(the most exotic ingredient, the Scotch bonnet peppers, the lower left corner).
I live in Crown Heights, which is a really cool [not corny, gentrified, or expensive] neighborhood just east of Prospect Park on the gorgeous, scenic Eastern Parkway. Olmsted and the other dude, who did Central Park and Prospect Park, supposedly designed Eastern Parkway (and it anemic brother, Ocean Parkway) after the Champs-Élysées. But this ain't no tour guide blog. I love my neighborhood because of the Carribean community who lives here, with their music, accents, style and of course cuisine. (Does this sound like some thing a shitty gentrifier might say? gah!)
I went to a famous Jamaican restaurant the Islands with JK when she visited in February, and I was considering a vegetarian option, but she gently mocked me in her adorable "I'm so English" accent and instead we gorged ourselves silly on curry goat and shepherd's pie. About a month ago, I was too lazy to cook, so I got some curry goat for me and the only veggie option available for Blokey, called "Stew peas." The curry goat was less appealing this time around, but we scarfed down the Stew Peas and cabbage and rice. I vowed to learn how to make this fragrant coconut-milk based bean stew in the future.
Traditionally, like many bean dishes, Stew Peas are made with ham hock or other meat flavoring, but I was lucky to find an Ital recipe online (Ital is the vegan lifestyle of Rastafarians. Their food is amazing although I don't know how healthy it is, since they tend to go crazy with sugars and oil. I dig Imhotep for good, fast cheap Ital in the neighborhood). I was able to use the beautiful potatoes and the long green onions I got from our CSA this afternoon. The other ingredients are from local groceries.
Ital Stew Peas (adapted from Jamaica.com)
serves alot of frickin people (invite your neighbors and create good karma). I'll guess about 6 hungry hippos
1 bag of dried* beans (I used the many bean soup mix that Goya makes)
2 whole scotch bonnet peppers (I cut the tops off). Alternately, you could use a habenero, or maybe those light green ones)
¼ cup water
3 c. coconut milk (that's approx 1 1/2 cans)
3-4 bay leaves
12 pimento grains (allspice)
5 whole or halved cloves of garlic
3 scallions (the white parts only, with hairy bits chopped off)
1 onion chopped
3 sprigs of thyme (I used 2 pinches of dried stuff)
½ teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon natural sea salt (caution, this is SALTY, so please season to taste)
2 potatoes cubed
3 carrots sliced
Rice for serving
1/2 head of cabbage and 1/2 onion (for optioned cabbage side dish- which they always serve at Islands)
1. Soak the beans (I put them in a pot covered with water, heat to boil, take off the heat, add the lid, walk away and a few hours later they are basically soft). Drain off the soaking water.
2. Place coconut milk, bay leaves, scallion, pimento grain, whole garlic and pepper in the pot.
3. Slowly boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the peas are tender.
4. Season by adding the onions, crushed garlic and thyme.
5. Add carrots and potatoes
6. Let simmer for 20 minutes (until potatoes are done).
7. Remove the scallions, bay leaves and hot pepper before serving.
In the mean time, add 1/2 onion (diced) in a large, deeper frying pan with 1 Tbs of butter. Add half a head of roughly chopped cabbage. Stir fry until tender. You can season with a bit of salt, pepper and thyme, but since this will complement a vary well spiced and seasoned stew, there's no real need.
Serve stew with cabbage and cooked rice (I used white basmati).
That's Blokey's hand in the picture. And our dingy kitchen floor. Blokey claims its as good as the Islands, but I don't know about that. I bet it tastes better tomorrow.
Ow, I ate too much and now my tummy hurts. It's that good.
*Please do not use canned beans. Even though Mark Bittman has changed his stance on this dusty cupboard staple, they will turn into mush in this soup. Plus, they are super salty and this may overwhelmed the spices.