Enough sewing! Let’s eat!

I love slow cookers. Honestly, I would happily use it every day – except I do like a salad every now and then. But, seriously, slow cookers, or crock pots, are such a fantastic appliance. Whack all your ingredients in the crock pot of a morning, and WHAM! get home to a dinner ready and waiting. It’s pretty hard to over-cook anything too, the only danger is not putting enough liquid in the pot.

Now, I’m an experimenter. If I had a head for science I would probably be in a lab coat somewhere cackling madly, surrounded by foaming green test tubes and worried assistants.

Luckily, I was useless at chemistry at school, so world domination can be safely left to those with a better grasp of the table of elements.

My point is, I can never just follow a recipe. And I’m obsessed with cobbling together six other recipes to see what might happen. I’m pleased to report that the disaster statistics are actually pretty favourable.

So last year I was in central America. At a restaurant in Playa del Carmen, I tried a dish called Mayan Achiote Chicken. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was amazing. So I made sure I bought one of the little bricks of achiote paste at the souvenier store. I forgot to look at the ingredients panel at the time, and was a little worried by all the things listed as numbers rather than actual food items. Erk. Oh well. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

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Then I set out to do a little online research into achiote chicken recipes. It appears it’s usually barbecued or roasted, but I was determined to do it in the slow cooker (I’m time-poor, okay?) So I came up with a recipe that seemed like it would produce something a little bit like the meal I had in Mexico.

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SLOW COOKER ACHIOTE CHICKEN

  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1.5lb or 700g), cut into 2″ chunks
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • stock or water
  • 1 tsp castor sugar
  • 1/2 block achiote paste (about 55g)
  • 1 green capsicum, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 potatoes, chopped into large chunks
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Put the meat & vegetables in the slow cooker. In a jug, mix the achiote paste with the juice & herbs until smooth. Pour the liquid into the cooker, and add a little stock or water so the meat & vegetables are almost covered. Put the lid on, turn the cooker onto ‘Low’ and leave it be for about 8 hours. (Or, on high for about 4 hours.)

I served this with some green beans on the side. In hindsight it would have gone well with some rice, but I wanted a one-pot meal, plus there were plenty of carbs in the potatoes already. Also, I think it would have worked better with chicken thighs than breasts. I used a small crockpot for this recipe too, so if your crockpot is a big one you may need to double the recipe. It made enough to serve four, or more if you served extra veggies on the side.

The flavour of this was pretty different to the one I had in Mexico, but I still really liked it. The citrus really lent itself to the mild spiciness of the achiote. I’ll probably try this again with a couple of the variations I’ve mentioned. After all, I’ve got half a brick of achiote paste left to use!

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