Cochinitas Pibil (Mexican Citrus Braised Pork)

Gluten Free Cochinitas Pibil Tacos

there's something incredibly satisfying about eating with your hands, but it seems like everything in the world is held by gluten. pizza, burgers, wraps, sandwiches - gluten makes an excellent handle. but then there are tacos. reid turns everything into tacos. breakfast-tacos, vegetarian-tacos, and these. these are our favourite tacos ever. they're modelled after a taco stand at jean talon market in montreal that sells exactly one type of taco: cochinitas pibil. they start with the meat - pork shoulder slowly braised in achiote paste, garlic and orange juice. then you add some refried beans for a nice soft texture to round out the pork. throw some pickled onions, hot sauce and cilantro into the mix and you're done. I'll warn you though, these aren't clean tacos.

the tortilla is really important in this equation. try to find a fresh source of good tortillas (la tortilleria in toronto is quite good, or look for mex-i brand tortillas in montreal) and heat them through properly. for more information, see the note at the end of the recipe. or make your own corn tortillas!

Variations

refried beans are pretty damn good in this context, but they're a bit of a hassle to make if you don't own a pressure cooker. if you don't feel like cooking them and you have an aversion to things that retain the shape of a can when you remove them, you could switch out the beans and add guacamole instead. 

Ingredients

2 lbs. pork shoulder
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsps. achiote paste
1 1/2 cups valencia orange juice (can be substituted with equal parts lime, orange and grapefruit juice)
2 tbsps. white vinegar
1 tbsp. oregano
1 stick cinnamon (ceylon preferred)
Pork stock to cover (about 1 cup)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 250°F. If using a pressure cooker, skip this step.

Cut the pork into 1.5 - 2" slices

Brown the pork in a dutch oven or pressure cooker over medium high heat with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Remove the pork, turn down to medium heat and add the garlic and achiote. Sautée for a few minutes, until the garlic is fragrant, breaking up the achiote paste with a wooden spoon.

Deglaze the pot with a few tablespoons of orange juice, scraping off the browned bits at the bottom.

Add the rest of the orange juice and the vinegar. Whisk until the achiote dissolves. If the paste is not dissolving, an immersion blender will help. Add pork, oregano, cinnamon and pork stock to just barely cover the pork. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and place it in the oven on the middle rack.

Keep the pork in the oven for about 2 hours, checking for tenderness after an hour. If using a pressure cooker, cook at pressure for about 35 minutes. When it's done, you should be able to break the pork up with the side of a wooden spoon.

Remove the pot from the oven and use a slotted spoon to take the pork out of the cooking liquid.

Reduce the liquid over medium high heat until it is reduced by half. Meanwhile, break the pork up into small bits on a cutting board using a pair of forks.

Add the pork back and stir the mixture to coat the pork.

Serve with refried beans, pickled onions, hot sauce and cilantro on a tortilla.

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