Chicken Achiote Recipe

by vitus
Chicken Achiote

Let’s face it: chicken can sometimes fall under the “meh” category in dinner rotations. But what if I told you there was a way to elevate your bird to superstar status? Enter Chicken Achiote, a dish about to become your new weeknight hero.

What Is Chicken Achiote?

Chicken achiote’ typically refers to a dish where chicken is marinated or cooked with achiote paste or achiote seasoning.

Ingredients:

For The Achiote Paste (Makes extra for future use):

  • 2 tablespoons achiote seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (white or red wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste

For The Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs), or bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • Additional marinade ingredients (see variations below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for grilling)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Make The Achiote Paste:

  1. Over medium heat in a dry skillet, fry the achiote seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns for about 15 seconds, until fragrant. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  2. Move the fried spices to a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.
  3. In a frypan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or until softened.
  4. Add the ground spices and cook for extra 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the water, vinegar, and oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  7. Using a blender or immersion blender, pure the mixture until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Marinate The Chicken:

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the achiote paste. Use your hands (wearing gloves to avoid staining) to massage the paste evenly over the chicken.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, ideally overnight, for maximum flavor.

Variations:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or orange juice to the marinade for a citrusy twist.
  2. For a smoky touch, Add 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to the marinade. (Adjust according to your spice preference.)
  3. For extra spiciness, Add a few dashes of hot sauce or a finely chopped Fresno chili pepper to the marinade.

Cooking The Chicken:

  1. You can bake, grill, or pan-fry the marinated chicken. Here are instructions for each method:
  2. Baking: The oven should be preheated to 400°F (200°C). Arrange the pieces of chicken on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes for a whole chicken and 30-40 minutes for bone-in pieces, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part. Baste the chicken occasionally with pan drippings for extra flavor.
  3. Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Rub olive oil on the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  4. Pan-frying: Heat up olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.

Tips:

  • Leftover achiote paste can be saved in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • If the marinade seems too thick, you can thin it out with chicken broth or water.
  • When grilling the chicken, avoid overcrowding the grill, as this can lead to uneven cooking.
  • Allow the cooked chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before carving to let the juices to redistribute for a more tender result.

What To Serve With

  • Mexican Rice: A classic accompaniment, Mexican rice (arroz rojo) flavored with tomatoes, onions, and garlic complements the spices in the chicken.
  • Refried Beans: Whether black or pinto beans, refried beans add richness and protein to the meal. They are traditionally seasoned with garlic, onion, and sometimes a hint of chili.
  • Guacamole: Creamy and cooling, guacamole made with ripe avocados, lime juice, cilantro, and diced tomatoes provides a refreshing contrast to the spicy chicken.
  • Corn Or Flour Tortillas: Soft, warm tortillas are perfect for wrapping pieces of chicken achiote with your choice of toppings. They can also be used to create tacos or burritos.
  • Salsa: A fresh salsa or pico de gallo made with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice adds brightness and acidity to balance the chicken achiote dish.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Serve a side of grilled vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and onions. The smokiness from the grill complements the flavors of the chicken achiote dish.
  • Mexican Street Corn (Elote): Grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, and chili powder makes for a delicious and slightly spicy side dish.
  • Cabbage Slaw: A crunchy cabbage slaw with a tangy dressing of lime juice, vinegar, and a touch of honey or sugar adds texture and freshness to the plate.
  • Tostones Or Plantains: Fried plantains or tostones (fried green plantain slices) offer a sweet and starchy contrast to the spicy chicken achiote.
  • Mexican Crema Or Sour Cream: To cool down the heat from the chicken, a dollop of Mexican crema or sour cream can be served on the side.
  • Cilantro-Lime Rice: Similar to Mexican rice but with a stronger cilantro and lime flavor, this rice variation adds a refreshing citrus note to the meal.
  • Fresh Salad: A simple green salad with avocado slices, cherry tomatoes, and a light vinaigrette is also an excellent pair with the chicken achiote dish.

Health Benefits

  • Rich In Protein: Chicken is a lean source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair and overall cellular function.
  • Source Of Essential Nutrients: Chicken provides essential nutrients such as B vitamins (particularly niacin and B6), which are necessary for metabolism, immune function, and nervous system health.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Achiote, or annatto, contains antioxidants such as tocotrienols and tocopherols, which help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. These antioxidants can add to the overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Some researchers suggest that compounds found in achiote, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, may have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation reduction is associated with a lower risk of various chronic diseases.
  • Digestive Health: Many traditional spices used in achiote paste, such as garlic and herbs, can support digestive health. For example, garlic has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and may promote a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Heart Health: Certain components in achiote, like vitamin E and other antioxidants, can support cardiovascular health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which contributes to heart disease.
  • Potential Antimicrobial Benefits: Garlic, often included in achiote seasoning, has been studied for its antimicrobial properties, which may help fight off bacterial infections.
  • Weight Management: Chicken is a lean protein source that can aid in weight management by promoting satiety and supporting muscle mass maintenance, which helps burn calories efficiently.

Final Thoughts

Chicken achiote is a culinary adventure for your taste buds. The vibrant marinade adds a unique depth of flavor, while the customizable options allow you to tailor the dish to your preferences. Chicken achiote offers endless possibilities, whether you crave a smoky, citrusy, or fiery kick. So, ditch the ordinary and delve into this colorful and flavorful dish. With its easy preparation and impressive results, achiote chicken will become a new favorite in your kitchen repertoire.

More Chicken Recipes:

Chicken Achiote

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time: Nutrition facts: 270 calories 6 grams fat

Ingredients

For The Achiote Paste (Makes extra for future use):

  • 2 tablespoons achiote seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (white or red wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste

For The Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs), or bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • Additional marinade ingredients (see variations below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for grilling)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Make The Achiote Paste:

  1. Over medium heat in a dry skillet, fry the achiote seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns for about 15 seconds, until fragrant. Watch closely to avoid burning.
  2. Move the fried spices to a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.
  3. In a frypan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or until softened.
  4. Add the ground spices and cook for extra 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the water, vinegar, and oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  7. Using a blender or immersion blender, pure the mixture until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Marinate The Chicken:

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the achiote paste. Use your hands (wearing gloves to avoid staining) to massage the paste evenly over the chicken.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, ideally overnight, for maximum flavor.

Variations:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or orange juice to the marinade for a citrusy twist.
  2. For a smoky touch, Add 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to the marinade. (Adjust according to your spice preference.)
  3. For extra spiciness, Add a few dashes of hot sauce or a finely chopped Fresno chili pepper to the marinade.

Cooking The Chicken:

  1. You can bake, grill, or pan-fry the marinated chicken. Here are instructions for each method:
  2. Baking: The oven should be preheated to 400°F (200°C). Arrange the pieces of chicken on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes for a whole chicken and 30-40 minutes for bone-in pieces, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part. Baste the chicken occasionally with pan drippings for extra flavor.
  3. Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Rub olive oil on the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  4. Pan-frying: Heat up olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.

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