Border Grill

Santa Monica
1445 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451 1655

Las Vegas
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632 7403

445 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 486-5171


Cochinita Pibil
Chef Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill
Adapted by

Traditional pibil cooking from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula calls for marinating in a blend of achiote paste, citrus and spices before the little pigs (or cochinitas) are wrapped in fragrant banana leaves and lowered into a carefully built, banana leaf-wrapped pit called a pibe. Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill have adapted the dish they first tasted in Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan for the American kitchen.

Mary Sue and Susan serve the Pibil over a bed of fried plantain slices and white rice, then top it off with guacamole and pickled shallots.

Yield: 8-10 Servings


    Cochinita Pibil:
  • 1/2 cup achiote paste or annatto seeds
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 8 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds pork butt, cut in 3-inch cubes
  • 2 white onions, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 pound banana leaves, softened over low flame, or foil*
  • 4 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 8-10 fried plantain slices
  • 4-5 cups steamed white rice
  • 2 cups guacamole
  • 1 cup pickled shallots

  • *Banana leaves can be purchased at Asian and Latino markets and kept frozen for up to six months

In a medium bowl, mash together the achiote paste, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper with a fork. Add the pork cubes, toss to evenly coat, and marinate, at room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over high heat. Char the onion until blackened on both sides. Then char the tomatoes on both sides. Reserve.

Line a large baking dish with one layer of the banana leaves or foil. Arrange the pork in an even layer and top with the onions, tomatoes, chiles and all the marinade. Cover with more banana leaves and wrap the dish tightly in foil.

Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the pork is tender and moist. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before unwrapping.

To Serve:
Place a fried plantain slice on a plate, and spoon ½ cup of white rice on top of plantain. Place the cochinita pibil in sauce on top of the rice.
Place a dollop of guacamole on top and garnish with pickled shallots.



   Published: June 2005