Red rice gets its color from annatto seeds, also called achiote, a word that comes from Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Achiote comes from a plant native to Mexico, and it gives this rice a subtle vegetable flavor. This goes well with Poulet a la Creole. It can be kept warm, covered, in a warm spot, for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons annatto oil, recipe follows
- 1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium Spanish onion, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 small bay leaves, broken in 1/2
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, warmed
Melt the butter with the annatto oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the Scotch bonnet and garlic, stir, and cook for 15 seconds. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaves and stir well. Allow the vegetables to cook, stirring frequently, until well-glazed, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the rice, salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock, stir once and bring to a simmer, the immediately turn the heat down to very low. Cover and cook until the rice has absorbed the stock, 12 to 15 minutes. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.
The ochre hue characteristic of so many dishes of the Caribbean and Latin America comes from annatto. Annatto seeds, also known as achiote, deliver a mildly pungent flavor, but not a spicy one. Use this infused oil when cooking rice, or brush it on chicken or fish before you put them on the grill.
1/2 cup annatto seeds
2 cups pure olive oil
Toast the annatto seeds in a heavy saucepan until they just start to smoke. Add the olive oil. When the oil begins to simmer, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain the oil and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for several months.
Yield: 2 cups
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy