Achiote Pumpkin Stew Recipe
By: Zach Diamond
Despite the red color of this dish that usually indicates spice, this stew does not have to be spicy. Simply omit the habaneros from the base sauce, and you will be left with a mild dish. The red color in this case, comes from achiote, a staple ingredient in Yucatecan cuisine that provides earthiness. Mixed with the subtle sweetness of pumpkin, acid from Seville orange or lime juice, and red onions, this dish is hearty and complex.
The first step to this dish is the achiote sauce. Here in the Yucatan, a spice blend called recado rojo is sold in bulk at markets. A red paste, its main ingredient is achiote seeds, ground down with cumin, cloves, oregano and garlic. I believe recado rojo or a similar achiote spice mix can be found at most markets in the States, but in case you can’t find it, simply grind up the spices it includes.
Yield: ¾ cup
- 2 tablespoons recado rojo or grind up:
- 1 ½ teaspoons achiote
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cloves
- ½ cup Seville orange juice, or ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 1 habanero, minced (optional)
Combine the recado rojo or blended spices with the juice and water and mix until dissolved. Break up any remaining clumps by hand. Add in the garlic, cilantro and habanero and stir.
Calabaza Cazuela - Pumpkin Stew
Yield: Serves 4
Cook time: ~45 minutes
Prep time: ~15 minutes
- 1 calabaza pumpkin or butternut or any other type of squash, cut into ½ inch slabs
- 2 poblano peppers
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
- ¾ cup achiote sauce (see above)
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped for serving
- ¼ cup shredded Oaxaca cheese, or Monterey Jack, for serving (optional)
- Lime wedges
- Warm tortillas (optional)
- Cooked rice
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or shallow saucepan. Add sliced red onion and squash cubes. Cook until onions are translucent and squash is semi-soft, about 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blister poblanos either over a burner on a gas stove or underneath a broiler until charred on all sides. Let cool and remove blackened skin, seeds, and stems. Chop remaining flesh into ¼ inch slices.
- Pour in achiote sauce and bring to a simmer. Add tomatoes and poblanos and let simmer until sauce reduces and squash is tender.
- Garnish with cilantro and cheese and serve with rice, warm tortillas and lime wedges on the side