I've had a continual craving for pibil--the classic southern Mexican pork (cochinita) or chicken (pollo) dish of braised meat wrapped in banana leaf--ever since I was introduced to the chicken variety in a town outside of Chichen Itza, Yucatán, two Novembers ago
Pibil revolves around three essential ingredients: achiote (annatto seed), bitter orange juice and banana leaves. If you want to be hardcore about it, you'd bury a whole suckling pig and cook it in the pit. Yeah, pass. I'm not digging a hole or burying an animal in the yard. The HOA would likely frown upon that.
Sub in a pork butt (shoulder) and use a Dutch oven in lieu of said pit. The majority of the recipes for cochinita pibil online are more simple than intricate, but if you're going to take the time to make the dish, you should aim for the most developed flavor possible. Gustavo and Dave will undoubtedly have some profanity-laced resistance to what's coming next, but the most complete marinade I could find was from Rick Bayless' cochinita pibil recipe
Only, his recipe serves 12 to 15 people, which is a bit frustrating because nobody cooks for that many people on a daily basis. Minor criticism and calculations aside, the only bonus of having the recipe for such a large quantity is you'll have enough seasoning (and possibly banana leaf) leftover to make pollo pibil sometime in the future.
Here's how it's done:
Toast the spices (1 1/2 T of black peppercorn, 1 1/4 t of cumin seeds, 1/2 t of cloves and 6 inches of 1/2-inch diameter cinnamon stick) until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes on medium-high heat. You'll combine the spices with 2 oz. of achiote and 1 1/2 T of dried Mexican oregano. Process the mixture in batches to ensure the finest rub you can produce. The less you grind up the ingredients, the grainier the final product will be.
That mix gets combined with 3/4 cup of bitter orange juice, 7 garlic cloves and salt in a blender to create the final marinade. You can make the bitter orange juice yourself with fresh bitter oranges, or by mixing fresh orange and lime juices together. You can also purchase a bottle of Goya bitter orange at most local Mexican markets.