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Stew Peas with a Kick
You know, sometimes an experiment does not turn out exactly as planned or even come
close to it. And, you should know, I asked my wife to assist me with this experiment
using Stew Peas or Red Kidney Bean Stew as some may refer to this dish now.
You see, most people will change a recipe on a whim, while others will just enjoy the
same thing week-in week-out. But I always dare old notions and ‘traditional cooking’
whenever possible. In so far as going up against the status quo, Mavis and I have had to
change many established Jamaican dishes to suit particular situations at times.
However, this experiment did not just happen as you will see. A few years ago, I had a
conversation with a woman at a party that one of my good friends had invited me to. The
woman and I talked at length about the old time Jamaican foods and compared recipes
and cooking techniques and the like.
As party went on, the subjects changed from the amount of fat we used to add to some
Jamaican foods, and who wanted to loose weight by retooling some of the same dishes
we had had as children. She then told me about a little secret ingredient her granny used
to put into the Stew Peas to give it a kind of kick.
Well granny did not answer her queries immediately when she showed that satisfying
appreciative look after tasting granny’s Stew Peas. No Mon!!! Granny kept the secret
ingredient a secret for quite some time before she revealed it to her granddaughter.
Needless to say I felt privileged when the woman told me about this little secret
But before I tell you what it is, I would like to continue with the development of this
story. Cool? Alright! I left the party that night with all sorts of thoughts about this little
secret nut that we had talked about. Although I have had coconut milk in my Stew Peas
this other nut she mentioned threw me for a loop, so to speak.
Never in my Jamaican culinary imagination would I expect a nut we consistently use in
drinks be added to one of our favorite stews…especially Stew Peas. If you know Stew
Peas, this stew’s variants only come with meat. By that I mean, the common style of
making Stew Peas includes, but not limited to, salt beef, fresh beef, and salted pig’s tail.
The other variation may include chicken feet, cowhide, cow feet, or pig trotters (pig feet).
As you can tell, meats are the base ingredients in this stew. Anything else would just be a
flavoring. Saying that to say this, granny flavored the stew peas dish with….drum roll
please…..rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-Nutmeg. There you have it. Just a pinch of this grated
nut kicks up the flavor a bit.
When Mavis made this Stew Peas the first time, the nutmeg
dominated the stew; she then she tried again and got it right…one cannot stop at the first
sign of failure-especially an experiment.
Now don’t go out and stock-up on massive quantities of nutmeg, because you only need a
pinch of grated nutmeg each time you make this delicious Jamaican Stew Peas, you know.
So, cook this Stew Peas dish again and add you-know-what to it.
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