I really enjoy sussing out flavours.
Picking up on ingredients in dishes when I’m out and about and storing them in their various combinations in my head for when I’m in my kitchen at home. But there are times when try as I might, I haven’t the foggiest what the flavours are that I’m tasting — like the first time I ate the Mexican pibil.
The flavours in that delicious shredded pork stew boggled my mind, my tongue was being introduced to some brand new tastes and I couldn't identify them if you'd paid me. I got home and made my way straight to google to find out what I’d been scoffing, and souschef.co.uk to buy the raw ingredients. I’d been bitten by the authentic Mexican bug.
Even though getting hold of the ingredients for this chickeny adaptation might require an online shop (unless you live near a world or Mexican food market) the cooking of this stew couldn’t be easier, and your tastebuds will thank you for it. It’s rich and smokey and has warm spice and herbaceous flavours that speak of faraway places, the sort that make me grateful and excited that there are foods out there I’m still to try, flavours I’m yet to experience, and places I’m yet to go.
- 3 tsp achiote paste — I followed Diana Kennedy’s recipe for it, or you can buy it ready made online
- 3 tsp Mexican oregano
- 200g black turtle beans, soaked in cold water overnight
- Meat from 4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks, roasted, cooled and meat removed
- 1 tsp dried epazote
- 1 finely chopped red onion
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 level tsp chipotle chillies — I used crumbled dried ones
- 400g chopped tinned tomatoes or passata
- 400ml light chicken stock
- Juice of 1 juicy lime
- Oil for frying
- Guacamole, sour cream, fresh coriander and grated cheese to serve
- Rinse the soaked beans in cold water and put in a saucepan covered with about 5 x the volume of cold water. Bring to the boil and let them cook for 5 minutes, then add the epazote and turn them down to simmer, put a lid on and cook them for around 90 minutes — checking occasionally so they don’t cook dry.
- Once ready, rinse and set aside.
- In a saucepan with a lid in a little oil fry the onion until softened, then add the achiote paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add the beans, tomatoes, stock, chipotle, ground coriander and cumin, and mexican oregano, bring to a rapid simmer and then reduce the heat and leave for 15 minutes to bubble away, lid off.
- Next, add the chicken and lime juice and taste to check the seasoning — adding more achiote, chillies or salt as you feel is needed.
- Leave it to cook for another 10 minutes until the chicken is heated through and the sauce has reduced a little more.