and pass the onion salsa separately.

Serves 6-8.