A Sunday Ritual, Featured

Cochinita Pibil

The first time I had Cochinita Pibil was in a west side Chicago neighborhood restaurant called Xni-pec, and I fell in love with it. A whole pork shoulder wrapped in a banana leaf and braised, then served in a soft corn tortilla with a generous spoon of your preferred salsa, it epitomizes everything I love about Mexican food. It is a beautiful balance of rich, tender meat, fat, bright citrus, and spice.

In thinking about what I might do for my second “Sunday Ritual” post, I let the weird weather we’ve been having dictate my decision. In March we had a long stretch of some summer-like weather, but in the past few days we’ve gone back to chilly, damp, and blustery. It definitely feels like we’re experiencing fall rather than spring. So instead of dreaming about early summer strawberries or light tomato salads, my mind is back in roasting and braising mode. Luckily I have a few pages photocopied from the braising bible, All About Braising, by Molly Stevens. Paging through my recipes binder, I found one for Cochinita Pibil I had saved! Oh Em Gee. It sounded perfect for a Sunday roast, and it didn’t sound very complicated, aside from a few steps I had never done before. Hell yes I was up for the challenge!

Luckily I live very close to a large Mexican supermarket, so I went and got some specialty ingredients (which you can also get at a Whole Foods or a more gourmet market if you don’t have a Latin market near you). I went home, prepped the meat, stuck it in the oven, and 6 hours later I had Cochinita Pibil. I mean, its a whole roasted shoulder, so I’ll have Cochinita Pibil for days (weeks, possibly a month). Bring it on!

Banana Leaves for Cochinita Pibil

P.S. This recipe requires some forethought as you need to marinate the meat overnight. Of course, I did not anticipate this, and I only marinated for 2 hours. It turned out really delicious, so if you do this the proper way, you will probably have something even more mind blowing.

All set

Cochinita Pibil

adapted from Molly Steven’s All About Braising

The Spice Paste:
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
2 Tablespoons of ground cumin
1 Tablespoon of oregano
2 dried red chiles, crushed or 1 ½ teapsoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons achiote paste (optional)
2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar

The Braise:
2-3 large fresh or thawed frozen banana leaves, rinsed and dried
One 7-9 lb bone in Boston butt or picnic shoulder, skin on or off

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the spice paste and set aside.
  2. With a pair of scissors, trim off the fibrous center rib that usually runs down the length of one side of the leaves and save it to tie the roast (you can also use kitchen twine. I used both.). Sear the banana leaves by passing it 2” above a burner flame on high. This makes the leaves more pliable. Set aside.
  3. If you bought a skin on roast, score a cross hatch pattern on the skin to reveal the fat underneath. Rub all over with spice paste.
  4. To wrap the pork with the banana leaves, lift the meat and place on one leaf and wrap it around several times. Lift the wrapped pork and place it on another banana leaf and wrap the meat perpendicular to the way you wrapped it the first time. Tie securely with saved leaf rib or kitchen twine. Set on tray and marinate in fridge from 12-24 hours.
  5. Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Let the pork sit at room temp while you wait for your oven to heat up. Place a little steamer rack (or if you don’t have one, an upside down plate would work too) at the bottom of a large dutch oven. If you have a roasting pan with a rack, that would also work. Fill the bottom with a couple of inches of water and place the banana leaf wrapped pork on top of the rack and cover tightly with lid or foil. Place in oven.
  6. After 3 hours, turn the pork over and then roast for another 3 hours.
  7. When the Cochinita Pibil is ready, shred it with two forks and serve with tortillas, salsas, onions, cilantro, wedges of lime. I made a quick red onion pickle . I also roasted some jalapeños just over a burner on my stove until they were blistered and black — just remember to de-rib and de-seed them if you don’t want them so spicey.

Have some banana leaves left over? Here are some other things you can make with them.

cochinita pibil

Editor’s Note: this post is part of the series “A Sunday Ritual” by guest blogger Debbie Carlos.


1 Comment
Tagged , , |

PGA (Please Generate Art): “Sound Collective” Progress

Awhile back, I mentioned that my classmates and I were working on a project for the graduate student component of Manifest, Columbia College Chicago’s annual, urban arts festival, which showcases the work of Columbia’s graduating students. The project devoted to graduate students is called PGA (Please Generate Art) an over-the-top, interactive art exhibit disguised as a miniature golf course. Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, and I put our pretty heads together to propose a noisy and bright installation for PGA (Please Generate Art) called Sound Collective. With DIY instruments, flashy colors, and mini golf obstacle courses, we hope that Sound Collective appeals to the child-like musicians in PGA’s participants and draws forth the joy of making noise and music that most of us keep buried and hidden from criticism.

PGA (Please Generate Art): handmade tambourines

We’ve been ambitious, but with help from Chris Naka, the Coordinator of Columbia’s Workroom (where we’ve been constructing Sound Collective), David Marts (my coworker and the man who helped create PGA), and the best husband in the world (Brian, obv), we’ve made quite a bit of progress in the last few weeks. Take a look!

Columbia College Chicago Work Room: yarn, glitter, and glue

The Workroom has many tools and supplies at our disposal. It is a happy place.

PGA (Please Generate Art): balloons and noisemakers

We had to order some special supplies, though. I guess we couldn’t have expected the Workroom to have 2,000 balloons and 400 noisemakers….PGA (Please Generate Art): rainbow painted bamboo

Caitlin, Laura, and I are each in charge of one section of Sound Collective. We’ll also be working together on a fourth section, which is where the balloons and noisemakers will come into play. My section is a giant xylophone! Oddly enough, the college had a bunch of unused bamboo in a basement on campus (perhaps from last year’s PGA…?). David picked up a lovely rainbow of paint, and we got to work brightening up the bamboo.

