A good habit to get into before grocery shopping is to quickly inventory your pantry. How many times do you come home with the third jar of cumin or chili powder because you were not sure if you needed it? It used to happen to me often. And for that reason, I have learned to cook from my pantry using up older ingredients before purchasing more.
What is Achiote?
For todays blog post I was in search for tasty marinade for my pork chops. And lucky for me, I have a good stash of one of my favorite ingredients which is achiote paste. Achiote, or recado rojo, is a blend of spices ground up into a paste. It was originally used by the Mayan people and is used in many delicious Mexican dishes. Some of the most popular recipes that come to mind are tacos al pastor, cochinita pibil and pescado yucateco. The achiote paste gets it’s bright red color from the annatto seed.
More Achiote/Annatto FYI
Annatto can be found in the whole seed, powder and sometimes in an oil blend. Some of the spices in the achiote include, annatto, Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper and salt. I have used all forms in different ways. It does not really have a strong or spicy flavor. Just a subtle earthy, somewhat smoky flavor in the backround. It’s most popular pairing, in my opinion, is citrus, Both limes and oranges are a good starting point when working with an achiote marinade. And of course fresh garlic is a must. This is one of those recipes that favors a longer marinate time. The pork chops really absorb the citrus and chile flavors. Want some added smoky flavor? Grill it!
I find that the bone on pork chops are less expensive and actually more flavorful!
Chuletas de Cerdo en Achiote (Achiote/Chile Marinated Pork Chops)
- 1 1/2 ounces of achiote paste crumbled
- 1 full teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 tablespoon chile ancho powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- 3 pounds bone on pork chops
- In the blender, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Blend on high until smooth. You may have to pulse it a few times to make sure you get all the garlic and peppercorns broken down. Pour marinade over the pork, either in a baking dish or a heavy plastic storage bag. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the pork from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. Prepare your grill and heat to medium/high heat. Brush grates with oil. Cook/grill the pork chops for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed during cooking time. Internal temperature of the pork should read 145 degrees.
- Remove from grill onto plate. Cover loosely with foil paper and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings