The traditional way this dish is made is with Dasheen Bush Bhagi (tender leaves of the Taro plant), however being in Canada means that securing decent Taro leaves is very challenging. Yes, I could drive to Toronto to the many West Indian grocers, but from experience I know that it’s insanely expensive and the quality is (most instances) terrible. Everyday baby spinach, which is easily sourced at any local grocery store is an excellent replacement.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 lbs prepared salted pig tails
1 lemon (juice)
4 sprigs thyme
2 scallions (chopped)
1 pimento pepper (chopped)
1 small onion (sliced)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups diced pumpkin
8 okra (ochro) chopped
1/2 lb baby spinach (chopped)
2 cup par-boiled brown rice (wash)
3/4 teaspoon salt (see note)
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Notes! May I recommend that you watch the video below to follow along as much more about the recipe is discussed there. Get your butcher to cut the pig tails for you or boil them whole (full lengths) and when tender, cut into smaller pieces. Even though the salted pig tails were boiled, there will still be remnants of salt which they were cured in. With that in mind, adjust the salt later on.
Before we get started we’ll need to boil the salted pig tail pieces for 1 hr and 15 minutes (as explained in the video) to help tenderize them and to remove most of the salt it was cured in. I had my butcher cut them into 1 1/2 inch pieces, which I washed with the juice of a lemon. Then they were boiled for 30 minutes, that water was then discarded and a fresh batch of water was used for the remaining cooking time.
In a deep pan add the oil on a medium/low flame, followed by the pre-cooked pigtail pieces. The goal is to render out some of the fat and in the process, get some of that flavor to start with. After 3-4 minutes add the onion, thyme, black pepper and scallions to the pan and cook for a further 4 minutes.
At this point we’ll add the diced pumpkin (squash will work as well) and okra to the pot.
We’ll follow this up with the washed and chopped spinach. It will look like a lot, however it will wilt down. Cook for 5 minutes.
I used par-boiled brown rice (washed). Add and stir well.
You’ll then add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil.
I chose to float the Scotch Bonnet pepper as I wanted the flavors from the oils in the skin and not the raw heat. The goal is to NOT break the pepper while cooking, and fish it out at the end. If you want the finished spinach rice with a kick, you may chop the pepper and add it.
20 minutes later (cooked on a medium low heat) and it’s time to taste and add the salt if necessary. At this point I shut the stove off, placed the lid on the pot and allowed the residual heat to finish cooking things.
About 6 minutes later it was ready to be served. While I used salted pig tails, you may use salted beef or smoked turkey with similar results.
As explained in the video, depending on the type of rice you use, the amount of liquid you’ll need will differ as well as the cook time. White rice cooks quicker.