|Achiote seeds in their pods. Image borrowed from Amazon Ecology|
Achiote seeds have been described as peppery, sweet and with a hint of nutmeg. The most distinctive quality of the achiote seems to be the yellow colour, which can also be derived from:
Being cost conscious meant that I immediately crossed saffron off the list, particularly as it's my first time attempting the Achiote sauce. So I stuck with both paprika (sweet and smoked meant it would add more BBQ styled 'oomph' to the pork and closer resemble the sweetness found in achiote) and turmeric for that distinct yellow colour.
You can play around with the quantities based on the size of the cut of meat, and how much sauce you want left over in the pan. The below yielded approximately two cups of marinade and after cooking, just enough sauce (approximately 3 tablespoons) to smear on the pork.
1.7kg pork shoulder (bone out, and if preferred, tied)
- ACHIOTE SAUCE: Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the wet ingredients.
- MARINATE OVERNIGHT 8-12HRS: Place the pork in a deep and wide enough bowl and poor the achiote sauce over it, making sure it gets underneath and around all the sides. Tightly wrap the bowl with plastic cling-wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- SLOW COOK FOR 6HRS: Preheat oven to 100-120 degrees Celsius. Place plenty of foil in a deep tray, allowing enough length to go up the sides and contain the meat and the achiote sauce (like a parcel) without leakage. Put the meat in the tray and poor over the achiote sauce leftover from the marinading bowl. Scatter the onions over the pork. Fold over the foil to create an almost airtight parcel and bang the tray in the lowest rack (or floor) of your oven. Cook that bad boy low and slow for 6 hours, or even longer*.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Make sure to smear that sweet Achiote sauce (now thickened with the cooking) over the pork. You won't even have to shred the pork or use a knife, it will fall apart with the pull of a fork. Serve with warm tortillas, freshly cut salad (e.g. corn, tomato, lettuce, avocado), fresh chilli, fresh lime and your choice of pickles.