Yucatán-Style Barbecued Pork

This recipe is courtesy of Pat Gibson. Serve it with his baked Spanish rice and margaritas!


  • 1 head of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup achiote seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 3-inch Ceylon cinnamon stick or 1.5-inch cassia cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 6 to 8 banana leaves
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 12 bay leaves


Thread garlic cloves onto a metal skewer and grill directly over a gas flame for 3 to 4 minutes or until blackened on all sides. (You can also toss them in a dry cast iron skillet until blackened). Peel when cool.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add achiote, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin and allspice berries and cook, tossing and stirring, until fragrant—about 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender along with peeled garlic, juices, vinegar, soy sauce and a generous pinch of salt. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with more salt. The marinade should be salty and the consistency of ketchup.

Pour marinade over meat and rub it in with your hands. Cover, refrigerate and let rest at least 1 hour and up to overnight.Cut pork into three chunks. Wrap each chunk in a banana leaf along with a third of the tomatoes, red pepper, onion and bay leaves. Fold banana leaf tightly around the pork and veggies and secure with kitchen twine. Grill.

Charcoal Grill: Lit ¾ chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.

Place a few large hardwood (mesquite, hickory or applewood) chunks on the coals (no need to soak). Place aluminum tray or baking sheet with the wrapped pork on it on the side opposite the fire and close lid. Smoke pork aiming for a temperature between 250- and 300-degrees inside the chamber for 4 to 5 hours or until a metal skewer inserts easily into the pork.

Gas Grill: Here's a great link for smoking pork on a gas grill.

Remove pork from grill and transfer parcels to a serving platter or bowl. Unwrap banana leaves, shred pork and soak with drippings. Serve with corn tortillas, pickled red onions and hot dried-chile salsa.