Chef John’s Yucatan-Style Grilled Pork

This may not be an authentic Yucatan peninsula recipe, but it’s just as good as a similar dish to me at a sports bar. It has a vibrant citrus/chilli flavor and a lovely orange color from ground annatto.


. 2 oranges, juiced

. 2 lemons, juiced, or more to taste

. 2 limes, juiced, or more to taste

. 6 cloves of garlic, minced

. 1 tablespoon kosher salt

. 1 teaspoon annatto powder, or more to taste, plus more for sprinkling before baking

. 1 teaspoon ground dry chipotle pepper

. 1 teaspoon ground cumin

. ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

. ½ teaspoon dried oregano

. ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

. 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed

. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Step .1

Place the orange juice, lemon juice, and lime juice in a bowl. Add garlic, kosher salt, annatto powder, chipotle powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano, and black pepper. Beat until combined.

Step .2

Cut tenderloin in half crosswise; cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place the pieces in the marinade and coat thoroughly with the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the surface of the meat and marinade. (Or transfer the mixture to a resealable plastic bag.) Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours.

Step .3

Transfer the pork pieces from the marinade to a paper towel-lined bowl to absorb most of the moisture. Throw away the paper towels. Pour vegetable oil and a little more annatto powder over the pork.

Step .4

Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat and a little grated oil.

Step .5

Place the slices evenly on the hot grill. Let the meat char on the grate until the pieces can be turned easily, 4 or 5 minutes. Turn and grill on the other side 4 or 5 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 135 to 140 degrees F (63 degrees C). Transfer to a serving plate and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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