You may be aware that I am a huge fan of anything chilli. I love it in any shape or form and can be found using it in (nearly) all that I cook. Sadly, my three children have not yet developed a taste for anything that includes heat and are even wary of black pepper so Mr. Scott and I will always eat later on in the evening in order to enjoy our spicy food.
Then last week I received an email from Ben at The Capsicana Chilli Co. asking me if I would like to try out some of his products. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and got sent a whole range of goodies that I will be sampling over the next few weeks as well as creating dishes in which to use these beautiful, exotic dried chillies from Mexico.
First up, is a recipe using Annatto powder, Achiote in Mexico. I had heard of it before, but thought of it as a food colouring. Well, yes it is used for it’s vibrant colour but also it has a taste that is quite unique and adds sweet peppery notes that worked very well in the rich and meaty braised pork belly dish I cooked.
Luckily, in my 5 year olds class there is a girl with a Mexican mother, Lorenna. So I asked her what she would use annatto powder for and she talked me through a recipe I then went on to make. I have tried to follow her guidelines by using all the ingredients she listed . Obviously, for measurements, I just used my judgement and managed to create a dish that is something that is a revelation to me. Thanks Lorenna!
Rich yet with a citussy fragrance and a hint of acidity from the Cider vinegar. I love discovering new dishes and this one was a hit. The only thing I would add is some fresh coriander. It would raise it up another level I think.
Mexican Pork Belly with Annatto
Ingredients :- Serves 2
1x 500g packet outdoor reared pork belly slices (M & S for this recipe) trimmed of excess fat and cut into chunks
2 large onions sliced finely
1 tbsp fresh Thyme finely chopped
1 tbsp Annatto powder
1 carton of M & S orange juice (lunchbox sized around 300 ml)
250ml Cider vinegar (I used Aspall organic which is good)
Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees.
Fry off the pork belly in a pan with a little olive oil until it is golden brown .
Transfer the pork to an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid.
In the same frying pan cook the onions until they have softened slightly (5mins)
Add the Annatto powder and the thyme and fry for another minute then add in the Cider vinegar. Cook for 2 minutes.
Transfer to the casserole dish then season before adding the orange juice.
Cook in the oven (with lid on) for at least 2 hours but I left it in for nearer 4 and turned the heat down to about 120 for the last 2 hours.
Serving suggestions :-
I cooked some sticky Jasmine rice to go with this because I just love it but any rice would be good with it, even brown! It is incredibly rich but the acid of the juice and the vinegar balance out the flavours perfectly.
I served a chopped salsa on the side using tomatoes and peppers which i would recommend adding lots of fresh coriander to. As the Annatto is not at all spicy, I would also add some chopped fresh chillies to the salsa or some of the Habanero chilli flakes that I also got sent. If you like Encona chilli sauce, you will LOVE LOVE LOVE these too!