A couple of months ago my mom was insistent on me meeting her all the way across town to try this little Mexican place nearby her house that she had recently discovered. Usually, my mother and I are not quite on par when it comes to places that we enjoy dining out... so I was more than a little skeptical.
However, she tempted me with happy hour margaritas.
I'm a sucker. What can I say?
Needless to say, I drove the 45 minutes over to her with my fussy four year old in tow. After a margarita and some happy hour queso in my system... I was ready to order! I've made it a habit of asking wait staff what their favorite things on the menu are when I'm eating at a new place. Generally, if a waiter likes something...there's a good reason for it.
The waitress eagerly pointed out two items on the menu. I ordered one of the plates, and my mom ordered the other so that we could try both.
Our favorite of the two was the cochinita pibil. It was absolutely amazing.
I'd never had cochinita pibil before that day and instantly went to work looking into the cooking process. What I found was that the recipe was usually comprised of a pork roast, slow roasted in the oven for several hours within banana leaves.
Instead of heating my oven up in the warming months, I figured I would make use of my crock pot instead. I also swapped out the roast for pork tenderloin to save some calories and fat while keeping with the same basic flavors.
Skinny Crock Pot Cochinita Pibil
Servings: 9 • Size: 1/2 Cup • Calories: 181.9 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 4.2 g • Fiber: 0.6 g • Protein: 28.7 g • Sugar: 1.4 g • Sodium: 122.1 mg
1/3. C. Orange Juice
2/3 C. Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice
1 Jalapeño, Seeded & Diced
1 Habanero, Seeded & Diced
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Coriander
Salt & Pepper to Taste
2 Lb. Pork Tenderloin, Trimmed of Fat
2 Tbsp. Achiote Paste
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade together in a small bowl and stir until well combined.
Set aside for a moment.
Using a fork, pierce the tenderloins all over.
Take your achiote paste and rub the paste into the pork using bare or gloved hands.
Pour the marinade over the top of the pork, secure the lid and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours, though overnight is best.
You could also marinade these in a sealed ziplock bag if you prefer. Either way will work!
Once done marinading, set to cook in the crock pot for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
After the meat has cooked, remove the tenderloins and juices from the crock pot and shred together.
You can use any method you prefer, two forks or toss into the base of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on a low speed for a minute or two.
At this point... you could serve your pork and it would be perfectly amazing 'as is'.
However... if you're lucky enough to come across banana leaves - I would definitely suggest continuing on with the steps below for added flavor!
THE STEPS BELOW ARE NOT ENTIRELY NEEDED AS BANANA LEAVES ARE NOT FOUND IN MOST GENERAL GROCERY MARKETS.
Note: I am able to find frozen banana leaves in the frozen section of the international isle of my local HEB grocery store. I have been told that most Whole Foods Market and/or asian markets carry them as well.
Set the shredded pork aside and cleaned out the crock pot.
Cut up some large banana leaves, making them into 9 roughly 6"x6" squares.
Placed 1/2 c. of the pork mixture onto each prepared leaf and folded the leaves around the pork, making them into little packets.
I tied mine together with a long thin 'string' of banana leaf. Fancy, fancy.
Transfer the packets back into the cleaned out crock pot. Cover and cooked for another hour or two to let the leaves steam and disperse their subtle flavor into the pork.
Once done, remove from the crock pot and serve.
Note: You will want to discard the banana leaves just as you would a corn husk off a tamale. I wouldn't really suggest eating them. Hehe.
Serve warm and enjoy!