During those cold and nasty winter days in January and February I always try to add a little Caribbean sunshine in our home/kitchen in Canada, with a big pot of bubbling Pelau. A delicious one pot dish packed with ingredients and flavors of the Caribbean which immediately takes me back to my childhood on the islands. However back then it was the dish of choice (usually the Chicken version) for those days at the beach.
3 lbs beef
2 scallions (chopped)
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 med onion (diced)
1 large tomato (diced)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 tablespoon salt
3 cups long grain par-boil rice
1 can coconut milk (about 1.5 cups)
2 cups water – adjust
1 large carrot (diced)
1 can pigeon peas (drain, rinsed)
3 small white habanero peppers
1 tablespoon veg oil
1 1/2 tablespoon golden brown sugar
IMPORTANT! If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs (especially the Worcestershire sauce). I used 3 white Habanero peppers, but you can use any spicy pepper you like or leave it out if ‘heat’ is not your thing. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers.
Cut the pieces of beef into thin strips (I used a cheap cut of beef) and season with the salt, black pepper, scallions, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, parsley, tomato, onion, garlic, hot pepper and ketchup. Stir well and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
This is the most critical part of the cooking process so follow along by using the video below. In a heavy / dry pot, heat the veg oil on a medium flame, then add the brown sugar. Make sure the pot is dry, as well as the spoon you’ll be using. I’d recommend using a spoon with a long handle. You may need to turn the fan on above your stove or open your kitchen windows as it can become a bit smoky. Turn the heat up to high (please have the seasoned beef close) and stir the sugar. It will melt, go frothy, then amber in color (like the edges in the pic below). You want all the sugar to go amber and NOT black. If it goes black you’ve gone too far.. STOP. As you achieve that amber color.. carefully add the seasoned beef to the pot and stir well.
After you’ve stirred it well, cover the pot and bring it to a boil. After it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes. Yes, you will be required to stir it every 5-10 mins and it will spring it’s own juices.
After 30 minutes or so, turn the heat up to med/high, remove the lid and burn off all the liquid that’s left. We’ll achieve two things.. intensify the beef with the ‘stewed’ flavor and we’ll get a lovely dark color which will help ‘color’ the finished dish. In the same bowl you marinated the beef, pour in the water and mix around to pick up any remaining marinade (we’ll need it soon). Stir the beef well as the liquid burns off so it’s doesn’t burn. When you can see the veg oil we started off with, add the rinsed pigeon peas, diced carrots and coconut milk. Stir and bring to a boil
It’s now time to wash your rice and add it to the pot. Basically all you have to do is place the rice in a deep bowl, cover with water and massage with your fingers/hands. The water will go cloudy. Drain off that water and repeat that process until the water in the bowl is relatively clear.
Now add the water from the bowl (where the beef was marinated) and bring to a boil (stir). As it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover and allow it to cook until the rice is fully plump and all the liquid is burnt off. Taste for salt near the end and adjust accordingly. I’d recommend leaving the lid on the pot for about 10 minutes after you turn off the stove. Also, you can have the Pelau be grainy (as in this version) or add a bit more water to the pot if you like your pelau a bit more ‘soupy’.
If you have celery or extra parsley, I’d recommend adding a bit (diced fine) after you turn off the stove. Then after the 10 minutes of ‘resting’, stir in.