On puerco pibil.

Puerco pibil is the most complicated meal I know how to make, which isn’t saying much because the next most complicated meal I know how to make is a sandwich. The recipe for a five-pound serving, according to director Robert Rodriguez:

Step 1. Grind these ingredients into powder (unless you already have them in powdered form, in which case just throw them in after you’ve ground everything else):

  • 5 tablespoons of annato seeds, for the reddish color. This stuff is also called achiote, and has little flavor compared to the other ingredients. Next time I make the dish, I’ll try it without achiote.
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
  • Half a teaspoon of whole cloves.
  • 8 allspice berries.

Step 2. Mix these ingredients together:

  • 2 finely chopped habanero peppers. You might want to take the seeds out, because they can be hot. You may also want to consider wearing gloves.
  • 8 finely chopped cloves of garlic, which is roughly a single jumbo bulb.
  • 2 tablespoons of salt.
  • Half a cup of orange juice.
  • Half a cup of vinegar.

Step 3. Take the dry stuff from Step 1 and mix it really well with the wet stuff from Step 2. Then mix in 5 lemons’ worth of juice (I throw in lime juice sometimes) and some tequila. You now have the marinade.

Step 4. Chop up five pounds of pork butt into small pieces, maybe one or two cubic inches. Other cuts of pork will work well, but I think you should avoid a cut that’s too lean.

Step 5. Pour the marinade in with the pork (in a tupperware dish, or a ziplock bag, or whatever) and leave it in the fridge overnight. A ziplock bag is probably best, since you can turn it easily every so often.

Step 6. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Then line that with banana leaves (I skip the banana leaf part). Then pour in the pork and marinade. Then seal it with more aluminum foil. Throw it in the oven for no more than four hours at 325 degrees.

Step 7. When it’s all done, serve with rice and enjoy.

I’ve never made more than three-and-a-half pounds at a time, so I have to cut down on the ingredients–especially the habanero–and the cooking time. Like I said, you can throw in some lime juice, or replace the lemon with lime. I’ve read that some people throw in some brown sugar, so maybe I’ll try that next time.

Refer back to step two for a second. You might want to wear gloves while handling the peppers.

On Saturday, I bought the ingredients so that I could serve the pibil for lunch on Sunday. When it came time to chop up the habanero, it didn’t seem as hot or spicy as I remembered habaneros being. I thought that I might’ve grabbed the wrong type of pepper by mistake, and that I’d just ruined the entire dish. I figured I could go back to the store early the next morning, buy a real habanero, chop it up and put it in with everything else. It would simply have to infuse itself into the pork and marinade during the cooking.

That night, several hours after completing the prep work and throwing it all in the fridge, I tried to take out my contact lenses and found out in the most extremely painful way possible that I had, in fact, bought an habanero.

Here’s the first trailer for The Road:


First impression: too much music. Too much life. Too much of the wife, even though it is Charlize Theron. Not enough ash. Not enough emaciation. Not enough despair. With a little luck it might be one-tenth as good as the book.