Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Pork Pibil to Spice Up Any Meal

Pork Pibil to Spice Up Any Meal

Just in time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers shares her signature, best-selling recipe of this spicy Mexican staple

By Paul Levy in the Wall Street Journal

TV COOKING COMPETITIONS DON’T usually produce much of lasting significance, but when Thomasina Miers won BBC’s “MasterChef” in 2005, she went on to heat up the food world with her skillful and subtle use of Mexico’s best-known ingredient: chili.
Now as the chef/proprietor of Wahaca, a popular chain of Mexican street-food restaurants in London, Ms. Miers feeds her piquant fare to over 3 million customers a year. She’s also educating them about the versatility of Mexican cuisine. This year, her flagship restaurant in Covent Garden is hosting a series of supper clubs that take customers on a culinary journey through the country’s regions.
More on Mexican Cuisine
The evenings feature menus from the likes of Yucatán-based Roberto Solis , one of Mexico’s best-known chefs and the man credited with introducing René Redzepi to Mexican food, and Diego Hernández , the chef/co-owner of the buzz-making restaurant Corazon De Tierra in north Baja California. “We are culminating our celebration of the Year of Mexico with an enormous Day of the Dead festival on Nov. 7 in Tobacco Dock,” says Ms. Miers.
A graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, Ms. Miers began her own culinary journey through Mexico in 2003. “I lived in Mexico and traveled as much as I could to learn about the food and regional differences and ingredients,” she says. “One of the most revelatory dishes I ate was a tortilla made with fresh corn picked that very day. It is unsurpassed when cooked on the flat metal grill called a comal, filled with refried beans, then hot, juicy pork and sharp, bright red onions on top. ”
In Yucatán, she discovered cochinita pibil [ ] , a slow-cooked dish that goes back to Mayan times. It’s now the best-selling recipe at Wahaca. Here, she shares her recipe.

Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 3-4 hours, plus overnight | Serves: 10
For the pork
1 tsp allspice berries
2 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
100g achiote paste*
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 fat garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Large bunch fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
3 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 6 oranges (about 450 mL)
2 kg neck of pork
1 habanero or Scotch bonnet chili, deseeded and finely chopped
50g butter
Corn tortillas
For the pickled onions
2 red onions, thinly sliced
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 1 orange
1 Scotch bonnet, very finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander, chopped
1. Prepare the marinade: In a dry frying plan, warm spices 1-2 minutes. Move to a pestle and mortar, and grind to a fine powder. Place in a blender with achiote [], vinegar, onion, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, salt and olive oil, and pulse to break up the achiote. With the motor running, slowly pour in orange juice until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
2. Marinate the pork: Place pork in a deep dish or stout, sealable plastic bag, and pour about 2/3 of the mixture over the meat, making sure it’s thoroughly coated. Refrigerate overnight. (Note: You can freeze the remaining marinade or keep it fresh for a week in the fridge. Try it with something else, like barbecued chicken.)
3. Prepare the pork: Preheat the oven to 250°F (130°C). Transfer the pork and marinade to a large casserole pot. Add chopped chili and butter, and place in oven. Once it reaches a simmer, cover with foil and a tightfitting lid. Lower the oven temperature to cook as slowly as possible, until the pork is soft and falling apart, about 3-4 hours.
4. Prepare the pickled onions: Cover onion slices with boiling water and soak for 10 seconds. Drain. Add lime and orange juices and chopped chili. Season well and, using your hands, scrunch the chili in the marinade and leave to marinate for several hours. (Be sure to scrub your hands meticulously, or you’ll suffer the ferocious heat of the habaneros!)
5. Serve chunks of pork in small, warmed corn tortillas, topped with lots of sauce, piles of pickled onions and a scattering of coriander.
*Note: You can find achiote online or at specialist shops

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