Achiote Grilled Chicken Thighs

We were introduced to achiote via chef Daisy Martinez‘s cooking show, Daisy Cooks!. Achiote (also called annatto) seeds provide an earthy flavor. One of the more common ways to use them is to make a flavored oil that will impart a yellow-orange color to the dishes it is used in (think yellow rice).

Achiote Grilled Chicken Thighs
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp. achiote (annatto) seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp. fine salt
  • 5 lemons, juiced
  • 4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions:

  1. Combine the annatto, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves and allspice berries in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder.
  2. In a blender jar combine the spice blend you just ground with all the other ingredients except the lemon and chicken. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the lemon juice; pulse to combine. This is your marinade. Set aside.
  4. Trim the excess fat off of your chicken thighs. Transfer thighs to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  5. About 45 minutes before you want to eat light your gas grill, setting all burners on high and close the lid. Allow to heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Scrape any residue from past grilling off the grill and lubricate with 4 or 5 passes of vegetable oil on a paper towel.
  7. Place chicken thighs on the grill, skin(less) side down. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove when the internal temperature of a thigh is 160°F. An instant read thermometer is very helpful here.
  9. Serve as is or cut into pieces to use for chicken tacos.

Notes:
Throw out the marinade after putting the chicken on the grill. It’s tainted with raw chicken nastiness.

If the marinade is a bit grainy you can brush off the excess spice mix before grilling. We didn’t bother and it didn’t affect the results as best we can tell.

I found achiote (annatto) seeds in my grocery store in the baking aisle along with the other spices. We’ve also purchased them in the past from Penzeys.

I combined the ideas from a couple of online recipes to come up with this one. Check out this one or this one for inspiration.

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