Achiote paste is a brick-hued tiny cube of Play-doh strength Mexican flavor. Available at most markets – and Latin shops for sure – it’s about the size of six bouillon cubes and renders chicken and some hearty fishes with earthy, semi-spicy tomato-y goodness.
The stark contrast between its formal Mexican flavor and the sweetness of the tangerine sauce here makes a perfect mid-week poultry pick-me-up to bland breasts. Oh and marinater beware – wear an old shirt and even an apron because this blood-red paste will permanently stain any cloth on contact.
Makes 4 servings
2 T achiote paste
1 T honey
1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 t cumin
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into about 8 evenly sized pieces (so they all cook the same)
1 C fresh tangerine juice (Valencia orange can be substituted)
Handful chopped fresh cilantro
Combine all elements of the marinade in a small food processor and blend until a malleable paste forms. (Add a little more vinegar or a dash of water if it needs additional moisture.) Place the chicken in a Tupperware and spread the marinade evenly all over the chicken breast mini-steaks. Let stand refrigerated for a couple hours. Turn every now and again.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in nonstick skillet large enough to accommodate all the chicken at once. Sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper and brown in oil turning once – about 2 minutes per side.
Add ½ C of juice to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn once halfway through.
When done, transfer chicken to a plate and keep warm with foil or set in a microwave. (not on, of course.) Add the rest of the tangerine juice to the pan and cook on medium-high uncovered until sauce thickens – about 4 minutes.
Serve chicken over fluffy, white rice and spoon sauce over breasts and rice. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Chopped Mexican squash (about 3) makes a nice side dish, when diced and tossed with olive oil, pepper, chicken seasoning and garlic powder. Then bake in a single layer on a foil-lined rake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes until soft. Ole!