Caribbean Entreebeef and callaloo stew

Beef & Callaloo Stew
(Serves 8-10)

This sweet and savory, stew is actually made with callaloo, a plant indigenous to the Caribbean (see sidebar). Fresh spinach works fine as a substitute.

1 lb. beef stew meat (1" cubes)
2 T vegetable oil (more if needed)
1/2 C onion (chopped)
3 large cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
1/4 C sweet red bell pepper (minced)
5 C chicken or vegetable broth
5 oz. can coconut milk
1 lb. fresh spinach leaves
1/2 tsp. chili pepper (minced w/out seeds)*
1 C uncooked long-grained rice
2 tsp. salt
1/4 C cashews (coarsely chopped) for garnish
1/4 C red bell pepper (chopped) for garnish

In a large, deep skillet, brown beef in hot oil, turning on all sides. After 5-7 minutes, add onion and continue browning (add more oil if necessary). Add garlic and red bell pepper, saute for 3-4 minutes, then add broth. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour. You want about 3 C of liquid remaining.

Add coconut milk, spinach, and Habanero pepper. Simmer gently, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes.

Add uncooked rice and salt. Cover pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes till the rice is tender. Turn into a large bowl and sprinkle top with chopped cashews and bell pepper.

* Caribbeans use the Scotch Bonnet Pepper, but it may be easier to find jalapeno or habenero. They're all hot—very, very hot—so use with care.

| See more Caribbean recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Caribbean cuisine is an exquisite blend of African, Asian, European, and Carib Indian (the area's original inhabitants) foods. Dishes are highly seasoned, either with a dry rub or marinade —or both. Beloware some typical ingredients found in Caribbean food.

Callaloo: young leaves of either the taro root plant or amaranth; used widely in Caribbean cooking. Spinach can be used as a substitute.

Spices: Allspice, bay leaves, black pepper, chives, chili peppers, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut, curry powder, escallion, garlic, ginger, lime, mace, nutmeg, onion, oregano, sugar, thyme, orange, tomato paste, vanilla, cayenne (red) pepper.

Jerk: Jamaican cooking method in which meat is rubbed, prior to grilling, with a blend of seasonings, often firey hot.

Jerk is also the name of the seasoning (from Spanish charqui, or dried meat). You can buy jerk in most grocery stores (even McCormick makes it), or can make and store your own.

• 1 T each—onion powder, garlic powder, dried chives, brown sugar; 2 tsp. each— (ground) allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon; 1 tsp. each—sage. thyme, salt, black pepper, cayenne (or more to taste). Mix thoroughly and store in a tightly covered jar.

There are thousands of versions; figure out what flavors you like most and add or subtract accordingly.

Typical meats: goat, pork, chicken, and some beef (though beef has tended to be expensive).

Fish: varieties that abound in surrounding waters, some familiar to us—grouper, cod, tilapia, blue marlin; others not so—200 species of jack, chip-chips (tiny clams), casadura (primitive armored catfish).

Native plant foods:
• ackee—peach-looking fruit with pulp like scrambled eggs
• annatto (achiote) seed
red coloring or flavoring agent w/ slightly sweet peppery taste.
• cassava root (taro root)
• malanaga root
• scotch bonnet peppers
• breadfruit—fruit used like a potato in salads, stews, even whipped.
• passion fruit

More familiar foods:
bananas and plantains, okra, yams, papaya, mangoes, coconut, yams, sweet potatoes, rice, beans, corn and cornmeal.


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