I came across this recipe for Pollo al Achiote several years ago and was intrigued by the beautiful, bright red colors of the achiote. Achiote is prepared using annatto seeds combined with other spices. It does not really have a strong flavor, but yet a more subtle, earthy and smoky flavor. Since then, I have experimented with countless recipes using the annatto seeds, oil, powder and paste. I have never been disappointed with the dishes, but I have certainly learned quite a bit since then. And I continue to learn and that’s the beauty of cooking. There are so many variations, techniques and flavors yet to be discovered. I know for most, cooking soup during the month of August is a big fat, NO! Lol! I could eat soup anytime of the year, as long as their is AC available, ha, ha! This recipe and it’s flavors was adapted from the Yucatan. The flavors of achiote, sour orange and habanero are very common in that region’s dishes. And even if you don’t exactly feel like eating the the soup part of the recipe. I really suggest you try the chicken with the achiote marinade. Prep it the day before and next day just pop it in the oven to roast or on the grill for a short time. Here’s to getting creative in your kitchen and discovering new flavors! #foodieforlife #mexicanfood
Yields 4 Servings
*This recipe requires marinating time overnight
For Chicken Stock
4 chicken legs (about 3 pounds total)
1/3 large white onion, reserve the rest
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 stalk celery
2 bay leaves
Handful of cilantro
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
Salt to taste
For Achiote Marinade
1 1/2 ounces achiote paste
Sour orange juice (juice of 2 oranges and 2 limes mixed)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
You Will Also Need
1 large beef steak tomato, quartered
Reserved onion from above
1 red or orange bell pepper
1-2 chile guero(caribe) or yellow wax pepper
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
1 cup broth(from cooking chicken)
1/2 cup cilantro
Pepper to taste
If you do not live in an area where a good mix of mexican products are available, this achiote paste in readily available online. A little goes along ways and can be used for many dishes.
First Day, Prepare the Chicken Stock and Marinade:
Add the chicken to a large pot. Fill with 8 cups of water and remaining ingredients listed to prepare stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the top as needed.
While the chicken cooks, prepare achiote marinade. Add all of the ingredients to the blender. Blend on high until smooth, set aside.
Remove the cooked chicken from the broth into a storage container. Pour in the achiote marinade and toss to coat evenly. Marinate in refrigerator overnight. Strain the broth, let cool on stove top. Then refrigerate overnight.
The original recipe calls for the chicken to be grilled instead of roasted in the oven. I can only imagine the wonderful flavors added by grilling. Next time!
Next Day: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. Add the tomato, onion, bell pepper, poblano, and chile guero. Roast for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Transfer all vegetables to the blender. Add bouillon and chicken broth. Blend on high until smooth. Strain into a bowl.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Transfer marinated chicken to a baking sheet lined with a wire rack. Let come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes. Then cook under broiler for 3-5 minutes to crisp up and brown the skin. Remove chicken from oven and cover with foil paper to keep warm.
Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil to medium heat. Add the strained sauce and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off any fat from top of stock. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, juice of 4 limes and 1/2 of the cilantro. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
To plate, add one piece of chicken to a shallow bowl, ladle in the lime broth. Garnish soup with sliced limes and remaining cilantro Garnish chicken with pickled red onions(see link below). Serve with rice and warm corn tortillas.
The simple ingredients will yield some of your most delicious dishes.
Roasting in the oven is the way to go when you need them fast and for blending or rajas!
A good blender is a key to many, many Mexican dishes.
I know it’s easy to skip the straining of the sauce, but it’s a must in my book. It makes a world of differnce.
Cooking the chicken first to create this tasty homemade stock is a win, win situation. After the short roasting time, because the chicken was previously cooked, it was very moist and flavorful!
Two of my favorite things when cooking mexican foods, cilantro and limes!
Click onto picture above to see recipe on how to prepare Pickled Red Onions right on site.