One of my favorite soups to look forward to on "Soup Saturdays" was when mom would have a massive pot of saltbeef (salted beef) soup, packed with ground provisions bubbling away on the stove. Due to the price and the fact that sourcing 'good' salted beef was difficult, we didn't have saltbeef soup often. I still get a chuckle when I do thick heavy soups during the summer months here in Canada and people would say "isn't it too hot for soups?". For the most part the Caribbean is always hot and it's tradition throughout the Caribbean that on Saturday's we enjoy a piping hot bowl of soup.
Last weekend I was asked "what's your specialty?" in reference to what I cook and without hesitation I said it's not so much a dish or category of food, but technique. As we continue July's Month Of Grilling, I'm sure you can tell that I quite enjoy working with the raw heat of the grill. The essence of the fire changes the overall dish in such a manner that's almost impossible to duplicate on a stove or oven. While we're not using pimento wood to give the burgers that unique "Jamaican Jerk" depth, I assure you that you'll be amazed by what a simple jerk marinade can do to basic ground beef.
We've done channa and aloo (chickpeas and potato) fully vegetarian, with added flavor by adding chicken to the mix and in this recipe we'll follow the same technique for cooking this tasty curry dish, but we'll add another unique flavor and texture by starting with a curry beef base. As we've discussed in previous posts using chickpeas / garbanzo beans are commonly known as channa in the Southern Caribbean, where there's a stronger East Indian influence.
As a new immigrant to Canada, I remember the days when oxtails were just about the cheapest cut of meat you could get at the grocery store / butcher (they were practically giving the stuff away). Along with liver, gizzards, trotters, chicken feet, snouts and other parts of meats which were considered undesirable by the major part of the buying public, we reveled in the prices. In the Caribbean nothing goes to waste, so what most people refused to use, we had already perfected recipes which brought out the natural goodness of these cuts. Today, with oxtails hovering between $8 and $11 a pound, its now become something you buy for a special occasion or when you have a serious craving.. as in this case with me today!
I must have been about 6 at the time... a bit vague, but that would have been my first "burger' experience. Dad took my brother and I to 'town' (Port of Spain) to spend the day at the zoo and the choice was Burger Boys or Wimpy's! This was before McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys invaded the Caribbean. Not sure why we ended up at Wimpy's, but I still recall sharing a massive platter with my brother as we joked with my dad that it looked like something from the Flintstones. Even to this day, when we grill/BBQ in the Caribbean burgers and hotdogs rarely ever touch the grates.. we want REAL meat (and fish)!
That bone chilling cold is back and with a vengeance. Over the Christmas holidays it was relatively mild by Canadian standards, but this morning the mercury dropped to -28 C (-18.4 F). Like a true son of the Caribbean soil, I'm battling back with a hearty beef with sweet potato and pumpkin soup to warm up the mind, soul and body! We'll start off by roasting the pieces of beef (with bones) in the oven, something which is not traditional in Caribbean soup making, but that roasted flavor will elevate this soup to a HIGHER level! Then we go in with pieces of pumpkin and sweet potato, followed by fresh herbs and other flavor ingredients.
When you hear a Guyanese person speak about Christmas the conversation always heads in the direction of Pepperpot. You have to love the passionate manner in which my fellow Caribbean people speak about this lovely meat stew most Guyanese serve on Christmas morning with a thick slice of their traditional plait bread. The tender pieces of meat falling of the bones and the rich gravy.... oh that rich gravy! You'd rip a piece of the bread and dunk in into that lovely gravy, spiced with cinnamon, herbs and cassareep (a thick molasses like reduction made from cassava). Other that what goes into making the pepperpot, patience is key... low and slow and you'll be rewarded.
This recipe takes me back to a time when I was in my early teens and I’d go to watch movies on the weekend in San Fernando (Trinidad) with my bother and our dad. There was a Chinese restaurant on Mucurapo Street where we’d usually end up as I’ve had a weakness for Chinese food […]
Looks interesting, but I’ve never heard of ‘Curry Oxtails’… a comment left after I posted a pic of this “Ultimate Curry Oxtails” on the facebook fan page earlier today. With the natural toughness and sort of gamy finish of oxtails, it would be a natural fit for cooking in a rich curry sauce. The bones will […]
I became a fan of oxtails after the prices sky-rocketed.. yea my luck. Back when I first moved to Canada, the butchers would practically beg customers to take oxtails off their counter. That’s definitely not the case today. The odd time it comes on sale it’s usually around $3.50 / lb, but the quality is […]