When Jason and I backpacked through Mexico last December, one of his favorite things was the taco carts. Specifically, the al pastor.
Al pastor is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie with a pineapple on top. We asked locals and searched for the best al pastor spots – our first night we had a cab take us across town for the best we knew of – and bought the cab driver dinner there so he would take us back to our hotel.
I learned achiote is one of the flavors used with al pastor. Achiote is a small tree or shrub and the seeds of the flowers are made into a paste (block) or annatto powder. I bought both and have been playing with the flavors.
Until we can get back to Mexico, which we both hope is soon, we are enjoying the achiote flavors here at home. This chili was Halloween dinner, and since we are still on vacation this week, brunch the next day.
spicy achiote two bean chili
dairy, soy, and gluten free, vegan
makes a large pot of chili
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter (Earth Balance soy free) or olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1/3 block achiote paste
4 large tomatoes, chopped
4 cups pinto beans, cooked (or 2 cans)
2 cups kidney beans, cooked (or 1 can)
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
In large pot over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, and peppers with butter / olive oil until softened. Add achiote paste, tomatoes, beans, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin (adjusting spice amounts to taste). Reduce heat to low, simmer at least one hour, stirring frequently.
Serve with (dairy free) yogurt, cheese cubes, green onions, crackers.
…or pair it with a tofu scramble:
Do you have favorite flavors from vacations? Have you tried to recreate or cook with those flavors at home?