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One of my favorite foods that reminds me of summer time are skewers, kabobs or alambritos. Whether they are beef, shrimp, veggie or chicken, it's fun to present food on a stick! There is just something about it that people love. Annatto, also known as achiote is used in preparing many Latin American dishes. Two of the most popular in the Mexican cuisine are "tacos al pastor" and "cochinita pibil". It adds a subtle and earthy flavor, but adds the most vibrant red color that really makes a statement. Annatto comes in many forms. It comes in seeds, paste and in a powder form. I have worked with all three, but I would have to say that the paste form is my favorite and easiest to work with.
For Firecracker Chicken
3 large boneless chicken breast
1 ounce annatto paste
3 chipotles in adobo
2 dried chile de arbol, crushed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or ½ tablespoon dried)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 large orange
1/4 cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
10 ten-inch wooden skewers
For Chayote Skewers
1 large chayote
1 large Poblano pepper
1 large orange sweet pepper
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
Salt and pepper
5 ten-inch wooden skewers
1. To make the firecracker chicken marinade, combine all of the ingredients listed in the blender, blend until smooth, taste for salt and set aside.
2. Butterfly the chicken breast, then cut them into long half-inch-wide strips. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover with marinade, stir well to combine, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
3. While you wait, slice the peppers and chayote so they are all uniform in size. Transfer to a bowl, add chile powder, salt, pepper and olive oil, stir well until evenly covered. Cover and keep chilled for 1 hour.
4. Soak the wooden skewers 30 minutes before using, so they do not burn on the grill. At this time, preheat your stove top grill pan to low/medium heat. I like to line mine with easy release foil paper and brush with oil.
5. Skewer the chicken pieces first, do not overcrowd them, about 3 strips per skewer. You want to skewer like a ribbon, in and out. You should have enough for about 10 skewers. Prepare veggie skewers in any variation that you like, makes about 5 skewers.
6. Turn the heat up on the grill pan to slightly above medium heat. Cook your chicken skewers first, as they will take a little longer than the veggie skewers. For chicken, about 6 minutes on each side, turn as needed. Cook the veggie skewers for a few minutes on each side, until you start to get some grill marks. You may need to add a little more oil to grill pan as the skewers cook. Yields 5 servings, serve with your favorite rice dish.
Other recipes by Sonia:
Mexican Red Rice
Tacos al Pastor
Cheesy Chorizo Bread
Flank Steak Tacos
Frijoles Borrachos con Chorizo
Buffalo Chicken Flautas
Chile Garlic Shrimp Kabobs
Chicken Enchilada Soup with Chayotes
Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Chip Chimichangas
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