Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pibil, earthen oven and Yucatan Panuchos

On saturday after a work party at the land, Jose, our main man and also an amazing cook, prepared a typical Yucatan dish, perhaps  it is also a typical Mexican dish, not sure.
First one of the turkeys were sacrificed for the occasion, a most delicious meal was to be prepared after partners and friends had put in a few hours of manual labor on the land.
A Pibil was prepared, an earthen oven as it where, Pibil is a Mayan word that mean burried or cooked under groundand is
a typical way of slow cooking in these part. 
Most typical is the slow cooking of a small pig, using the same recipe as for the turkey.
To prepare the animal for cooking it is basted in 
Achiote, a very red, very typical spice paste used here in the yucatan, 
the main ingredient of which is 
annato seeds.
It gives a wonderful flavor, and the Pibil renders a juicy and tender meat.
Once the bird is covered in Achiote it is placed in a big pot, a bit of water is added and finally it is covered with banana leaves, ideally I think it is wrapped in the banana leaf, and a tight fitting lit is placed on top. 
To prepare the Pibil, first a hole is dug, then a fire is lit using a 
high density type of wood that will
burn hot and long creating good coal, in NC the wood to use would have been Black Locust,
I can not remember which kind he told me they used here.
Once the fire has settled into burning embers, the big pot with the turkey is then 
placed onto the burning embers. Then boards are laid across the top
then a thick layer of leaf covered branches, then a few sacks that used to hold flour
and finally a thick layer of dirt.
For a good twelve hours or over night the bird slowly cooks in the
earthen oven, and can be left there for hours after the cooking is done, to simply stay warm.
The turkey was served to us all on top of Panuchos.
Panuchos is a variation to the corn tortilla that is served with all Mexican dishes so far as I can tell.
This kind of corn tortilla is baked a bit thicker than normal tortillas are, and therefor puffs up and makes a hollow inside that can then be filled with mashed black beans and fried. 
There are all kinds of Panuchos, in the sense that you can then add anything on top, our was topped with 
 raw finely chopped cabbage, red onion in the juice of bitter oranges
(this is something I have grown to love here, and is also very typical in all meaty dishes.
You cut a red onion in small pieces, pour boiling water over it and let it sit for a
few minutes, this to take the edge off the onion.
Then you pour out the water and add the juice of a bitter orange)
Anyways we added this on top of the cabbage, then some guacamole, some of the shredded turkey,
some crushed tomatoes as well as raw tomatoes, and finally traditionally
you add a nice dabble of habanero pepper sauce, I skip this step as the habanero is
ridiculously hot and burns my mouth from even a drop.
Besides the fried tortilla this is a healthy and extremely delicious meal,
and a specialty here on the Yucatan peninsula.
 I wish that once we live on the land Jose will introduce me to, and teach me how to prepare typical dishes of the region, and I will share them here in a weekly post.
Buen provecho!



  1. I've been reading your blog quietly for several months. It's time to say "HI" and thank you for sharing your journey on "the land"- I am soooo loving it! The photos, the stories, the photos, the inspiration- thank you, thank you!
    I wish you and your family the best on your beautiful journey- and please keep sharing bits of it with us : )

  2. yummo! you are making me hungry :-)

  3. Highly interesting. And I want a bite of the finished product. If I had had to dig a pit to cook this turkey, however, we would NEVER have gotten dinner on the table in time for Thanksgiving. :0)


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