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Chicken Pibil

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons crushed achiote seeds, or chili powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced white onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Essence
  • 3/4 cup seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • Banana leaves


  • In a bowl mix together the achiote seeds, lime juice, 2 teaspoons of the garlic, turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a smooth paste. Place the chicken in a glass dish and coat with the paste. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let marinate refrigerated for at least 4 and up to 8 hours.
  • In a large sauté pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bay leaves, Essence, 1 teaspoon cumin and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sauté until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté until soft. Add the chicken pieces and any reserved marinade to the pot and brown on all sides. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a baking dish with banana leaves. Place 1 banana leaf on a work surface, and place 1 chicken piece in the middle. Spoon 1/4 of the onion-tomato mixture onto the chicken and wrap the leaf around the chicken as though sealing a package. Place in the lined baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken and sauce. Bake the chicken until cooked through and tender, about 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven and serve the chicken wrapped in the leaves with the accumulated pan juices.