Mexican steak v. puerco pibil

an email to my brother:

I’m still looking for the original Mexican Steak recipe. But I found this. And I know that there was some orange juice or orange zest in the orig. Also, R made a dish that smells very similar once cooked, but doesn’t taste as sweet. You might want to try it. As is it uses pork butt. But you could probably use steak. R thinks this is the origin of Mex. steak. Maybe someone came home and tried to recreate it 35+ years ago when this stuff wasn’t avaiable.

Mexican steak:
3 twenty ounce bottles of Del Monte Ketchup (Other ketchups have less sugar and so taste less sweet. You can change for your personal preferences.)
6 empty ketchup bottles of water (Makes sure you get the last of the ketchup out, too.)
12 Tablespoons of mustard (We always use yellow, but brown would probably just add a bit of kick.)
12 Tablespoons of Lea & Perrin Worchestershire sauce (This is non-negotiable in my opinion. But if you have a favorite W- sauce you can sub it.)
1 Tablespoon tabasco (If you don’t like any heat at all, you can lower this. If you like more, you can add. My dad can’t have it too spicy. Update: I put in 1.5 T and that is TOO much. My lips are burning. I had to drink soda in order to eat and the rice wasn’t enough to stop it.)
2 cups lemon juice
garlic (The recipe as it was originally calls for 18 cloves for this mix. I usually just use a whole head and call it done.)
onion (The original calls for 18 onions. -Because the original was much more about the onion than the ketchup. My family aren’t big onion fans.– I usually just use two. But you want to chop them up well.)

flour- enough to coat steak
oil (Don’t use anything that has a strong taste.)
6 pounds of steak

Take the flour. Mix in pepper and salt. (I just salt and pepper the steak before I coat the steak.) Coat steak. Pan fry until light brown outside. Then the steak in with the sauce and bake at 350. Cooking time: 2-8 hours. Longer is better.

2 sticks of butter in the recipe. I don’t use any butter in the recipe. I find that no one tastes the difference and I don’t look at butter on top of the sauce after it’s been in the fridge the way I make it. The butter is original to the recipe.

If it’s too spicy:
Add more of the other wet stuff.

The one I thought smelled and tasted like Mexican steak, maybe in its original incarnation is Puerco pibil. I got it off the internet at the Spice House.


5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
5 tablespoons annato seeds (aka achiote)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
8 whole allspice berries
2 habanero Peppers, fresh or dried, cleaned and minced (optional)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
8 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons salt
5 lemons
1 shot of tequila (I don’t know what a shot is. I figured 2 TBS.)
banana leaves (optional)
Preparation Instructions

Grind the annato seeds, cumin seeds, whole peppercorns, whole cloves, and whole allspice in a spice grinder or coffe grinder.

Blend the cleaned and chopped habanero peppers with the orange juice, vinegar, garlic and salt.

Mix the dry spices with the liquid.

Add the juice of 5 lemons and a nice splash of tequila. (I decided a splash was 2 T)

Place the cubed pork butt in a large zip lock bag and add the marinade. Soak 4-6 hours, in refrigerator, turning several times. (CHRIS! This is not a step in the original. I think adding this step in may be what made the thing too salty for reviewer #2.)

Line (8×13) baking pan with banana leaves. Pour in pork along with the marinade. Cover with Banana leaves and seal the pan with foil.

(CHRIS! We didn’t find b.l. But it was still delicious.)

Bake in a 325 F degree oven for 4 hours.

(CHRIS! R only cooked it for 3 hrs. It may be like Mex Steak and get better the more you cook it. )

Helpful Hints

Banana leaves are optional, because I haven’t found any locally yet.

Take it easy on Habanero peppers. HOT!HOT!!HOT!!!

Preground spices can be used in place of the whole spices, but the brilliant flavor of freshly ground spices really makes this dish what it is!

(CHRIS! The orig MS recipe didn’t have much sauce. Neither does this one. If you want more, I’d triple the recipe to start.)

(Editor’s note: It may be helpful to read the hints left in the reviews of this recipe. Another suggestion, given to us by Dennis from Rawlins, Wyoming, is to add brown sugar to the marinating mix, use limes instead of lemons, and only cook 3 to 3 1/2 hours in aluminum foil.)

Credit: This recipe was provided by Kenton Bolte from Seattle to the Spice House.

Note: Mixing the dry and wet goods did not make them mix better. I had a lot of the dry goods left in the mixer and the bag. So, I think I might just chop the habanero and garlic very fine and put all the wet and dry goods in the baking dish, mix them there, and then add the pork. If you aren’t marinating the pork it is a waste of plastic to put them in the bag anyway.