Cochinita is traditional Mexican pulled pork cooked in a simple acidic mix of vinegar, garlic, onion and achiote (more on achiote later). I was recently introduced to cochinita by my Mexican friend who has struggled to find authentic Mexican food in Australia since migrating here. She classifies most of what is available as ‘Tex-Mex’, ie. not the real deal! When the offer of an authentic Mexican taco masterclass was put on the table I scrambled for my phone faster than you could say ‘si’ to lock in a Mexican cook off at my place. What resulted was the most intensely flavoured, vibrant, tender and mouthwatering pulled pork taco I have ever tasted and the method was SO EASY! Why has it taken me this long to discover cochinita?
Let’s start with achiote paste. Achiote paste is made from annatto seeds, spices and tomato and it has a vibrant orange-red colour. It has a very unique, mild earthy notes and gives the pork a distinct flavour unlike anything you have ever tasted before. You can find achiote in gourmet grocers or online at Fireworks Foods. You simply blitz the achiote paste with water, vinegar, garlic and onion to prepare the marinade, pop it in a pressure cooker with the pork and let it magically melt away. It’s that easy!
Pork leg is my preferred cut for this recipe as it is most flavoursome and shreds beautifully when cooked, but you could also use pork shoulder. If you prefer a thicker sauce simply simmer the liquid at the final stage to reduce the sauce to your desired consistency. Be mindful that the pork does soak up quite bit of liquid once shredded so I would shred the meat first.
Now onto the all important gluten free corn tortillas. If you have time to prepare them by hand, great. If you don’t I recommend Dona Cholita organic corn tortillas. They taste exactly like a freshly handmade tortilla and are hands down the best gluten free tortillas I have ever purchased. You will find Dona Cholita tortillas in the frozen section of limited grocers (head to their site for stockists). Simply thaw the tortillas when ready to use and heat over direct fire to warm. I prefer to place the tortilla directly over the fire on my stovetop for a crispier edge but if you prefer to warm them in a dry frypan that is also fine.
One last thing. The pork is even more intensely flavoured the next day so it will be back to back tacos for a couple of days. Hope you don’t mind!
- 1 kg pork leg or shoulder, cut into 5cm chunks
- Pork Marinade
- ¾ cup white wine or apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 50g achiote paste
- 1 brown onion, halved
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbs sea salt
- Picked Red Onion
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ tsp sea salt
- To serve
- Gluten free corn tortillas
- Red cabbage, shredded
- Coriander, chopped
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor and blitz to form a smooth paste.
- Place pork in pressure cooker or large pot and pour over marinade. Close the lid and cook in pressure cooker for 1 hr on low setting or 3 hrs on low heat in a regular pot. Whilst pork is cooking prepare the pickled onion by combining onion, lime juice and sea salt in a bowl. Set onion aside for 1 hr to pickle. When pork is ready shred pork with a fork.
- Cook tortillas directly on open fire for maximum heat and crispy edges. Heat on one side for about 10 sec and flip over for another 10 sec. If you prefer to use a frypan cook tortillas over dry heat. Cover tortillas with a tea towel to keep warm and soft.
- To serve fill warm tortilla with pork, picked onion, cabbage and coriander.