Wednesday, July 4, 2012

recipe: achiote chicken skewers with guava sauce

To help work my way through Chef School at George Brown, I assisted cooking classes at various schools in Toronto, including many classes featuring Chef Pam McDonald.  A particularly memorable class that I thoroughly enjoyed was called “Menu from Mexico” – it received rave reviews.  Pam started the evening by teaching the class how to make a squash and chestnut soup with chipotle cream.  The main course followed, which consisted of achiote chicken skewers with guava sauce & a green salad with fried tortilla strips, diced watermelon and queso fresco.  The students were literally licking their dessert plates – as the crepes with bananas, cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) and ice cream was a big winner that evening.

I love preparing (and eating) theme-based menus such as this one.  With a three month old baby and a busy four year old at home, there is no chance that I’ll be heading to Mexico anytime soon!  But preparing this menu (or at least part of it) is the next best thing to getting away.

 Achiote Chicken Skewers with Guava Sauce

Note:  for best results chicken should marinate overnight


·        1½ (one-and-one-half) cups fresh lime juice
·        5 (five) cloves garlic, minced
·        1 (one) tablespoon achiote paste (available at Latin food stores)
·        1½ (one-and-one-half) teaspoons dried oregano
·        1½ (one-and-one-half) teaspoons ground cumin
·        2½ (two-and-one-half) pounds skinless, boneless chicken (thigh meat, cut into one-inch pieces)
·        3 (three) jalapeno chilis
·        1 (one) twenty-ounce jar of guava shells in syrup, strained, 5 tablespoons of syrup reserved, shells pureed (available at Latin food stores)
·        1 (one) tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
·        skewers, metal or bamboo


1.      Blend one cup lime juice, garlic, achiote paste, oregano and cumin in processor until smooth.  Season marinade to taste with salt and pepper.  Place marinade in a medium bowl.  Add chicken, stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate chicken overnight.  If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers overnight.

2.      Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place chilis on a small baking sheet.  Roast until soft, about 20 minutes.  Stem and seed chilis.  Transfer chilis to processor.  Add pureed guava, reserved guava syrup, cilantro and remaining half-cup lime juice.  Process until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to medium-sized bowl.

3.      Prepare barbeque to medium-high heat.  Remove chicken from marinade. Divide chicken among about 18 skewers.  Grill until chicken is cooked, turning once, about 7-9 minutes.  Serve with the reserved guava sauce.

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