La Colombe’s Friday Staff Lunch
What we have here is the makings of our Cochinita Pibl, a Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatan. Cochinita translates as “baby pig,” and Pibl is Mayan for “buried,” so historically, this was a whole pig, roasted in a pit.
Like most traditional dishes, people can obsess about the authenticity of Cochinita Pibl, and the director Robert Rodriquez even includes a recipe on the extended DVD for his 2003 film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the third of his “Mariachi” trilogy.
You can easily find many other versions of this dish, typically calling for an acidic braising liquid (typically with orange juice, in this recipe we used beer, Modelo Especial), achiote paste (gives it a slightly orange color), and pork shoulder or Boston butt (often cooked while wrapped in banana leaves).
At La Colombe’s Friday staff lunch, we used a pork shoulder, and most importantly, we put coffee in the spice mix. Using coffee as a spice is a lot like working whole peppercorns: you have to find the right grind for the particular dish (fine usually works best, and we used our espresso grind Nizza, seen below in its new can, and then you have to find the right amount for your palate. It’s easiest when you start small, adding just enough to get the coffee flavor to subtly come through, and adjust according to your taste.
We find that adding cinnamon really bring a coffee spice mix into balance, and in the case of Cochinita Pibl, it made the pork even richer—if you can imagine that.
This little guy, Banana, whom we’re fostering, also shows support for this dish. Banana found a permanent home and will be leaving us quite soon.