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Pibil-Style Pork Ribs

Pibil-style pork ribs takes the traditional flavors of the Yucatan dish, cochinita pibil, and scales it down to use a few racks of ribs instead of a suckling pig. Cooked in the oven, they’re marinated with orange and lime juice, habanero chiles, garlic, Mexican oregano, and achiote paste, before being slathered with spicy salsa.

Pibil-style pork ribs on sheets of parchment paper with a bowl of habanero salsa next to it.

Adapted from Edson Diaz Fuentes | Cuidad de Mexico | Hardie Grant, 2021

Cochinita pibil is the emblematic dish of Yucatan. Cochinita, the whole suckling pig, is doused in achiote marinade, wrapped in banana leaves, and slow-roasted in a pit. Annatto seeds are used as a natural coloring in the food industry. Achiote paste, a mix of crushed annatto seeds and spices, has a deep, vibrant red color and a unique peppery, musky flavor which pairs beautifully with pork.

A word of warning: the habanero chiles used in the marinade and the salsa give these spare ribs a good kick.–Edson Diaz Fuentes

Pibil-Style Pork Ribs

Pibil-style pork ribs on sheets of parchment paper with a bowl of habanero salsa next to it.

In Yucatan, sour oranges are used for the marinade. Try this with the bitter juices of Seville oranges, or mix together orange and lime juice. This marinade works particularly well with spare ribs. If you can get hold of banana leaves, they will add extra flavor, but the ribs can still be slow-cooked to succulence simply wrapped in baking parchment and foil. 

Edson Diaz Fuentes

Prep 30 mins

Cook 2 hrs 30 mins

Total 23 hrs

Entree

Mexican

4 servings

717 kcal

No ratings yet

For the pibil marinade

For the ribs

For the habanero salsa

For serving

Make the pibil marinade

  • Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a blender and blend until smooth.

Marinate the ribs

  • Place ribs in a large non-reactive container, such as a glass or porcelain dish. Cover with the marinade and refrigerate overnight.

  • Remove ribs from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C) and line a roasting pan with a large piece of aluminum foil, big enough to enclose the ribs.
  • Place a large sheet of baking parchment on top of the foil, then place the ribs on the baking parchment. Scrape out any marinade left in the dish and pour it over the top of the ribs, along with the water. Cover with a second piece of baking parchment and wrap the ribs in the paper and foil. Crumple the edges of the foil to seal.

  • Place in the oven and bake until the meat is well cooked and falling off the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

  • Increase oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Lightly brush ribs with oil and bake, in the open parcel, until the top of the meat begins to form a crust, about 20 minutes.

Make the habanero salsa

  • While the ribs are cooking, in a bowl, combine red onion, chiles, pickled red onions, pickling juice, orange juice, and salt. Mix well until the salt has dissolved.

  • Whisk in the olive oil and leave the salsa to infuse for 10 minutes. Taste to check seasoning and balance, and adjust accordingly with more juice, chiles, or salt if needed. This salsa should be spicy but with a fragrant and citrusy flavor. Add the cilantro just before serving.
  • Serve ribs straight from the oven, with habanero salsa, and black beans, if desired, on the side.

*What is achiote paste?

Achiote (or annatto) seeds are what give cochinita pibil its distinctive coloring. On their own, they don’t have much taste aside from a slight woody pepperiness. In general, the seeds are mixed into a blend of garlic, orange zest, cumin, sea salt, and habanero peppers which come in powdered, paste, or oil forms.  If you can’t find paste but do have powdered achiote seasoning, add water (a little at a time) until you have a paste. 

Serving: 1servingCalories: 717kcal (36%)Carbohydrates: 22g (7%)Protein: 32g (64%)Fat: 55g (85%)Saturated Fat: 16g (100%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 152mg (51%)Sodium: 1039mg (45%)Potassium: 864mg (25%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 12g (13%)Vitamin A: 594IU (12%)Vitamin C: 65mg (79%)Calcium: 96mg (10%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

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Originally published October 29, 2021

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