I’m no stranger to rice. Any given chance to gorge myself on rice, I will gladly take it. I have yet to meet a variety I won’t try. Steamed rice, rice pudding, fried rice, rice balls — it’s all very familiar to me and if I ever find myself in need of a last meal, rice would be requested.
Since summer is not over yet, I’ve been trying to take advantage of our grill. Despite our grill needing a bit of love after our move, I couldn’t pass up Labor Day without throwing something on. And my choice was chicken.
When I think about BBQ chicken, my first thoughts bring me to the soy sauced marinated variety I grew up with. I didn’t discover the sweet, tomato-based variety until later in life. With soy sauce, some vinegar, citrus juice and an overnight marinade in the refrigerator, it’s ready for the grill.
When marinating, I usually eye the ingredients without fast, hard rules about measurements. (Check out Canine Cologne’s version of BBQ chicken.) The best part of the chicken to BBQ are the chicken thighs. It’s flavorful, a bit fatty and it doesn’t dry out quite easily like the breasts.
With such flavorful chicken, steamed rice works just fine but I wanted to make red rice using annatto seeds aka achiote. Red rice is an option alongside the steamed variety at many Guamanian/Chamarro restaurants. Meat and rice is the center of many Guamanian meals.
Using annatto seeds to color the rice doesn’t really add substantial flavor although some people have described it as tasting peppery. Some people eat the annatto seeds, but I prefer to soak them in the water used to cook the rice.
And with cooking short grain rice, I learned to eye the water level instead of using exact measurements. (My process is based on how deep my knuckles are submerged – obviously an inexact science.)
When finished cooking, the rice is tinted a vibrant red.
Annatto seeds can be found at many grocery stores, including Hispanic markets and my new favorite specialty store, Penzeys.
I’ve used annatto seeds to give a nice golden tone to risotto (using a bit of olive oil with the seeds simmered in it for a few minutes) or noodle dishes. They can be fried in a little oil to release the color if oil is required in a recipe.
Red Rice and Grilled Chicken
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lbs. chicken
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate overnight or for several hours. Drain and discard the fluids. Heat grill to low heat according to instructions.
Place chicken skin side down, flip after 10-15 minutes and cook until chicken is cooked all the way through.
2 cups short grain rice, cleaned and rinsed
4 tablespoons of annatto seeds
2 cups water (or whatever amount is needed to cook the rice)
Soak annatto seeds in the water for 2-3 hours.
Strain and reserve the water. Cook rice according to directions.
Serve with chicken.
Optional dipping sauce: Equal portions of soy sauce with lemon juice and pepper adjusted to taste Or just use bottled Ponzu.