Recado Rojo

Red  spice paste from the Maya of the Yucatan.

2 TB annatto seeds
1 TB coriander seeds
1 TB black peppercorns
1 TB cumin seeds
1 TB dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp allspice berries
1/4 tsp cloves (about 5 cloves)

5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tsp coarse salt
2-3 TB Seville orange juice

(I used Italian oregano instead of Mexican, and lemon juice instead of Seville oranges)

1. dry roast the garlic cloves in a heated pan, until the outside turns brown and they soften. Remove from heat.
2. put all the seeds, peppercorns, berries, cloves and dry oregano in the pan just vacated by the garlic. Keep tossing it all to keep from burning. Keep toasting until it becomes fragrant and pops. Remove from heat, let cool a bit.
3. put the salt in a mortar. Drop the garlic on top of it, and mush it with a pestle. It mushes like nothing else. Add orange juice and mush some more.
4. Grind the spices in a spice mill (coffee grinder). Annatto seeds are particularly hard. I sifted the ground spices through a sieve, and reground the larger pieces. Add the final powder to the mortar.
5. grind everything together with mortar and pestle, using more orange juice if you need to, until you have a thick paste that holds its shape.

Store in the refrigerator. Will last a few weeks apparently.


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