Young pig marinated in a cacophony of delicious spices including annatto, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked until meltingly tender. If you’ve never tried it, now’s the time.






Skill level

Average: 4.5 (12 votes)


  • 1 kg (2¼ lb) pork leg
  • 450 g (1 lb) pork ribs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) achiote or red adobo (see Note)
  • 2 large banana-tree leaves
  • 120 g (4 oz) lard
  • sea salt
  • pickled onions (see below), refried beans, and spicy chilli salsa, to garnish
  • warm tortillas, to serve


Pickled onions

  • 3 medium white or red onions, sliced into rings or small dice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Pickling time overnight

Marinating time 8 hours

To make the pickled onions, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the onions in the boiling water for just under 1 minute. Strain the onions and transfer to a glass bowl.

Immediately add the vinegar, sugar, spices, herbs, lime juice, and a little salt, stirring slowly. Let sit, mixing occasionally. If possible, let marinate overnight.

Meanwhile place the meat in a large pot. Pour the sauce over the meat, cover, and chill overnight or for at least 8 hours, turning the meat occasionally so the adobo penetrates the meat.

Warm the banana-tree leaves over direct heat to soften them. Set aside.

Grease a large pot with 40 g (1½ oz) lard. Preheat your oven to 300°F/150ºC/Gas Mark 2.

Grease the leaves with 40 g (1½ oz) lard, then line the insides of the pot with them. Leave enough of the leaves sticking out over the edges to cover the meat afterwards.

Place the meat on the leaves in the bottom of the pot, then baste with the remaining lard and marinade. Season with salt and wrap the meat with the leaves. Cover the pot and seal the edges with aluminum foil.

Cook in the oven for 2½ hours. Add ½ hour for every extra half kilogram of meat, and then cook an additional ½ hour. 

Remove from the oven and let cool, covered, for a few minutes. Take out the pieces of meat. Shred the meat and serve garnished with pickled onion, refried beans, and hot chilli salsa, or in individual portions wrapped in the cooked banana leaves. 



• Achiote and red adobo is available commercially. If buying, dilute in 1 cup of orange juice and a good amount of apple cider vinegar before incorporating in this recipe. 


Recipe from Tacopediaby Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena, with photography by Isaís Quijano (Phaidon Press, pbk, $39.95).


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.