Continuing with emblematic food from the Yucatan peninsula as in my previous post, achiote (annatto) is a traditional flavouring for many dishes from that region. In addition to cochinita pibil (pork), tikinxic (fish) and pibipollo (large chicken tamale), chicken is also dressed in annatto sauce, traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and cooked slowly in an underground oven (pib), aptly called pollo pibil. In the state of Yucatan, it is a very simple preparation of chicken thighs or legs, marinated in recado rojo (annatto sauce); in the neighbouring state of Campeche, it is not unusual to top the chicken with onions and tomatoes before cooking. Modern versions of this dish are prepared on the stove, or as in this case, without the banana leaves, in a slow cooker; I also added some carrots and potatoes to make it a balanced one-dish meal. Of course, all versions include a spicy Habanero and red onion condiment.
Slow Cooker Chicken in Annatto Sauce – Pollo pibil en olla de cocción lenta
6-8 pieces chicken; bone-in, skin-on
1 block annatto seasoning (condimento de achiote), OR 1 batch recado rojo (printable recipe above)
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp sour orange juice, OR mix:
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp white vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp lime juice
3 potatoes; washed, peeled, and cubed
1 large carrot; washed, peeled, and sliced
2 tomatoes; washed and sliced (optional)
½ white onion; peeled and sliced (optional)
½ red onion; peeled, and sliced thinly
2-3 Habanero peppers; washed
Salt, or to taste
½ cup water
Prepare Habanero and red onion condiment: It is better to handle peppers with gloves; slice peppers lengthwise, then remove stems and seeds (photo below, left). Slice very thinly and place, along with the red onions, in a non-reactive bowl or bottle; add salt to taste, and a quarter of a cup of sour orange juice (or vinegar/juice mix, photo right):
Mix and allow to rest until serving time. It may be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for up to one week.
Use one block (3 oz. – 100g) of already-prepared annatto seasoning (achiote preparado), or make a batch with my recipe, starting with annatto powder, such as Mamasita’s™:
Place annatto seasoning in a non-reactive tray, such as glass; gradually add the rest of the sour orange juice (or vinegar/juice mix), and stir to dissolve (photo below, left). Arrange the chicken pieces (I used breasts) in the tray, coating with sauce (photo below, right):
Allow to marinate for at least twenty minutes, and up to overnight in the fridge. When ready to cook, arrange potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the slow cooker (photo below, left). Arrange chicken on top (photo below, right:
Pour the marinade on top; add water to the tray to rinse any leftover marinade, and add to the slow cooker (photo below, left). If using, for Campeche style, arrange sliced tomatoes and onions on top (photo below, right, or omit, for Yucatan style):
Cover slow cooker with lid, and set on low for 6-8 hours, or 4-5 hours on high.
The result is a juicy, saucy, and very flavourful chicken:
Serve chicken with a side of the potatoes and carrots from the bottom of the cooker, and warm corn tortillas and spicy condiment at the table:
This dish might look spicy, but on the contrary, the flavour is very mild as long as the Habanero condiment is kept on the side. The tangy notes from the citrus juice, and the slow cooking method, combine with the annatto seasoning and juices from the tender chicken, to create a delicious and rich sauce.
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I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #547, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.