A is for Annatto

November 6, 2010

Josie and I have been doing a recipe correspondence a la alphabet exchange style. We thought it would be an interesting way to explore more in the culinary world especially in terms of exotic ingredients. Also, just in case we can’t find an ingredient that works for a letter, it could also be a recipe. I’m just glad I don’t have letters “X” and “Z”, good luck with those Josie.

Obviously, since I am writing this, I decided to pick the first ingredient. For the amazing letter “A” I decided to pick Annatto. It was really intriguing to me as it is more of a coloring than a flavoring. I’m a sucker for natural colors when it comes to art or food. Anyways, getting back to annatto…

They kinda look like triangular pieces of dehydrated strawberries that come from this crazy spikey venus fly-trap looking plant. Browsing around trying to find ways of using this amazing red seed. I found an amazing recipe on Epicurious for Andean Potato Stew.

I ended up tweaking it a bit though. Here were my additions:

-I traded out the whole milk for soy milk

-I also topped my stew with fresh tortilla strips

-I love love love queso fresco and may have been a little more generous with it <(>.>)>

I need a real camera...this was taken with my iPhone

Andean Potato Stew

  • 2 teaspoons annatto seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 lb russet potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 5 1/2 oz queso fresco, plus extra to top
  • 2 medium firm-ripe avocados
  • Crispy tortilla strips

Heat annatto seeds and oil in a very small saucepan over low heat, swirling pan frequently, until oil is bright red-orange and starts to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.

Pour annatto oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide 7- to 8-quart heavy pot, discarding solids. Cook onion and half of potatoes (reserve remaining potatoes in a bowl of cold water) in annatto oil over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add water (7 cups) and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes, then mash into broth. Drain remaining potatoes and add to stew, then simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in milk and cheese and increase heat to high, then bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, quarter avocados lengthwise, then pit, peel, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Serve stew in large soup bowls, topped with avocado, queso fresco, and tortilla strips.

Enjoy the creamy rich golden goodness. NOM!

~Erik <(^_^)>


One comment

  1. Not to worry…I already have a plan for both X and Z!

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