I have an ongoing obsession with achiote paste, which is a seasoning mix made and extracted from the annatto seed.
It is used extensively in Central American and some Asian dishes. I developed my recipe for achiote paste based on the paste used to season Nicaraguan dishes. I've noticed the actual achiote paste starting to populate the shelves of some mainstream supermarkets in the Hispanic foods section, so you may even be able to buy it off the shelf. Personally, I prefer either making it myself or going to my local Nicaraguan "mercadito" (market) and buying it there.
Aside from the beautiful red color it imparts on foods, it adds a deep rich, earthly flavor to proteins (yes even tofu!). I find this is especially true on grilled meats such as chicken, pork, beef even seafood.
But I wanted to take it indoor and use it in a sauté for a quick dinner. And the results were simply put deeeeelicious! The Hub had seconds and took leftovers to work the next day.
- 1 pound sliced chicken breast** - 2" strips (like you'd use in a stir-fry)
- 2 tablespoons canola or nut oil of choice
- 1 tablespoon Achiote Paste
- Juice and zest of a small lemon
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 mini sweet peppers or one medium red or orange pepper
- 1/2 head of cauliflower broken down into florets
- After brining** your chicken (optional), place all the ingredients except oil and onion in a zip bag and allow to marinate 8 hours or best overnight. Take out of the fridge, Remove chicken pieces from marinade shaking off excess liquids as you remove. Set marinade aside, do not discard it. Blot chicken on paper towels and allow to come to room temperature.
- Heat large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil.
- Add 1/2 the chicken pieces - do not over crowd pan - brown chicken lightly. Remove and place on plate while you cook the remaining pieces in remaining tablespoon of oil.
- Lower heat to medium and add onions and peppers to pan. Saute for 3 - 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.
- Add cauliflower and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
- Place all the chicken back into the pan and stir to blend with cauliflower.
- Add reserved marinade liquid and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil for 1 minute.
- Lower heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes or till chicken is cooked through.
Serve with fluffy white rice, sweet plantains and an ice cold beer. Enjoy!
**Recipe Notes: You can find brining instructions here or you can skip the brine step altogether. I just have a habit of brining chicken when I use breast meat. It really helps keep it juicy.