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achiote paste

I have been eating out about once a week lately which is not very like me.  Part of it is Monday is an errand day for me.  Part of it has been business.  Part of it is trying "the best" tacos in town.  Most of the reviews are what are called around here "yuppie" tacos.  I have learned my favorite tacos are normally authentic to the Mexican culture.  It can be tweaked a tad but true to a Mexican heritage.  It also did not help that there is a new restaurant around the corner that has good tacos but yuppie prices.  Nothing cutting edge, just tasty.  Price was ouchy.

I like Tacos al Pastor.  They are usually made with pork which I can react to so it would be better if they were made with beef for me.  Or grass fed pasture raised hog.  Having inflammatory conditions make you more sensitive.

I did the research and realized that I was going to have to make the things to make the things.  Sounds about like the rest of my life and choices.  I needed achiote paste.  Other then collecting all the ingredients, it was quite easy.  I followed the Bon Appetit recipe quite closely.  I did use homemade vinegar instead of white distilled.  There is a fruitiness to it.  I also have the tendency to blend everything much longer then recipes call for.  I find it does make a difference.  Usually in a positive fashion.

I am also going to say that I am always surprised how the same spices are used across different cultures.  The spices in this Mexican dish are very similar to the spices used in my Swedish and Norwegian recipes.  Just different amounts.

achiote paste

3 whole cloves 

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup ground annatto seeds (I could not find whole which is what the recipe calls for)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons dried Mexican or Italian oregano

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coarse salt, I used Himalayan

4 garlic cloves

1/4 homemade vinegar (or distilled white vinegar)

zest of one lime

zest of one orange

In a blender (I have a small attachment to my immersion blender which worked very well), put all the ingredients up to the garlic cloves.  Blend on a high speed until finely ground.

Add the garlic cloves, one at a time, and blend after each.

Add the vinegar and blend.

Add in the citrus zest and blend.

This makes a very thick paste.  Not all of it is needed to make Tacos al Pastor so put it in a jar and store it in the refrigerator.  

I am actually making tacos al pastor again today.  There have been three meals of it so far this week.  But I have not had to use anymore of this paste.  It goes a long way.  It has a savory meaty flavor.  It would probably be very good added to other things but I have not tried.

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