One of my all-time favorite Mexican spice blends is achiote, an original Mayan blend made with annatto seeds. Achiote paste, a.k.a. recado rojo, is now associated with the cuisine of the State of Yucatan. In my parents’ restaurant they used to prepare achiote dishes at least once every other month. It was sometimes cochinita pibil, and other times just chicken drumsticks and thighs in an achiote sauce.
This is another one of those recipes I had never tried until I needed new material for this blog. Isn’t it great that blogging challenges you to try new things? My dad used to buy an achiote paste for those recipes, but since I found some achiote seeds on sale I wanted to make it from scratch. First I thought about making cochinita (Ms. Peggy would be a cochinita in Spanish, just as a reference) but that required more ingredients than what I had at hand so I went with the other option, chicken “legs”.
- •1 TBSP annatto seeds*
- •½ tsp cumin
- •½ tsp ground oregano
- •1 tsp whole allspice*
- •2 TBSP ground chile ancho*
- •4 cloves garlic, minced
- •¼ cup vinegar
- •½ cup fresh orange juice
- •½ tsp olive oil
- •6 pieces chicken drumsticks and thighs
- •salt and pepper to taste
- Dry-toast annatto seeds along with the rest of the spices in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until fragrant, around 2-3 minutes.
- Cool slightly and grind in a food grinder (I used my blender on high speed)
- In a large bowl whisk together spice mixture, garlic, vinegar, orange juice, and oil until well blended.
- Coat chicken pieces with salt and pepper and arrange in a baking dish.
- Add the annatto sauce and marinate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C)
- Cover baking dish and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Chicken should be tender and fall right off the bone when tested with a fork.
- Serve with white rice and enjoy!
Although I remember my mom’s achiote being a lot tastier than mine, it was still very flavorful and didn’t disappoint me. I will try other recipes in the future and I will update this post with the new findings.