Annatto life

One of the nice things about mexican food is the variety of spices it uses in its recipes. While not as big as, say, Indian food, it is something to be relished, and I have to say I have been learning much about it. One of the spices I found lately is Achiote, or Annatto, derived from the seeds of Bixa orellana, or Achiote (tree).

Achiote is tangy, and a bit bitter, and usually sold in the form of paste that includes other spices such as pepper and chilis. This paste is usually dissolved in a bitter liquid in order to bring out the flavor of the spices. Traditionally, the juice of bitter oranges is used, but any variety of vinegar can be used as well, as long as it is not balsamic or sweet. I decided to splurge a little bit and try it with Maple Vinegar, to try and accentuate the wooden taste of the annatto instead of the spice of the chilis. It was a bold move, yes, since it would have been easier just to use apple cider vinegar, but I went with it. I mixed the paste with the vinegar (just a shot) and a couple of garlic cloves.

I coated the chicken evenly with the sauce before putting it in the crockpot with the rest of it, and let it cook for five hours. The original recipe has the chicken in pieces wrapped in banana tree leaves, but I did not spend time looking for those. Since it came out a little bit dry, I will add an onion (sliced) to the bottom of the pot next time to provide a bit more of juice, and reduce cooking time a little bit.

But the taste was so good, oh Sweet Gandalf it was delicious!


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