Olive Oil (for frying)
1.5 Kg Lamb (Neck chops, or other stewing cut)
2 Cloves of Garlic (or more)
Large chunk of Ginger
400g Tomatoes (Tinned)
Stock (preferably Real Stock – Lamb or Beef)
½ glass Red Wine
1 tbsp ground Cumin (or more to taste)
1 tbsp ground Coriander (or more to taste)
2 Cinnamon Sticks
2-3 Bay Leaves
Fresh Chili (or ½ tsp chili powder to suit your taste)
Handful of dried Prunes
Handful of dried Apricots
Salt and pepper
Brown the lamb in batches in a cast iron casserole dish. Remove lamb and set aside.
In the remaining fat, cook the onions for a bit. Then add the ground cumin, coriander and chili stir and cook briefly. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
Arrange the lamb back in dish so it sits nicely on the bottom with the onions on top. Season with salt and pepper and add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, chopped garlic, tomatoes and stock (or water) so that the lamb is ‘almost’ covered (i.e. not drowning in liquid).
Cook in the oven on a low heat (140°C) for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can simmer it on the stove top for the same amount of time.
About half way through the cooking time, add the grated ginger.
Add the dried prunes and apricots about 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with the fresh coriander ripped on top, with cous cous or rice.
While I didn’t think too much of the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico“, I have the utmost respect for Robert Rodriguez’s 10 minute cooking school in the DVD extras for the movie. This dish is the one Johnny Depp’s assassin character (Agent Sands) is always eating in the movie and ends up ‘whacking’ the chef of some exceptionally good Puerco Pibil.
Ever since seeing the snippet, I’ve wanted to cook this dish and recently at my 30th birthday I finally did, and with great result. Everyone seemed to love it, and it disappeared pretty bloody quick.
We didn’t get a photo of the end result because it disappeared waaaaaaay to quick. So here’s me, the banana leaves from down the back of the yard, and my marinaded pork that I had ‘set aside’ earlier.
In New Zealand, getting hold of the key ingredient (besides the pork) was a bit of a mission. I found the Annato seeds from Mexi Foods in Dunedun and orders a descent size bag for $10 (although I didn’t use the credit card form, because they don’t t say what company takes the payments – they possibly just email your credit card info to themselves, which isn’t too good, but that’s just my assumption).
Then, once you’ve got those (and some banana leaves from my back yard) you’re good to go. Here is the 10 minute cooking school clip from youtube. Although, whoever uploaded this cut out the scene when Robert tells us to marinade the pork overnight.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Oh wait, that was the idea I wanted to send in to play school.
Here’s what you’ll really need:
For the Achiote Paste:
5 tbsp annatto seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
8 pieces allspice
½ tsp cloves
In a spice grinder/mill grind all the ingredients for the Achiote Paste into a fine powder.
The the dish itself:
2.6kg of pork shoulder or scotch cut into 5cm cubes (Americans say 5lbs pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes – those crazy yanks)
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
Juice of 5 lemons
8 cloves garlic
2 habanero peppers, chopped (habanero’s are pretty hard to find in New Zealand, just use 2-4 available chillies according to taste – although how you taste a chilli I’m unsure)
1 shot (or so) of the finest quality tequila you can manage
In a blender, blend annatto paste (spices), garlic, orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, chillies, tequilia and salt until smooth and well mixed.
In a large zip lock bag, add pork and the blended mixture and jiggle until evenly coated.
Leave in the fridge overnight to marinade.
Preheat oven to 175°C 160°C (325°F).
Line a deep roasting dish with the banana leaves, dump the pork mixture into the disk and cover with another layer of banana leaves.
Cover tightly with tin foil so the steam can’t escape and bake for 4 hours.
When it finally comes out, it should all fall apart when you dig a fork into it.
Serve on a bed of white rice, and some nice crunchy mild peppers, or try shredding the meat and eat it like a fajita in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato and sour cream.
PS: I have loads of annato seeds left if someone close want to try the recipe out 🙂