Carne colorada is an achiote marinated meat dish. Carne colorada translates as reddish meat, this traditional Ecuadorian dish gets its name from the orangish red color that the meat absorbs from achiote or annatto seed. Carne colorada is a typical dish from the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura in the northern highland region in Ecuador. This Ecuadorian meat dish is made by marinating beef (or pork) in marinade made with achiote or annatto, beer (or chicha), garlic, onion, cumin and oregano. Carne colorada is another one of the typical Ecuadorian dishes that is served as a composed plate with a variety of traditional side dishes. The exact side dishes will vary based on the restaurant or the home cook who prepares it, but some of the most popular options include fried ripe plantains, boiled mote or hominy corn, llapingachos or potato patties, avocado slices, rice, yuca or cassava, boiled potatoes with cheese sauce, empanadas, salad, curtido sauce, tostado corn nuts, among others. Once you add all the sides to the dish it becomes a huge plate (sometimes served on 2 plates to accommodate all the side dishes). When preparing it a home, you can choose to omit some of the heavier side dishes and just include the ones that you prefer or that are made with ingredients that you have available. Personally I usually serve carne colorada with fried ripe plantains, avocado slices, a small salad and at least one of the starchy sides: rice, potatoes (boiled or made into llapingachos potato patties), hominy or yuca.
I posted this recipe a while ago and realized that it isn’t as authentic as it could be. It tastes fine, but is missing that intense achiote flavor. I also wanted to make sure that it had that characteristic bright red color that makes this Ecuadorian carne colorada so recognizable. If you are familiar with achiote or annatto then you know that its flavor is very subtle, it is used more coloring the food than for the flavor. However, for this particular dish of carne colorada, in addition to the color of the dish, you should be able to distinctly taste the earthiness of the achiote in the meat. For this updated version, I increased the amount of ground achiote that goes into the marinade, and I also made an achiote oil to cook the meat. [read more]
This is my recipe for Ecuadorian tortillas de platano verde, which are green plantain patties or savory cakes stuffed with cheese (or other fillings). Have I mentioned before how much I love the mix of green plantains and cheese? Probably thousands of times, but I don’t get tired of repeating it. These green plantain patties are made with a green plantain dough, that is basically the same dough as I use to make green plantain empanadas. I just add an additional cooked plantain, since the dough for the patties can have a higher ratio of cooked plantain to raw plantain. I included a list of tips for making the dough on the original empanada recipe, you can read them in more detail there, but the high level summary is that I simplify the recipe by using a food processor. I also find that at least here in the US, where the plantains aren’t always as super green as they are in Ecuador, it helps to add an egg to the dough. Again, that isn’t at all the traditional way, but rather just another one of my carishina (a Quechua term for someone who has no hope in the kitchen or anything domestic) cooking techniques or hacks. This variation of the dough is very simple, some other versions will also add some refrito or sofrito to the dough mix (similar to how you would make llapingachos) or ground peanuts (similar to a bolon).
The plantain patties are stuffed with cheese and then cooked on a griddle, or a frying pan, until golden and crispy. My favorite way to make these tortillas de verde is to stuff them with cheese, however you can make them with other fillings, from chorizo to pork belly, seafood or pretty much anything that you think would work as a filling. I love serving these green plantain patties with a variety of sauces or topping options. Some of my favorites include aji hot sauces, such as the traditional tree tomato aji or the aji criollo. I also really like serving them cebollas encurtidas or pickled red onions, or the close variant of onion and tomato curtido. Recently I also tried serving them with a creamy avocado sauce (or a chunky avocado salsa or regular guacamole) and have to say that it goes really well with the tortillas de verde. My friends from the coastal areas of Ecuador will probably consider it borderline food heresy, but hey, as a Serrana (person from the Highlands) I can get away with the “I put avocado on everything” excuse. [read more]