Achiote Spatchcock with Jalapeño Pesto, Spelt Tortillas, and a Chargrilled Corn and Mango Salad


I’ve been meaning to try out the Annatto Seeds used in the Achiote paste since they were given to me by a good friend for my birthday in August.

Annatto seeds come from the Achiote tree that grow in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. They are used for colouring food, similar to saffron, but also have a slight peppery, sweet and nutty flavour. Annatto is most commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines, mainly to make the Achiote paste used to marinate chicken. Natives would also use the seeds to make body paint and lipstick. Because of this the tree is sometimes referred to as the ‘Lipstick Tree’.

So, there’s a little info for you. Thanks wikipedia.

I made the Achiote paste by taking bits and pieces from a few different recipes on the internet. It would have been delicious as it was, used to marinate chicken or even pork, but I also wanted to use a few different types of chillies I’ve had in the cupboard for a while. Chipotle (which I’ve used quite a few times before) but also Mulato and Pasilla which I’ve never tried. They all have lovely deep but subtle differences and you can’t really go wrong by mixing them all together with the Achiote spices and some citrus. Really aromatic and delicious.

I have found a new appreciation for spatchcock in the last year. The flavour is surprisingly different to chicken and the texture is superior! So moist and luscious. Some might argue that they are too fiddly but trust me it is definitely worth it. And by butterflying and marinating them the flavours are able to penetrate right through the meat, resulting in soft, subtly flavoured meat close to the bone and a lovely  salty, crunchy skin.

I couldn’t make these spatchcocks without a few delicious things to go with it. I love eating like this. Every mouthful can be different and interesting. So much fun to share!


The jalapeño pesto is really different, a good kick from the jalapeños and coriander with a lovely creaminess form the pine nuts.

The tortillas are delicious and so easy to make, the dough was beautiful to work with and the spelt flour gave them a lovely flavour. I decided o make wheat tortillas instead of corn because I simply find them more delicious! I also love watching them puff up as they are in the frying pan. I haven’t included the recipe here but it’s from Maricel E. Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina. An amazing Latin American cookbook. I just replaced the wholemeal flour with spelt.

The chargrilled corn and mango salad is refreshing and vibrant with the mixture of textures from the crunchy grilled corn, the soft sweet mango, the buttery beans and a good kick from  the fresh chilli, not to mention the dressing! It could be a meal on it’s own and would also go well with spiced fish.

Now that I’m writing this all down I am excited to see how many different types of chillies have gone into one meal! Ah, how I love chillies.


DSC_0330 DSC_0344 DSC_0378DSC_0419 DSC_0425DSC_0439 DSC_0443


Achiote Spatchcock 

2 tsp annatto seeds

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp peppercorns

2 tsp allspice

2 tsp rock salt

4 tbsp water

4 cloves garlic

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 each dried pasilla and mulato chillies, re-hydrated in hot water, stalks and seeds removed

2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce with 1 tbsp of paste

1 tbsp sliced jalapeños

juice of 1 orange

juice of 2 limes

4 spatchcocks, butterflied

Crush dried spices in mortar and pestle.

Combine with rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Rub half the marinade all over the chicken and leave to marinate for 24 hours. (leftover marinade can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for a month or so).

To cook spatchcocks, use the grill element in the oven or a bbq. Cook for 10mins or so on the underside, turn, season the skin with a little extra salt and cook for around another 5 to 10 mins, or until cooked through and skin is nice and crispy. Rest, covered with foil, for 5 mins.

Serve with jalapeño pesto, corn and mango salad, tortillas and sour cream.

Jalapeño Pesto

1 1/2 cups coriander leaves and stalks

5 tbsp sliced jalapeños

1-2 cloves garlic

3 tbsp toasted pune nuts

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

Combine dry ingredients in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add wet ingredients and pulse until just combined so as not to make a puree.

Chargrilled Corn and Mango salad

2 cans butter beans drined and rinsed

4 cobs corn, cooked on a grill until blackened in places and tender and kernels removed

4 long red chillies, finely sliced

2 mangoes diced

1 bunch coriander

1 red capsicum, finely diced

2 baby cos lettuce


4 cloves garlic

1 tsp each rock salt and peppercorns

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 lime

4 shallots finely chopped

1/4cup olive oil

For dressing, crush garlic with salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle.

Combine with remaining ingredients and check for seasoning.

Spread baby cos lettuce leaves on a platter. Combine other ingredients, reserving half the chilli and coriander, in a large bowl with dressing and gently mix to combine.

Spoon over the cos lettuce and top with reserved chilli and coriander.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s