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Chicken thighs cooked in orange, lime, and achiote paste and served in warm corn tortillas topped with sautéed pineapple, pickled onion, and avocado slices.

As some of you know, my diet has radically changed in the past three years. I have been managing and maintaining my good health with lifestyle changes, and a huge part of that has been cutting out high-stress foods such as red meat, dairy, sugar, white rice, white flour products, processed foods, and fried foods. Coffee and alcohol are also supposed to be on that list, and while I haven’t cut them out entirely I have limited them to once in a while (this is a diet I am trying to maintain for the rest of my life, and it’s my way of making this diet sustainable forever). So far so good, as I am no longer on medication and have been symptom-free for the past couple of years. Knock on wood!

Rather than feeling sorry for myself about the foods I can no longer eat, I have been enjoying the challenge of making sure that I am still cooking food I am excited about. So while the dishes featured in my blog will remain fairly indulgent, anyone looking closely may notice that everything posted from here forward is pretty healthy as well. My new goal is to find and feature foods that are so yummy, even those who aren’t trying to eat in a healthier way won’t miss anything. Wish me luck 😉

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For this post, I want to share a recipe that was inspired by something my brother cooked for me, which in turn was inspired by something someone else cooked for him. My brother is a professional musician, and he plays in a music festival in Mexico every year. The woman who prepares the food at the festival is apparently a wonderful cook who has shared some of her secrets with him. My brother got the recipe for this dish from her, adapted it for my diet, and cooked it for me the last time I visited. It was so tasty I was still craving it when I arrived home, so I adapted a version of my own. And while this might well be characterized a broken telephone of dishes, it is a keeper.

Along with the surprisingly tangy and tasty chicken filling and the unexpected sweetness of the pineapple, the pink pickled onions are also one of the big stars in these tacos. I like to make a big batch for this dish, then use them to elevate all manner of other dishes all week. They are surprisingly adaptable, and work especially well in salads, stews, and any dish involving eggs. One of my favourite uses for them is making moros y christianos (in my version the black beans are cooked with brown rice) topped with fried eggs, avocado, and pico de gallo, and topping it all with these pink beauties. We all love having breakfast for dinner at our house, and these make it even more exciting.

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PICKLED ONIONS
1. Heat 3/4 cups rice wine vinegar, 3/4 cups water, the juice of one lime, 1 t pink salt, and a dash of maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Slice 2 small red onions, a jalapeño, and 1-2 cloves of garlic and mix together in a heat-proof bowl (I use a glass tupperware or mason jar so that I can put a lid on it and put it in the fridge to keep once it cools down).
3. As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, pour it over the veggies and let it sit for at least an hour. I usually make this part farther in advance, so the veggies have more time to pickle, but this is not necessary if you are in a hurry.

PINEAPPLE
1. Cut a pineapple into small triangular slices and mix with 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil, 3-5 T coconut sugar (depending on the sweetness of the pineapple), and cinnamon to taste.
2. Sautée the pineapple over med-low heat throughout the time it takes to cook the chicken, stirring occasionally.

CHICKEN
1. In a large bowl, mix the juice of 2 oranges, one lime, and 3 T achiote paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until the paste is completely dissolved (the achiote paste can be quite hard, so you may need to break it down with the spoon).
2. Add one small chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 t Mexican oregano, and 1 T Herbamare to the mixture. Mix well.
3. Pour into a Dutch oven along with 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, and stir until the chicken is completely coated on all sides.
4. Turn the head on to medium with the lid on, When the mixture begins to boil, turn it down to low and cook for another 40 minutes with the lid on, stirring it occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and starting to come apart and/or stick to the bottom of your pot.
5. Take the lid off of the Dutch oven and cook for an additional ten minutes, shredding the chicken with a couple of forks.
6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

To serve, fill warm wheat-free corn tortillas with shredded achiote chicken. Top with pineapple, picked onions, avocado slices, fresh cilantro, and more fresh lime.

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2 thoughts on “RECIPE // Achiote Chicken Tacos

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