Friday, October 23, 2009

Puerco Pibil (how to make your wife cry, yes, it's that good)

Most who know me, know that I love a good action flick. Couple of years ago Robert Rodriguez made a sequel of sorts to "Desperado" called "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". In the movie starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke and Eva Mendes, Johnny Depp's character has an obsession with a slow roasted pork meal called "Puerco Pibil" and kills any chef who makes it really well. Looked good on screen, but most food does in the movies. What was cool is that when I bought the DVD there was a bonus feature of Robert making said dish. Now not only did it look good, but sounded good. I'm not an avid cook or anything but I've always had a couple signature meals I could make mostly from memory because as a single guy, I always thought it cool to prepare meals for dates (as long as it turned out well). By this time I'm married to my incredibly gorgeous wife and felt like, "hey, don't stop working at wooing her". So I decided to make this meal for us.

Fair warning, it takes a while to prepare and not all of the ingredients are easily accessible, but if you're a guy who doesn't normally cook it makes it all the more impressive. Also it can be pretty expensive the first time out if you don't have all of the equipment needed to prepare the meal already.

You will need a blender, a cooking pan approx. 13x9x2, and a coffee grinder dedicated for the sole purpose of grinding spices. You can use the old one you have and get a new one for the coffee but you'd better do an amazing job cleaning the old one before using for it's new purpose. Again part of what makes this cool, is that it's totally from scratch and fresh as can be. Chicks dig fresh.

Then you'll have to aquire:

5 lbs. of pork butt
5 T Annatto seeds
(any Mexican market should have these, some grocery stores do too, but not many)
2 tsp Cumin
8 Allspice
1/2 tsp Cloves
1 T Black Pepper
(all of your spices should be whole and not pre-ground)
1/2 C Orange Juice
1/2 C Vinegar
5 Lemons
8 Cloves of fresh Garlic
2 Habanero Peppers
2 T Salt
1 T Tequila (get a good tequila, no swill!)

First gather up your annatto, cumin, allspice, cloves, and black pepper. Grind all of these together into a fine dust with your new (or newly cleaned) coffee grinder. This is the base of your annatto paste.

Next, take the 5 lemons, halve them and squeeze over a colander into your blender, getting as much of the juice as possible. This also doubles as a great workout, so make sure you're wearing a headband, legwarmers and rocking out to Olivia Newton-John's "Get Physical". Throwing the lemon rinds in your garbage disposal one at a time is a good idea to help with any wayward smells that might be lurking in there.

Cut your habanero's into fine pieces making sure to remove the veins and seeds, unless of course, you hate yourself, family, friends and co-workers. You can also wear surgical gloves when handling peppers to guard against self-inflicted pain. I made the mistake of going to the bathroom after preparing the peppers (without gloves) and lets just say I was reminded of a certain Jerry Lee Lewis song for the rest of the evening.

Now add the annatto spices, orange juice, vinegar, tequila, habanero's and garlic (I usually add a couple of extra cloves) to the blender and let er rip!

Take your pork butt and cut it into 2 inch squares and dump them into a 1 gallon freezer bag. DO NOT CUT OFF FAT! The fat is crucial for taste and will fall off the meat after it's cooked. Pour annatto paste into bag and mix it up. You can let the meat marinate for an hour or so but I don't recommend much longer as the acid in the lemon can start to "cook" the meat.

Add contents of freezer bag into pan and cover tightly with tinfoil. Make sure your pan is deep enough otherwise the annatto paste will boil over into your oven. Cook at 325 degrees for 4 hours. If you want to get really exotic (and you can find them) line the pan with banana leaves and cover meat with leaves before covering in tin foil. Hope you don't mind the smell of annatto paste in every square inch of your home for the next day.

Remove foil and sprinkle salt over meat (you can add it earlier but it can dry the meat out a little).

Take a head of lettuce and peel whole sections off to use like a bowl, serve white or spanish rice with a side of diced tomato and a dollop of sour cream. Manny's tortilla chips go great with it also. Do a shot of tequila (if your of age) and enjoy!

PS first time I served this to Heidi it was so good she cried. True story.