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Salted pig tails as comfort food?

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Salted pig tails as comfort food?


cooking-pigtail-soupI think I mentioned in a previous post that one of the most comforting things about growing up on the islands was the amazing thick and rich soups we enjoyed just about every Saturday. Pig tails, salt beef, chicken, beef, vegetarian, salted cod or the 2nd most favorite of mine… fish broth with tons of macaroni and green bananas. There were so many versions of making these soups that we never got tired of soup-Saturday!

Today I’d like to share one of the ways of making salted pig tails with split peas soup. I call this one a “loner soup”, since I can’t convince anyone else at home to eat it with me. More for me I guess! Our girls eat just about every dish I make that’s considered “Caribbean”, except they won’t touch ground provisions and/or salted meats like pig tail, beef or cod.

Note: Don’t be turned off by the ingredients, it’s an amazing soup that’s more like a North American stew. It’s heavy, full of chunks of root vegetables and very thick.

You’ll need…

1 1/2 lbs of salted pig tails (ask your butcher to cut into 2 inch pieces)

2 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)

3 eddoes (peeled and diced)

1 1/2 lbs yam (not the sweet stuff – ask for Caribbean yam)

1 cup split peas

8 cups of water

1 can coconut milk (about 1/2 cup)

1 carrot (peeled and diced)

2 sprigs of thyme

1 tablespoon of green seasoning

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 hot pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lime (juice)

EDIT (Jan 20 2010): I forgot to add 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic to the ingredients list. Special thanks to Lygia for pointing this out to me. Chris…

Some optional ingredients. Feel free to add other ground provisions like cassava and green bananas as well as simple flour dumplins.

pigtail-soup-tips

Let’s get started by washing the pieces of pig tails with the juice of the lime and water.After which place the pieces of meat into a deep sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. We’re trying to get rid of some of the brine/salt that the pig tails were cured in. After which you drain the water out and get ready for the next step in cooking (below).

pigtail-soup-recipe

trinidad-pigtail-soup

While this is cooking, let’s dice the garlic and onion. Add the oil to a very deep saucepan (keep in mind how much ingredients we have to fit in there) and heat, then add the diced onion and garlic. When the onion is soft (translucent), add the pieces of pig tails that you boiled for 20 minutes before.

how-to-make-pigtail-soup

caribbean-pigtail-soup

trini-pigtail-soup

After about 3 minutes we can start adding some of the other ingredients like… black pepper, thyme, coconut milk, green seasoning and the hot pepper. Wash the split peas and also add this to the pot. The split peas and pig tails will take a long time to cook and get tender. Almost forgot… add the 8 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. This will now have to cook for about 1 hr.

ingredients-for-pigtail-soup

Note: the picture above was taken before I added all the water. This is why my pot seems like it doesn’t have 8 cups of water.

While this is simmering away (pot covered) let’s peel and dice the vegetables we’ll be adding.

cooking-pigtail-soup

You can prepare this step before-hand, but remember to place the vegetable in a large bowl and cover with cold water to prevent them from going discolored. The next step is to now add the vegetables to the pot, bring back to a boil, then reduce back to a simmer. Allow this to continue cooking for about 20 minutes. I like my yams and potatoes well cooked, to the point where it’s melting away. I forgot to mention. Cut the ground provisions and vegetables into fairly big pieces.

split-peas-pigtail-soup

Let’s recap the cooking time so you’re clear.

- boil pig tails for 20 minutes then drain

- cook onions etc for 3 minutes

- then cook (everything except the vegetables) for about 1 hr

- add vegetable and cook for a further 20 minutes.

NOTE: You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt in the cooking process. This is because the pig tails should add enough salt to the entire dish, even though we already boiled it before. Feel free to taste at the end and add any additional salt if required. If there’s ever the chance that I need to add salt, I usually add about a teaspoon of “golden ray” margarine (salted butter).

The finished product…

pigtail-soup

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