Noah & Lauren
It's been busy, I MEAN a very busy couple of weeks with our family. We were honored to host our son and his brides' wedding. It was a small intimate celebration to keep it simple. Mostly because I was panicked about the weather, wondering if it would be lashing rain and no place for all the people to find shelter.
The rains were here leading up to the evening before- about 7:30 pm the skies cleared, showed their glory with a beautiful sunset and the promise of no more rain. Yeehaw!
You have no idea how relieved I was that the skies cleared for our special day on our property. (we all were actually). The set up began; the chairs were lined up in rows, pretty flowers were arranged, food was prepared, family was here to help and make it all happen.
About 75 close family and a few friends gathered to witness, celebrate and support our families with love!
Everything turned out perfect, better than the bride and groom ever imagined in their words "perfect in every way and more than we ever imagined". Lauren was a beautiful princess bride, Noah was the cutest with tears flowing down his cheeks from the moment he walked me down the aisle to my seat. He turned to see his first look at Lauren as she came around the corner.. it was such a tender moment to see your son filled with such emotion, joy, love, & excitement.
It was a joy to host this special day for our kids. It was now time to rest and gear up for the second wedding to happen in 3 weeks...
Cooking for a crowd- we planned for 75 guests at the wedding. The recipe I was inspired by was from Serious Eats. I changed up a few things to make it work for our feast.
"Real cochinita pibil is not spicy, but it has a uniquely sweet, earthy aroma imparted by bitter Seville oranges, achiote, charred garlic, and a host of other spices. That earthiness is backed with the herbaceous aroma of the banana leaves it's cooked in, along with smokiness from hours of slow cooking in a smoky, steamy píib (or, in modern Mexican Spanish, pib), the Mayan oven consisting of a hole in the ground lined with hot stones."
For the Marinade
1 whole head garlic, separated into individual unpeeled cloves
2 tablespoons lard or bacon grease
1/4 cup achiote annatto seeds or about 1/2 cup achitoe paste
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
3 whole cloves
1 3-inch Ceylon cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
3/4 cup bitter Seville orange juice, or 1/4 cup each lime, orange, and grapefruit juice ( I used the latter)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder- I had the butcher cut our large roasts into smaller pieces so more surface area would be covered in the marinade. I also always season my meat with salt and pepper generously before pouring the marinade over it.
Wrapping the pork in the leaves:
6 to 8 banana leaves
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
12 bay leaves
Heat oil or lard in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add achiote, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, garlic cloves, allspice and cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a blender along with the orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and a big pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with more salt. It should be quite salty and have a consistency like ketchup. If too thick, thin it with water until it flows slowly.
Pour marinade over meat and rub it in with your hands. Cover, refrigerate, and let it rest marinade overnight or up to two days.
Light 3/4 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals adding a few split hardwood logs and let them cook down for 30-40 minutes. You want the wood nice and hot with ash, not roaring flames. Once the wood is hot and has cooked down, set cooking grate in place, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
When the fire coals are good and hot, place the pork roast on a grate over the fire. Turn the meat as needed to get a nice golden sear on all sides. Once all the meat is seared, remove for the fire and bring inside for the next step in the cooking process.
Lay out 2 to 3 overlapping banana leaves on a work surface. Place the pork in the center and layer with some of the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and bay leaves. You may need to make 1 or two separate bundles depending how your pork is cut from the butcher.
Form a tight parcel by folding the bottom side up and the top side down, then rolling in the sides. Secure parcel with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining pork and banana leaves. It’s almost like wrapping a beautiful gift!
Transfer the parcels to a deep roasting pan and place in the oven, slow roasting for several hours at 300˚ It took our piles of meat almost 6 hours at this temp.
Transfer the bundles to a platter, or rimmed tray. Unwrap banana leaves and serve, shredding pork with two forks, soaking it in drippings, and stuffing it into tortillas with pickled red onions.