Inspired by an episode of "Mexico - One Plate At a Time," an episode that features Rick Bayless and his daughter Lanie digging a pig pit in their backyard (so jealous!), I made a crockpot version of the featured dish: cochinita pibil. Years ago when we went to Merida, the capital of Mexican state Yucatan, cochinita pibil was featured on every menu and I made sure to sample it every time. I am a sucker for a good, slow cooked hog.
An aside, during the TV show, Lanie says, "Speaking of hot, let’s see what my dad is up to outside." The show cuts to a clip of Bayless in a skimpy tank top, muscles rippling as he digs a hole. Before I could turn to the boy and protest, he said "She means he's temperature hot." Who edits this show??? Did anyone else see this episode and have to do a double-take?
Even more of an aside, we had some friends for dinner when the boy made cochinita pibil a couple of weeks ago, and one friend mentioned that Rick Bayless is the kind of guy he expects to see in a dungeon clad in leather. Hm, food for thought.
I had some annatto leftover from who knows what, so into the blender it went with some lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt. Have I told you how much I love my blender on steroids? Not only can it do demure tasks like make smoothies, but it can grind spices and purportedly grind wheat berries for flour. That's my next experiment!
This spice paste was rubbed over a luscious pork shoulder from Marin Sun Farms, then the pork shoulder was wrapped in banana leaves and thrown into the slow cooker over low heat. I added a scant amount of water to the bottom of the crock to ensure that the leaves didn't burn before the pork started to release its juices. After 6 hours passed, I removed the banana leaves and the bone, and used two forks to shred the pork. The shredded pork went back into the slow cooker to simmer over low heat for another hour with all of the juices.
To accompany the cochinita pibil, I made the traditional side dish of pickled red onions. The boy first made this a couple of weeks ago, and even a life long raw onion hater (me!) liked it. If you want to make some yourself, thinly slice red onions, pour boiling water over the onions and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, rinse them in cold water. Once rinsed, cover the onions with lemon or lime juice and add a heaping spoonful of salt. In about an hour, you have really pink pickles that go well with any rich meat dish.
I've been checking up on my food experiments daily. The Indian lemon pickles have multiplied - I put up another jar of the stuff because it smells so good. When I can, I sit the jars out to cook in the sun. The miso smells like sake and is bubbling away, the infused vodka is taking on a golden hue, and the preserved lemons are probably done now and I should figure out what to do with them.