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Jamaican Stew Peas Recipe

In true Jamaican manipulation of syntax and the Queen’s English, all beans and pulses are referred to as peas, no matter whether or not they’re beans, lentils, or legumes. Within the class of bean dishes, Jamaica’s “stew peas” ranks very excessive on our listing of good consolation meals. A thick and substantial stew made with crimson kidney beans and coconut milk, with the addition of recent beef, salted beef, and pig tail, stew peas is a wealthy, creamy, and salty stew that develops its distinctive taste by simmering for hours on the stovetop. Typical seasonings like scallion, garlic, thyme, and Scotch bonnet improve taste, whereas little flour dumplings referred to as “spinners” end this hearty dish. All the time served with plain steamed white rice and the trusty sides of avocado and fried ripe plantain, it is a actually divine, albeit filling, meal.  

As with many one-pot Jamaican recipes, the origin of dishes like stew peas will be traced again to our colonial legacy as a plantation economic system. Enslaved Africans, who introduced their strategies of meals preparation with them, used ingenuity and creativity to mix conventional African culinary methods with the native elements accessible to them. The merging of African and European colonial traditions gave delivery to many scrumptious meals—stew peas is one instance of a very distinctive dish that’s wealthy in Jamaican tradition.

Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


In African traditions, dishes had been principally ready as one-pot meals utilizing conventional cooking utensils like a three-legged iron pot, grater, picket flip stick (spoon), and picket mortar and pestle (typically used for pounding meals like corn, espresso, cassava, and yam). Meals had been cooked merely, typically over an open flame in a central open kitchen space. Households would collect after a tough day’s work to interrupt bread collectively and share locally of one another’s firm. 

However that was not the one purpose that meals had been communal. Beneath British legislation, plantation house owners had been obligated to offer the enslaved folks with an allowance of salted meat or fish no less than as soon as per yr. This allowance was so meager that shared meals had been extra of a necessity than a luxurious, and infrequently the one method to stretch inadequate elements. For the enslaved, day by day fare was scarce, modest and, every time attainable, hearty.

A light-weight breakfast of cornmeal pap or mashed cassava or yam and molasses water, for instance, was consumed earlier than daybreak. Between the hours of twelve and two, a meal of straightforward roasted provisions and a bit of roasted salted fish was widespread, whereas the primary meal of the day, often supper, consisted of a hearty soup and a facet dish of plantains or yams mashed in a mortar and pestle. Rudimentary kitchen amenities, rustic cooking utensils, and lack of time made the preparation of meals a easy and environment friendly exercise that centered round a single (typically shared) pot over an open flame.  

Along with working grueling hours on the property, the enslaved had been additionally anticipated to complement their diets with elements they grew for themselves, like floor provisions, pulses, and greens. Decided to enhance the standard of their lives, lots of the enslaved even reared their very own pigs and would slaughter and protect the meat, making corned pork, salt pork, and cured pig’s tail. This cured and salted meat was a extremely valued commodity and was bartered for different items, offered to bigger plantations, or traded at weekly Sunday markets.  

Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


Within the post-colonial Jamaica of at this time, recent, corned, cured, pickled, smoked, brined, roasted, grilled, or stewed pork remains to be very fashionable; it seems usually in each easy and elaborate kinds, at day by day meals and larger feasts and festivities, in each rural and concrete areas alike. Nearly all stews, soups, or one-pot dishes will embrace pickled or salted pig tail. When cured in perfectly-spiced brine, it makes a flavorful addition to conventional starch- and vegetable-based stews and soups, giving them a deep smoky and salty taste. 

It’s well-known that each one Jamaican males over a sure age consider that stew peas is an important requirement to a “balanced” weight-reduction plan and have to be consumed no less than as soon as per week. Some years in the past, our father and his “compadres” created a gaggle referred to as the ROMEO Membership. It’s not what you suppose—ROMEO is the truth is an acronym for Retired Outdated Males Consuming Out (go determine). They usually meet on Friday afternoons, the prerequisite being that they have to eat Jamaican meals at a neighborhood restaurant and the meal should not price greater than $25 every. Evidently, stew peas have to be on the menu at any of the Jamaican institutions they select to go to on their weekly jaunts. 

