What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Anchiote or Annatto

For once I am going to post to weekend herb blogging early in the week so I don't have to think about it until Sunday night or Monday, because we could be traveling the rest of the week and I might not have time to get around to it.

This week I tried something for the first time: Anchiote or Annatto.

The inspiration came from The Mustards Cookbook, by Cindy Pawlcyn. We just tried the recipe for Achiote Chicken with Black Beans, Mango Salsa and Lime Crème fraiche.

It tastes as beautiful as it looks. One of the really good things about it is that you can do most of the work in advance. The night before, I pressure cooked the black beans and made the mango salsa. The next morning finished cooking the black beans while I was making breakfast, which only took an additional 15 minutes and while they were cooking put the chicken into marinade. So when dinner time came all I had to do was grill the chicken, heat the beans and mix together the lime crème fraiche which took all of 15 minutes or less.

Two comments:

1.) A pressure cooker is a life saver for cooking beans. I use mine every week for one thing or another. I consider it a "must have" kitchen item. I use them for canning to, but those pressure cookers are a lot bigger. Don't be afraid of them. They are safe and a real time saver.

2.) Where to find Achiote: Although we have one of the largest Latino markets in the country, a huge Compare Foods, it is on the far side of Durham, more than 30 minutes away and a place I have to go out of the way to get to. I was willing to do it, but went to the Food Lion in Hillsborough, the small town we live in and amazingly, they had two brands of Achioti. They didn't have the paste that was called for in the recipe, but it was simple to mix a little water in it and make my own paste. It really died the meat red. Had I known, we could have had it as a Valentine dish. It s definitely something I will use again.

3.) What the &#$&#*%)# is Achiote you ask? Don't worry, I wondered too!

Quoted from The Food Lovers Companion:
Achiote [ah-chee-OH-tay] The slightly musky-flavored seed of the annatto tree is available whole or ground in East Indian, Spanish and Latin markets. Buy whole seeds when they're a rusty red color. Brown seeds are old and flavorless. Achiote seed is also called annatto which, in its paste and powdered form, is used in the United States to color butter, margarine, cheese and smoked fish.

Who'd have thought? Live and learn.

Give it a try! I think you just might like it!

This is being submitted for this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Anna at Anna's Cool Finds. Be sure to go there Sunday night or Monday morning for the round-up and read what people like us are cooking around the globe!

Recipes: This entire recipe is too long for me to type in, so instead, I'll tell you what I did.

As stated above, I pressure cooked a lb of beans in about 4 cups water, at pressure for 20 minutes and let it come down to temperature without fast chilling. Without draining, I chilled them overnight. Make your favorite mango salsa. Refrigerate. Make sure it has roasted bell pepper, cilantro and lime. Cook onions, bell peppers, garlic and one Serrano chili until soft. Add black beans with the juice and zest of an orange and lime. Mix in cilantro, salt and pepper taste. For the chicken, I used a combination of skinned chicken breasts and thighs, bone in. I mixed about an ounce of achiote powder with water to make a paste and added it to the chicken in a zip-lock bag and massaged it in well. You could do it an hour before or 24 hours. I put them into marinade in the morning for cooking in the evening and boy, were they red. I grilled them on a preheated, oil grill pan for 2 minutes, turned 1/4 turn and grilled 2 minutes more; flipped and grilled 3 minutes on the other side, then put in a preheated 350 oven for about 5 minutes. As for the lime creme fraiche, add lime juice and zest to creme fraiche or sour cream or look on my website for a wonderful side of lime dressing. Voila!

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  • At 8:47 PM, Blogger CookingDiva - Chef Melissa said…

    Achite grows in Panama like weed! I love the little funky plant...Thanks for sharing your recipe :)


  • At 6:05 AM, Blogger Helene said…

    It looks yummy. Thanks for sharing. Have to look where I can find it, :)


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