Here’s a dish I usually reach for when I’m homesick for the Caribbean and I need something comforting. Served with rice, pasta, ground provisions, roasted breadfruit or even garlic mashed potatoes, this coconut stewed beef is simply heavenly. While we didn’t eat a lot of beef when I was growing up on the islands (we didn’t like the taste of fresh butchered beef), the occasional time mom would fix this for dinner. it was always a hit. Since we’ll slowly braise this for some time, you can use a very cheap cut of beef if you wanted.
4 lbs beef (1 inch cube)
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Habanero pepper (any spicy pepper you like)
1.5 cups coconut milk
1.5 cups water
2 scallions (chopped)
4-6 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tablespoon veg oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar (golden)
Season your washed/cubed pieces of beef with the salt, habanero pepper, ketchup, onion, Caribbean Green Seasoning, Worcestershire and grated ginger. Mix well and allow to marinate for a couple hours. You can add a diced tomato if you wish.. the acidity is excellent in the mix. Don’t use any of the seeds of the habanero pepper if you’re concerned about the raw heat and remember to wash your hands immediately after with soap and water.
Heat the vegetable oil on a high flame in a heavy pot (one with a lid). Then add the brown sugar and stir. The sugar will melt, go frothy, then amber in color. Do NOT proceed if it goes darker or the finished dish will have a terrible burnt taste. This step is what we know as ‘stewing’ in the Caribbean (watch the video below). As it goes amber in color, start adding the seasoned beef to the pot and stir well to coat.
As it comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to med/low, cover the pot and let it go for about 10 minutes. After which it’s time to burn off all the natural liquid it will sprout. Remove the lid and crank up the heat. This will give us that rich color and flavor we’re looking for.
The goal is the make sure there’s no more liquid at the bottom of the pot (you should see the veg oil we started off with). Toss in the scallions and thyme and give it a good stir. Now add the water (swish the water in the same bowl you marinated the beef in to pick up any remaining marinade), then add the coconut milk.
With your heat still on high, bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and allow it to cook until the pieces of beef are tender. This should take between 1 hour and fifteen to thirty minutes. Depends of the size of your beef pieces, the cut of beef and how old the animal was before they butchered it. Remember to stir every 15-20 minutes.
In my case it took about 1 hr and 10 mins for the pieces of beef to be tender and the gravy to be the consistency I like. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.. you can also top with some additional chopped scallions to brighten it up a bit. Enjoy!
Fork tender and packed with flavors of the Caribbean, this coconut stewed beef is guaranteed to be a hit with your family… as it is with mine. You can certainly stretch this dish with some carrots and/or potatoes, but you’ll have to adjust the seasoning a bit.