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 iceberg lettuce, large outer leaves discarded, remaining separated into small cups
250ml green mole, (see note)
or 250ml Mexican salsa verde

Pork hock pibil

Quantity Ingredient
1 litre pork brine, (see note)
250ml Achiote relish
1 x 3kg free-range pork hock or shoulder, skin scored
oil, for brushing
salt, to taste


Quantity Ingredient
250ml agave syrup or honey
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
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. To prepare the pork hock, combine the pork brine with 125 ml of the achiote relish 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 remaining 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.
  5. Reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for 2 hours, until fork-tender.
  6. 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 fine-mesh sieve and keep warm.
  7. 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.
  8. Once crisp, brush the pork with some of the caramel and place the remaining caramel in a small serving bowl.
  9. 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 green mole 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 green mole and caramel.

Green mole

  • To prepare the green mole, combine 350 ml red mole, zest and juice from 6 limes, 2 large handfuls of mint leaves, 1 large handful coriander, 1 large handful flat-leaf parsley and 2 jalapeños in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. To finish, simmer 100 ml sherry vinegar and 100 ml agave syrup together in a small saucepan, until reduced to a caramel. Adjust the flavour of the mole, adding the caramel and 100 g bitter chocolate, a little at a time, until refined to suit your personal taste. Return the mole to the pan and gently reheat.

Pork brine

  • Combine all of the following ingredients in a large bowl: 500 ml water, 250 ml apple juice, 125 ml cider or white wine vinegar, zest and juice of 2 oranges, large handful of sage leaves, 100 g smoked paprika, 100 g ground cumin, 300 g sea salt, 25 g ground allspice, 1 ½ tablespoons honey, 3 smashed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons smashed black peppercorns and 3 bay leaves.
Paul Wilson
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