Pork hock pibil with lettuce cups & fragrant jicama salad

Pork hock pibil with lettuce cups & fragrant jicama salad

Chris Middleton

Pibil pork is an ancient dish from the Yucatán Peninsula, another barbecoa classic that is worth the lengthy preparation. Once you discover the flavour of achiote, you will find yourself looking forward to the next experience. This particular pork cut is all about the dramatic presentation and everyone feasting together. If you can’t find jicama, substitute pears, celeriac or radishes. The marinade will make a roast pork cut taste delicious too.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 3kg pork hock or shoulder, skin scored
125ml Achiote relish
oil, for brushing
salt, to taste
1 iceberg lettuce, large outer leaves discarded, remaining leaves separated into small cups
250ml Mexican salsa verde

Pork brine

Quantity Ingredient
250ml apple juice
125ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
125ml Achiote relish
2 oranges, freshly grated zest and juiced
1 large handful sage leaves
100g smoked paprika
100g ground cumin
30g sea salt
25g ground allspice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, smashed
3 bay leaves


Quantity Ingredient
250ml agave syrup or honey, (see Latin Larder)
250ml cider vinegar
1 litre seville or bitter orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
4 whole cloves


Quantity Ingredient
2 jicamas, cut into matchsticks, (see Latin Larder)
6 large handfuls watercress
3 oranges segmented
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large handful oregano leaves, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
200ml Zesty lime dressing


  1. Combine the pork brine ingredients together with 500 ml water in a container large enough to hold the hock. Place the pork in the brine, cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally for even brining, for 48 hours.
  2. Remove the pork from the brine. Rub the achiote relish over the hock, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  4. Brush the pork with oil, sprinkle with salt and place in a roasting tray. Cook for 20 minutes until the skin begins to crisp. Reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for 2 hours, until fork-tender.
  5. To prepare the caramel, combine the agave and vinegar in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to a glaze. Add the orange juice and spices and simmer until reduced to a rich syrup. Strain through a finemesh sieve and keep warm.
  6. Ensure the pork is crispy all over – in a restaurant they would fry it until the skin blisters, after long, slow cooking. You could also do this at home using a deep-fryer without the basket. Once crisp, brush the pork with some of the caramel and place the remaining caramel in a small serving bowl.
  7. To serve, combine the salad ingredients, except the dressing, in a bowl. Dress and toss to coat. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl and surround with lettuce cups. Gently warm the salsa verde and place it in a small serving bowl and serve alongside the caramel. Place the pork hock on a large serving plate and present it in the centre of the table. Pull the meat apart in front of your guests and allow them to serve themselves, filling the lettuce cups with salad and shredded pork and topping with salsa verde and caramel.
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