In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Incredible Smoked Pigtail Cook Up Rice.

Here’s another one of those insanely good comforting dishes we enjoy across the Caribbean. Each island and household will have it’s own take on this classic Caribbean recipe and that’s what gives us that uniqueness as you work your way up and down the island chain. This is a massive one pot dish meant to be enjoyed as a family or.. freeze the rest for those cold winter nights you want a piece of Caribbean warmth.

You’ll Need…


3-5 lbs smoked pigtails
1 large onion (diced)
3 scallions (chopped)
1 and 1/2 scotch bonnet (divided)
5 large cloves garlic (smashed)
6 sprigs thyme
5 leaves of Shado Beni (Chadon beni or Culantro) chopped
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 stick cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups diced pumpkin
12-15 okra (cut 1 cm wheels)
2 stalks celery (diced)
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
8-10 cups of water (divided)
1/4 cup roocoo
1/2 lb spinach
3 cups long grain parboiled brown rice

Notes: If you can’t source the smoked pigtails (or maybe you don’t mess with pork) you can always use smoked turkey. Additionally you can try European supermarkets for the smoked pigtails (in my case I got mine at a Polish market) if you’re finding it difficult to source. If you’re 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.

Using a very large chefs knife or clever, cut the pigtails into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Then into a pot covered with cool water on a medium flame. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Enough time to remove some of the smoke and salt it’s cured in and to start getting them tender.

Drain and set aside.

In a deep heavy pot (it’s a one pot dish) on a medium flame, add the olive oil, then add the onion, scallions, thyme, Scotch Bonnet pepper (no seeds), garlic and shando beni. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 3-5 minutes.

Add salt, black pepper and the cinnamon stick. Stir well and add the pre-cooked smoked pigtails.

3 minutes later we’ll add the pumpkin, okra and celery. Stir well to coat everything with all those flavors. Add the coconut milk, turn the heat to medium/high and bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, add 3 cups water and Roocoo and mix well. (for the roocoo I basically soaked Annatto seeds in hot water)

After it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Since I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon, this is where I removed the cinnamon stick (it’s done it’s work). Wash the rice and spinach and get ready to add them both to the pot. Typically we’d use dasheen bush (dasheen or taro leaves), but baby spinach is an excellent replacement.

Add the washed rice and go in with another 5 cups of water (you may need to adjust later). Stir well and put the heat up so we can bring this to a boil.

Float the Scotch Bonnet pepper (Do NOT BREAK) as we want the flavors off the oil on the skin of the pepper. This step is optional as we already added a piece of pepper at the start.

20-25 minutes later the rice should be fully cooked, taste for salt and adjust. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper, turn off the heat and place the lid back on and leave on the same burner where you cooked it. 10 minutes later the cook up rice should be done. Now if you like your rice more grainy, you will need to adjust the cooking time of the rice or use less liquid. Speaking about liquid, you may need to add more water (In the ingredient list I said 8-10 cups as depending on the rice you use, it may need more water). Feel free to adjust.

I guarantee you that if this is the first time you’re having this dish, it won’t be the last. You can always use some stock in place of some of the water we used, for additional flavor or depth to this dish.

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1 Comment

  1. Nadia (Trini in Texas)
    October 15, 2020 / 5:24 pm

    I am making this for dinner and the aroma in unbelievable! I am using smoke turkey legs chops up. I boiled it in my own seasonings and after draining, used the seasoned water to add to the pot instead of plain water. The taste is incredible!

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