Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jamaican Oxtail Pepperpot

This is the very best tropical stew!  Arawak native influence is in this stew but African descendants do the same kind of cooking.  The ingredients for this dish vary from place to place in the caribbean islands.  There is no food markets in my area that provides some of the preferred ingredients for this stew, so, I made a couple of good substitutes.  Calaloo  is found fresh in the Caribbean islands and in the South United States but there is none in Chicago.  I substituted some cooked collard greens.  Cocoyam (yellow yam) was not available in the Chicago area either so I used regular orange yam.  These substitutes did not change the desired flavor at all.
     Pepperpot Recipe:  Roast oxtail pieces in a  325 degree oven till they become slightly brown.  Deglaze the pan and pour the pan juice and the oxtails into a pot.
     Add a mix of beef broth and vegetable broth to the pot and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add a little bit of crushed garlic, some chopped onion, a little bit of diced carrot, a little bit of diced celery, some chopped green onion, a generous amount of diced green bell pepper and diced red bell pepper.  Add a chopped Scotch Bonnet Pepper, a diced cocoyam (or regular yam), sea salt, black pepper, a bay leaf and some ground allspice.
     Bring the soup back up to a boil and then turn the heat to simmer.  Add chopped calaloo greens (or collard greens).  Add coconut milk.  Let simmer on low heat for about an hour or more.  Do not stir too often or the yams will crush and oxtail meat will fall off of the bone.  Stir gently!
     When the pepperpot is done cooking and all the flavors have melded, squeeze a little bit of lime juice in the pot.  Ladle into a soup bowl and serve.
     The flavor of pepperpot is so very great!  You can make this dish way too spicy if you use too much Scotch Bonnet Pepper.  So, go easy on the amount of chili pepper.  The coconut milk broth is so soothing.  The tender oxtail meat does fall off the bone.  The allspice is so nice in this island stew.  This pepperpot is one great healthy meal!  Ya Mon!  ...  Shawna

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