1 banana leaf, cut in half
culinary string
5 lbs. chicken, in pieces
8 oz. achiote paste
1 cup bitter orange juice or regular orange juice with a long squeeze of lime
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried, powdered Mexican oregano or epazote
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
6 radishes, finely minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely minced
1 cup bitter orange juice or white vinegar

Cooking Instructions

In a large bowl, dissolve the achiote paste in the bitter orange juice, then add the spices and garlic to make a meat marinade. Add the chicken pieces and turn to cover with the marinade. Lay the string in the bottom of a pan, then lay half the banana leaf in the other direction. Lay the other half-leaf in the direction of the string. Place the marinated chicken on one side of the leaf, and pour any extra marinade over the chicken. Cover the chicken with the overhanging leaf ends and tie the string to make a package, then cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. Marinate at least eight hours in the refrigerator, opening foil and turning the package of leaves and chicken over once. For the salsa, mix the radish, red onion, cilantro, and bitter orange juice or vinegar in a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least three hours. Next day: Preheat oven to 350° and bake chicken for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until tender. Serving: Lay the package on the serving platter and untie the string. Fold back the leaves. Serve on the banana leaves with warm corn tortillas and radish salsa.

Note: This dish is an excellent choice for a party. Very few people have tasted Pibil, it looks beautiful, and it can be made in advance. You can buy Mexican oregano, epazote, achiote paste, bitter orange juice, and banana leaves at Mexican markets or on-line.