Poc Chuc: Mayan-Style Marinated Pork

A bit of business to get out of the way before we begin: this is not “authentic” poc-chuc, and we’re not trying to make authentic poc-chuc. Why is that? The ubiquitous Yucatecan restaurant dish, which consists of of thin, flattened pork, marinated in orange juice, and served with pickled onions and fresh corn tortillas, as prepared by most restaurants, simply isn’t that interesting. Blasphemy, you say?

Poc-chuc, the way the Mayans did it, began its humble history not so much as a delicious way to prepare food, but as a means of preservation. Tough, wild pig was pounded out flat to tenderize the meat, and then cured with a salt brine. It could last this way for months, before the salt was rinsed off, and the pork was cooked over an open fire. Somewhere along the line, those rascally pyramid-building so-and-sos realized that, during the rinsing stage, the preserved meat would taste marginally better if it was rinsed in locally-available sour orange juice instead of water, and would taste even BETTER if it was then buried in a mound of habanero peppers.

Most authentic poc-chuc recipes, as used by both the home cook and in many restaurants, calls for the same brine-marinade-grill method of preparation, with the same palette-numbing results. We wanted to see if we could take some of the basic flavors of the dish, and brighten them up a bit, using thick cut pork chops instead of flat-pounded cutlets. It may not be strictly “authentic,” but it is delicious, uses readily available ingredients, and doesn’t bog you down with all that brining business.

Poc Chuc: Mayan Style Marinated Pork
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2495 calories
206 g
683 g
89 g
232 g
21 g
2441 g
888 g
146 g
0 g
34 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2441g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2495
Calories from Fat 796
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 89g
136%
Saturated Fat 21g
107%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 25g
Cholesterol 683mg
228%
Sodium 888mg
37%
Total Carbohydrates 206g
69%
Dietary Fiber 22g
89%
Sugars 146g
Protein 232g
Vitamin A
198%
Vitamin C
1012%
Calcium
75%
Iron
68%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the pork
  1. 1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
  2. 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  3. 10 cloves garlic
  4. 2 ounces achiote paste
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Four thick-cut bone in pork chops
For the Mango Habanero Salsa
  1. 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, seeded and deveined
  2. 1/2 red onion
  3. 2-3 mangos, peeled
  4. 2 tbls fresh ginger
  5. 1-2 habanero peppers (to taste)
  6. 1 tbls honey
  7. 2 limes
For the pork
  1. Combine first five ingredients in blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Cover pork chops and marinate, refrigerated, overnight. Grill on hot grill or under broiler until crusty, caramelized bits form. Serve with beans, pickled onions, corn tortillas, and for extra pizazz, top with…
Mango Habanero Salsa
  1. Chop first four ingredients as finally as possible, or until you run out of patience, and combine in a medium-sized bowl. The amount of mangos you use will depend on your proficiency with removing the flesh from the pit, but it shouldn’t take more than three. Add minced habanero peppers to taste, remembering that as the salsa sits, a lot of the heat will mellow. Finally, add the juice from two limes, and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
beta
calories
2495
fat
89g
protein
232g
carbs
206g
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Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

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