PGA (Please Generate Art): handmade xylophone

Once dried, Chris and his student workers graciously constructed the xylophone for us with a couple of 2×4’s and some nails.

PGA (Please Generate Art): gold and silver jingle bells

Caitlin’s section is a jingle bell tunnel! That’s 600 jingle bells, people.

PGA (Please Generate Art): silver tunnel

She got pretty creative with a dryer vent and some scissors.

PGA (Please Generate Art): Caitlin O'Meara & Laura Bock

Here, Caitlin and Laura work feverishly to tie all those little jingle bells to the wire skeleton of the dryer vent, using flashy strings of tinsel.

PGA (Please Generate Art): handmade jingle bell tunnel

Oh, to be a golf ball sliding down this whimsical tunnel…

PGA (Please Generate Art): making tambourines

Laura’s section has been dubbed the tambo-ring of fire. It involves lots of handmade tambourines (using painted embroidery hoops and colorful pipe cleaners), a hula hoop, and a ramp.

PGA (Please Generate Art): Brian West making tambourines

Brian is a masterful tambourine maker.

PGA (Please Generate Art): Sarah Ervin with a cosmic hula hoop

And did I mention that the hula hoop lights up? You don’t wanna miss this, folks. Come and join the fun on Friday, May 4th. We’ll be at 1104 S Wabash (Chicago, IL) from 1pm to 7pm. Make some noise with us!

A Pretty Pair

Rainbow Room

collage by Devin Troy Strother; photograph by Guerra de la Paz

{ Dead Cheetahs and Shit by Devin Troy Strother (via The Art Cake) }

{ Untitled by Guerra de la Paz }

Viewing Pleasure

Melvin the Mini Machine

This short rocks. I wish I had a bag of tricks like this. I don’t even know where you would start making such a crazy contraption.

Leave a comment
Maker's Remarks

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Oh man. I’m excited. Why? Because I’m about to share my mini interview with Arlie Trowbridge, the stupidly talented woman behind Urban Revisions. I’ve loved her work for ages now! Arlie was sweet enough to answer a few questions — some silly, some serious — for the latest installment of my Maker’s Remarks series. And the timing couldn’t be better, because she’s just released her Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Oh how these sherbet colored pieces make me wanna run outside and chase an ice cream truck!

handmade glass and leather purses by Urban Revisions

How did Urban Revisions start? Did you have a “quit your day job to start an Etsy shop” sort of moment?

Urban Revisions started in early 2009 by accident. I had just started getting into reading fashion blogs and the DIY shredded t-shirt craze was in full effect. I gave it a try and was immediately addicted to the process of “revising” the most basic article of clothing – a tee. My friend started modeling them in “urban” settings around Richmond, and the Etsy shop was born. Shortly after my first couple of sales, I was awarded a fellowship by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Couldn’t have been better timing. This allowed me to “quit my day job” and really pursue selling my work.

Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions

Your shredded T-shirts are so unique, and it seems like your beautiful glass jewelry requires a lot of skill to create. What’s the inspiration for your pieces and the process for making them?

There’s no doubt that I love things with an organic feel to them. Almost anything that I’ve ever created and really loved came about by accident… there’s something really special about working with glass and distressed fiber. You can melt and shred forever until something amazing comes about. In the end, everything always has this delicate look but in actuality, cotton and glass have really strong qualities.

shredded cotton scarf in orange sherbet

Would you say you’re more of an urbanite or a nature-lover? Or a perfect mixture of both?

Both! I’ve lived in or very close to a city the majority of my life. I need to be near the sound of people’s hustle and bustle but I also need our long camping trips in the middle of no where and our afternoons hanging down by the James River.

shredded cotton t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s a typical day in the life of Arlie Trowbridge? Take us through a brief snapshot of your day, from morning to night?

Wake up, stumble to the coffee pot, fill the largest mug available, stumble to the studio and slowly open my eyes over emails and blogs.
Thats the first step, and then it’s either …

a. start shredding
b. start torch working
c. start dyeing
< or >
d. start day dreaming

I’m really all over the place, and it feels awesome.

handmade glass cluster rings from Urban Revisions

Would you rather have the ability to breathe underwater or the ability to fly? Explain.

Breathe underwater!!! In fact, this is something I’ve dreamt about many times. I spent many days at our local pool pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid when I was little. Some people have commented on my cluster rings and leaf earrings, saying they remind them of coral. I love that. Marine life is fascinating.

handmade shredded t-shirt from Urban Revisions

What’s your favorite part of creating & selling your handicrafts?

The people I have had the pleasure to “meet”! The internet is such a powerful tool. Knowing that there are ladies all over the world wearing Urban Revisions is incredible to me.

handmade glass cluster ring from Urban Revisions

BTDubs, if you’ve read through this interview, you’ve got a special treat coming. You can enter Arlie’s giveaway on Facebook to win the spectacular glass cluster ring pictured above. Get on over there and enter!

Swig & Swill


Seelbach Cocktail

With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner, it’s not too early to dust off your mint julep recipes to make sure they’ve still got it. What’s that? You’re afraid you’ll catch mint julep fatigue before the big day? Never fear. Just work the classic Seelbach cocktail into your derby repertoire. The Seelbach was created in 1917 at the famed Louisville hotel of the same name. If you happen to like manhattans and champagne more than mint, this may end up being your derby cocktail of choice.

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 7 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Champagne

Add all ingredients except Champagne to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe and top with chilled Champagne and a lemon peel.

Leave a comment
Tagged , , , |