Food and Film, Pork Pebil ala Robert Rodriguez
A few years back I got a call from my friend Bruce Jones. Bruce was the Operations Manager at CBS 5 in Phoenix. I met Bruce 15 years ago. He was working at ABC15 at the time. Bruce had come up with an idea for a grilling show, to be shot outdoors. A co-worker of his Don McClure had suggested me as the host. In our first meeting I suggested calling the project The Sonoran Grill. Over the next five years I met with Bruce at least once a week to go over the show.
The reason for Bruce’s call was to suggest I rent the Robert Rodriguez movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico. As an avid fan of the technical aspects of television and film, Bruce was very impressed with the film. All of the special effects were digital. In other words they didn’t blow anything up. Back in the studio they added the flames, explosions and so on. In the special features section of the DVD Rodriguez added a ten-minute film school and a ten-minute cooking school.
In the movie Johnny Depp’s character, “Sands”, a corrupt CIA agent, along with killing robbing and so on, is in search of the best Pork Pebil in all of Mexico. When ever he finds a worthy plate of this delicious slow roasted pork he kills the cook for some obscure artistic reason.
In the ten-minute cooking school Rodriguez gives his recipe for Pork Pebil, along with some good solid cooking advise.
Bruce was so impressed with the cooking school that he went out and got all the ingredients and made pork pebil. It was both delicious and easy. The recipe calls for banana leaves which work as a sort of flavored parchment paper. They can be found at Ranch Market, Food City or ordered at AJ's.
He transcribed the recipe from the cooking school and e-mailed it to me.
So the next time you have a lazy day around the house with family or friends coming over, give it a try. It’s delicious. This is good example of authentic Mexican cooking. The flavors are very complex and your house will be filled with a heavenly aroma.
We like to watch any of the El mariachi trilogy while we’re waiting for the meal. Like water for Chocolate is another great food related movie based in Mexico. And while we’re on the subject of food and movies Big Night, written, directed and starring Stanley Tucci is one of my all time favorite food movies. It truly reveals the soul of cooking.
Pork Pebil ala Rodriguez
Serve with any or all of the following; white rice, fresh corn tortillas, charro beans, chopped white onion, cilantro, avocado, roasted chiles, sliced cucumber, radish, tomato and ice cold Mexican beer.
2 lbs of banana leaves
2 5-lb pork shoulders
5 tablespoons of Achot`e paste
2 tablespoons of Cumin Seeds
1 tablespoon of Black pepper
8 balls of all spice
½ tablespoon of cloves
2 tablespoons of salt
Juice of 5 Lemons
3 Habanera Chiles seeded and veined
2 cups of Orange Juice
1/2 cup of White Vinegar
Splash of Tequila
Grind all dry ingredients (except salt) until very fine.
Blend with remaining ingredients (except pork and banana leaves)
in a blender until liquid and smooth. Cut pork into 2 inch cubes and place in a large Ziploc bag and pour your blender contents into the bag, seal and then coat all the meat in the bag.
Line roasting pan with layers of banana leaves and make sure there are no gaps. Pour entire contents of Ziploc bag onto the banana leaves and then fold them up and over the meat so that it covers the entire contents, sealing it up as much as possible. Cover the entire roasting pan with aluminum foil and seal it well so that no steam can escape.
Place the sealed pan into and oven/grill at 325 and roast for 4 hours. Discard the banana leaves and serve the meat over white or Spanish rice. The meat is very tender and we generally pull it apart for a pulled Puerco over white rice.
We have marinated in the bags overnight and it produces a somewhat deeper flavor.
A five pound roast will serve about 20 people.