One fateful week just a few years in the past, the ROMEO membership got here to lunch at our newly opened restaurant in Kingston. As they are saying in Jamaica, “What a attaclapse!!!”  (“What a catastrophe!”) It was an incredible supply of uproar, dissent, and rivalry that we dared to not have stew peas and rice on our Friday lunch menu. It was such a hullabaloo and trigger for excellent discontent that we now have all the time suspected that the one purpose they stayed to dine with us that day was due to the “household” connection. Suffice it to say that we now have realized our lesson, and if we’re ever fortunate sufficient to get a name to host Friday lunch for the native chapter of the ROMEO membership once more, stew peas will most definitely be on the menu that day!

Jamaican Stew Peas

This thick and hearty stew of crimson kidney beans, coconut milk, aromatics, meats, and doughy dumplings makes for a perfect consolation meals.

For the Stew Peas: 

  • 14 ounces (393g) dried crimson kidney beans (about 2 cups)

  • 8 ounces (227g) cured salt beef (see notes), reduce into 1-inch items

  • 1 pound (454g) boneless beef chuck, reduce into 1-inch items

  • 8 ounces to 1 pound salted pig tail (227 to 454g), reduce into 1-inch items

  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled

  • One 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

  • 6 allspice berries

  • 3 sprigs recent thyme

  • 2 scallions, root ends trimmed

  • 1 complete Scotch bonnet pepper 

  • Kosher salt 

  • Freshly floor black pepper

For the Spinners and to Serve:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (6.75 ounces; 191g)

  • Kosher salt

  • Cooked white rice for serving

  • Sliced avocado for serving

  • Fried ripe plantain for serving

  • Pickled cucumbers for serving

  1. For the Stew Peas: Place beans in a big bowl and canopy by 3 inches with chilly water. Cowl and put aside in a single day. In a separate giant bowl, add salt beef and pig tail and canopy with chilly water. Cowl and refrigerate for no less than 3 hours or as much as 12 hours. Drain beans, discarding any particles or shriveled beans. Drain and rinse the salt beef and pig tail.

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


  2. In a big Dutch oven, mix drained beans, drained salt beef and pig tail, beef chuck, and garlic. Cowl with chilly water (8 to 10 cups) and produce to a boil over excessive warmth. Scale back warmth to medium-low and simmer uncovered (adjusting warmth as wanted to take care of simmer), till peas are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring often.

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


  3. Add coconut milk, allspice, thyme sprigs, scallions, and complete Scotch bonnet and  proceed to simmer for half-hour earlier than including spinners. 

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


  4. For the Spinners and to Serve: In the meantime, in small bowl, whisk collectively flour and a big pinch of salt. Add 1/2 cup (118ml) chilly water and knead till a sticky dough ball kinds. Cowl and let relaxation quarter-hour.

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


  5. Tear off small items of dough and roll them into cigarette-sized strips. Stir into stew, season with salt to style, and let simmer till the stew thickens and spinners are cooked by means of, 15 to half-hour. Take away allspice berries, thyme sprigs, scallions, and Scotch Bonnet pepper.

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


  6. Serve over white rice with sliced avocado, fried ripe plantain, and pickled cucumber on the facet.

    Critical Eats / Karina Matalon


Particular Tools

Massive Dutch oven

Notes

Salted beef, additionally referred to as salt beef and cured beef, is a corned beef–like product offered in Jamaican and Caribbean markets, as are salted pig tail.

We extremely advocate together with the salted meats—particularly, the pig tail – for an added punch of intense taste. However this dish will be made into a pleasant vegetarian dish by simply eliminating the cured salt beef, boneless beef chuck, and pig tail.

We advocate utilizing a meat cleaver for simpler chopping of the pig tail.

Make-Forward and Storage

Salt beef and beans could also be soaked forward of time and held within the fridge.

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