The Yucatan peninsula is a southeastern state in Mexico and it’s location separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. This state is very well known for its vast culture, pre hispanic sites and fabulous food. I particularly love the array of condiments and european flavors combined with Mexican food flavors. The Yucatan cuisine is influenced by the french, the cuban and the creole flavors that is why in the combinations you will see techniques like “papillote” using banana leaves, “ceviche” pickling method and the use of the annatto condiment also called achiote in many dishes. My favorite is Chicken Pibil or Pollo Pibil which is the recipe I will share with you today.
- 4 chicken breasts with skin and bone or one whole chicken
- 1 package of achiote or annatto paste (100 grams or 3.5 ounces. I you cannot find paste use granulated annatto instead)
- 3 cups of orange juice
- 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 teaspoons of Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 purple onions cut in rounds
- 1 habanero or 2 serrano chiles cut in rounds
- 1 tablespoon of pickling condiment
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1/2 cup of water
Preparation time: 2 hours. Serves 4-6 guests. Approximate cost per serving is around $3.00 depending on the cost of the ingredients at your local supermarket. You will need a pressure cooker and a food processor. I you don’t have a pressure cooker you can use a slow cooker instead though cooking time will extend for several hours.
Start by combining the achiote paste with the orange juice, the garlic, the oregano, the cumin, salt, and the vinegar in the food processor. When all ingredients are perfectly combined add the olive oil and pour this paste to the chicken breasts and let it marinade for 1 hour inside the fridge.
In the meantime you wait for the chicken to get the pibil flavors, prepare pickled onions by cutting them in rounds, then in a pot add the pickling condiments, the salt, water and the vinegar and let this preparation simmer at medium heat. When water is boiling add the chiles and the onions, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Cooking pickled onions is very simple and you can store in a mason jar for later use.
To continue with the process of cooking the chicken pibil, take the chicken out of the fridge and place the chicken with the pibil marinade inside your pressure cooker and add the bay leaves. Close the cooker and cook the chicken for 30-40 minutes at medium heat.
When ready open your pressure cooker following the instructions to avoid safety hazards and serve the dish with a side of white rice, the pickled onions and fresh warm corn tortillas.
Chicken Pibil or Pollo Pibil is a Yucatan cuisine favorite to enjoy for dinner or a special celebration. Indeed food for those with royal palate, a dish worth to be served to kings and queens!