Lately I’ve switched allegiance to “Team Wet”, when it comes to Pelau. That iconic one pot Caribbean dish you’ll find in some form or the other, across the islands. Don’t get me wrong! A grainy Pelau is just as delicious, but the sort of creaminess you get will a little moisture left in the dish, adds a new level of ‘comfort’. Peep the Wet Chicken Pelau I shared a few weeks back and tell me it’s not a thing of mouth-watering beauty.
3 lbs stewing beef (cubed)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 lemon (for washing the beef)
1 med tomato (diced)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 tablespoon veg oil
1 1/2 tablespoon golden brown sugar
3-5 bird’s eye pepper (bird pepper – or any spicy pepper you like)
2 pimento peppers (optional)
2 cups long grain brown parboiled rice
1 can pigeon peas (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 can coconut milk (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 medium carrot (diced)
6 oz baby spinach
4 cups water (divided)
Cut the beef into 1 – 2 inch pieces, then wash with the juice of a lemon (use a lime or 1/4 cup of vinegar if that’s what you have) and cool water (not mentioned in the ingredient list). Drain and get ready to season.
In a large bowl with the washed beef, add the tomato, onion, black pepper, salt, Angostura bitters, Worcestershire, tomato ketchup, ginger and Caribbean Green seasoning. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours.
Heat a large heavy pot on high heat and add the oil followed by the brown sugar. Make sure your spoon is dry (liquid will cause flareups) and stir the sugar. It will melt, go frothy, then deep amber in color. This is when you’ll add the seasoned beef (yes, marinade too) to the pot and stir well to coat. If the sugar goes black STOP – allow the pot to completely cool, wash, dry and start over. Black sugar will give you a bitter burnt taste. Pour 2 cups of water into the bowl you marinated the beef in so we can pick up anything remaining and add to the pot later on.
Heat still on high, place the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Yes it will spring it’s own juices. 2-3 minutes later and it will come to a boil. Stir one more time, reduce the heat to (LOW) a simmer, top with the pimento peppers along with the birds eye pepper and lid on. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Lid on!
40-45 minutes on a that low heat, the pieces of beef will now be somewhat tender, crank up the heat to burn off any remaining liquid. This will give you that rich color we’re looking for along with additional flavor.
Once the liquid is gone and you can see the oil we started with, add the 2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Followed by the washed rice and coconut milk. Rinse the canned pigeon peas under cold water, drain and add to the pot, along with the carrots.
As it comes to a boil, add the remaining 2 cups of water and the spinach.
Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the rice is plump and cooked all the way through.
After 20-25 minutes, it’s time to start personalizing things. Taste for salt and adjust, keep an eye on the liquid/texture as some people may like it more ‘wet’ than others. I did turn off my stove at this point as I knew the cast iron pot I made this in will continue cooking and burn off most of the remaining liquid. Do keep in mind that more of my liquid was absorbed than what you see in the images.
I did say “iconic” right? Serve HOT with a side salad (even if it’s just sliced cucumber and tomato) or coleslaw and if you want the respect of your family and friends, be sure to have some Mango Kuchela and thick slices of zabouca (aka avocado, pear). Personally, I enjoy Pelau most with Spicy Tomato Choka on the side.
Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/