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Puerco Pibil, also known as Cochinita Pibil, is Yucatan-style barbecued pork. The name comes from the cooking method of the pork. Traditionally, it’s cooked in a Mayan oven called a pib, a hole in the ground lined with hot stones. My first exposure to puerco pibil was watching a Robert Rodriguez movie (you might already know which one I’m talking about), in which one of the characters raves about the dish. Mr. Rodriguez even shares a recipe for it in the DVD commentary. Naturally, not everyone has access to a hole in the ground to roast a pork, so the recipe typically roasted the pork in the oven. My first attempt left me with tasty pork that was kind of dry. My subsequent attempts swapped the oven for my slow cooker, which made a much more tender pork. However, I got rid of my slow cooker once I bought my Instant Pot, and I was just too scared to try to reproduce this dish in there. Until now.
What was usually several hours of waiting for my puerco pibil took about 90 minutes in the pressure cooker, and that includes the time to come to pressure and then to release the pressure. Best of all, it comes together very easily, despite the fairly long list of ingredients. If you wanted to, you could also swap out the spices for premade Achiote paste, but I haven’t found that in my area.
You’ll want to marinate your pork for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Once you’re ready to cook, line your pressure cooker with about 3 layers of banana leaves. Stagger them as much as possible, because you want to keep as much water out. Add your chunks of pork, then fold the leaves over so that they cover the pork. Pour 1 cup of water into the pot, then cover and seal.
Tender, juicy, and delicious puerco/cochinita pibil! You can serve it with pickled onions and tortillas, or sometimes I just eat it with rice.
If you can’t find sour oranges, you can mix equal parts orange juice and vinegar to use in this recipe. I have also used lemon juice in this and it’s still very tasty.
Pressure Cooker Cochinita Pibil
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless pork butt (Boston Butt roast)
- 2 1/2 tbsp annatto seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 4-5 allspice berries
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 habanero pepper (can use jalapeno for less spicy)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup Seville orange juice (naranja agria/bitter orange)
- 3 limes, juiced
- 1 tbsp tequila
- 3-4 banana leaves
Cut the pork into 2in chunks. Place in a large ziploc bag or shallow baking dish.
Using a spice or coffee grinder, grind the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves to a powder. Add this, along with the remaining ingredients (minus the banana leaves) to a blender and blend until combined. Pour over the pork, then allow to marinate at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
When the meat is finished marinating, line the pressure cooker liner with 3-4 banana leaves. They should be along enough to hang over the sides of the pot. Place the pork with the marinade in the center of the leaves, then fold them over until the pork is completely covered. Pour 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker.
Cover and seal the pressure cooker, then cook on Manual (High Pressure) for 60 minutes. Afterwards, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Uncover, remove the pork, and serve with pan juices.
*NOTE: you can substitute the spices for pre-made Achiote paste, if you prefer