How to make Mayan style slow cooked pork loin (video)

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I've worked in kitchens all over San Francisco, from small locally owned mom and pop restaurants to Michelin-starred kitchens. In every San Francisco kitchen I've worked in, I have almost always been alongside at least one Mayan. I tend to immediately connect with them and develop a strong work chemistry.
Throughout those years, I have eaten a great deal of Mayan cooking. There's a beautiful balance of acidity, sweetness, and spice in their cuisine. This recipe is inspired by two of my favorite Mayan dishes Cochinita Pibil and Poc Chuc. Cochinita pibil is slow cooked pork butt rubbed in annatto, spices and wrapped in banana leaves. Poc chuc is thinly sliced pork marinated in citrus or white vinegar, salt, pepper and habanero then grilled. It is usually served alongside a salsa made of roasted tomatoes and red onions. This recipe makes for a delicious bright dish that will definitely excite your taste buds.
Mayan style pork loin
Cooktop Cove
Preparation Time: 15 min
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Serves: 6-8
3 lb pork loin
3 tablespoon achiote paste/powder*
5 garlic clove, peeled and minced and smash to a paste
1 tablespoon oregano, dry
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon coriander
2.5 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
4 oranges, medium size
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, washed, trim the bottom stems 1 inch
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1.5 tablespoon sugar
2-4 tablespoon canola oil (or any vegetable oil)
*Achiote paste substitute: 1.5 teaspoon Spanish paprika (or 1.5 teaspoon chili powder)
1. Combine achiote paste/powder (or substitutes), oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, garlic and 2 tablespoons of vinegar, mix well. Spread mixture evenly all over pork tenderloin, using your fingers massage the mixture well into the meat.
2. Put a sauté pan on high heat, allow the pan to get very hot waiting about 1-2 minutes. Once the pan is hot, add in oil and spread evenly on the pan by lifting the pan and rotating, allowing the oil to evenly coat the bottom. Use as much oil as needed. With the pan hot, just starting to slightly smoke carefully place pork loin in pan, and adjust the heat to medium-high. Once it has a nice crust and is browned about 1-3 minutes, rotate to brown another side. Continue this until all sides are brown. Remove loin from pan and set aside.
3. Using the same pan, add in onions, sauté for 3-5 minutes until tender. Then deglaze with orange juice. Make sure to stir the juice, lifting all the drippings from the bottom of the pan.
4. Place the loin in a 6-quart slow cooker then pour orange juice and onions on top. Spread 2/3 bunch cilantro evenly on top creating a sort of canopy. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145° F.
5. Carefully remove loin from pot and discard cilantro, allow to rest on a plate for at least 15-20 minutes. Do not cut into the loin at this point, it is important you allow the meat to rest, this keep it's juices locked it.
6. Pour the liquid and onions from slow cooker into a pan or pot and turn on high heat to reduce, allow to reduce by a third or until the liquid has thickened into a consistency slightly looser than maple syrup, then add sugar and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Finish with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
7. Slice pork into half or 1-inch pieces, drizzle sauce reduction with onions on top and garnish with remaining cilantro and slices of orange. Serve with rice and/or tortillas for a complete dish.
Pro Tip: If you have banana leaves available to you definitely get some to use for this recipe. There's nothing like the mellow scent of banana leaves locking in the steam and adding more depth and flavor to the pork. Simply lay them over the cilantro tucking the banana leaves into the edges to lock in the steam.
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