Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jamaican Oxtail Pepperpot

     Jamaican Pepperpot should not be confused with Philadelphia Pepperpot or Ghana Pepperpot.  Only Jamaican Pepperpot has a spicy hot chile pepper kick!
     Plenty of tradition goes into Jamaican Pepperpot recipes.  A combination of Native Caribbean and African ingredients makes Jamaican Pepperpot such an interesting dish.
     Jamaican Pepperpot is a hearty soup that is rich enough to be called a stew.  Pepperpot is a nutritious meal that also helps beat the tropical heat.  Scotch Bonnet Peppers not only add a spicy flavor, they cause light perspiration that provides a welcome cooling sensation on a hot humid day.
     The recipe for Pepperpot varies from one cook to the next in the Caribbean Islands.  Jamaican Pepperpot is basically a stew of starchy root vegetables, greens, chile peppers and just enough meat to enrich the broth.  Goat, chicken, pork or secondary cuts of beef are used to make Jamaican Pepperpot.  Oxtail is one of the most popular offal choices, because this secondary cut of beef imparts plenty of flavor.  The price of oxtail has gone through the roof during the last 10 years, so it is best to mention oxtail in the recipe title, especially when serving this Pepperpot as a soup du jour in a restaurant.  
     The proportion of root vegetables is high in Jamaican Pepperpot, because the starchy vegetables make this soup filling.  Orange color Sweet Potato, Yellow Sweet Potato (Yellow Yam) and Cocoyam (Yautia-Malanga) are the traditional root vegetables.
     The leafy green vegetable in Jamaican Pepperpot is nearly always Callaloo.  Callaloo is also known as Amaranth Greens or Pigweed.  Fresh Amaranth Greens can be found in Mexican food markets throughout the Southwest.  Canned Callaloo can be found in Caribbean food markets.  If no Callaloo is available, then Collard Greens, Dandelion Greens or Turnip Greens are good substitutes.
     Scotch Bonnet Peppers are as hot as a Habanero Pepper, so be careful not to add too much.  The goal is to create just enough hot pepper flavor to provide relief from the tropical heat.  The Cocoyam (Malanga) also has a chemical that causes light perspiration.  As one can see, a traditional Jamaican Pepperpot is a recipe that was developed long before air conditioning came to be!          
     Jamaican Oxtail Pepperpot:
     This recipe yields 2 hearty servings.  (About 4 cups)
     Small oxtail pieces are best for this recipe.  
     Step 1:  Select 8 ounces of small oxtail pieces.
     Lightly season the oxtail with sea salt and black pepper.  
     Step 2:  Heat a wide large sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the oxtail pieces.
     Sauté till the oxtail is lightly browned on all sides.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1 cup of beef broth.
     Add 2 cups of vegetable broth.
     Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced carrot.
     Add 1/3 cup of diced celery.
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer till the oxtail meat starts to become tender.  Allow the volume of the broth to reduce to about 4 cups.    
     Step 5:  Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1/2 cup of large diced green bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of diced red bell pepper.
     Add 1 chopped Scotch Bonnet pepper.
     *For a mild flavor add 1/2 of a Scotch Bonnet.  For extra spicy hot, serve with a bottle of Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce on the side!
     Add 1/2 cup of large diced peeled Cocoyam (Malanga).
     Add 1/3 cup of large diced peeled Yellow Sweet Potato (Yellow Yam).
     Add 1/2 cup of large diced peeled Sweet Potato (orange color).
     Add 1 cup of chopped fresh Callaloo Greens (or 2/3 cup of chopped canned Callaloo).
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 2 pinches of allspice.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  *If necessary, add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.    
     Bring the soup back to a gentle boil.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 cup of coconut milk while stirring.
     Gently simmer the soup till the vegetables are very tender.  (Do not stir after the Sweet Potatoes become tender or they will break apart.)
     *Only add broth or water if necessary.  The proportion of meat and vegetables should be higher than the amount of broth!
     Step 8:  Remove the bay leaf.
     Squeeze 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice over the Pepperpot just before serving.
     Ladle the Jamaican Oxtail Pepperpot into a large soup bowl.
     Serve with sliced bread on the side.
     No garnish is necessary!

     Jamaican Oxatil Pepperpot!  Yah Mon!

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