I grew up eating breadfruit in a number of ways, but only as an adult when we visited Tobago some years ago, did I have my first delicious encounter with breadfruit pie. It was a long day of driving around the island, when we stopped at Jemma’s Seaview Kitchen for a late lunch. The stewed fish with this amazing breadfruit pie hit the spot and with the soothing sound of the waves crashing just feet away.. the ‘ritis’ kicked in. Since that day I vowed to come up with a recipe for breadfruit pie to equal what we enjoyed that memorable day.
1 breadfruit (about 4lbs)
1.5 cups evaporated milk
2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
1 cup grated “medium” cheddar
1/2 cup Monterrey jack Cheese
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper diced fine
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* salt the water when cooking the breadfruit (1/4 teaspoon)
Notes: Top with bread crumbs (optional).. reserve 1/4 cup of cheddar to top the mix before going in the oven. You may need an extra 1/4 cup of liquid (milk, cream or water) to thin the cheese sauce if it goes too thick. You can use your favorite type of cheese to personalize this dish if you wanted. Remember to wear gloves when handling scotch bonnet peppers and wash your hands with soap immediately after. Do NOT include any seeds as that’s where most of the heat is.
We’ve got to pre-boil the breadfruit before we can assemble it in the pie for baking. Cut off the stem part, then rest that flat side down on your counter and cut into wedges. Then peel the skin off with a potato peeler or sharp pairing knife. The final step is to remove the sort of spongy center (almost like the continuation of the stem), so you’re left with a wedge that all breadfruit meat.
Rinse with cool water, place in a deep pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, salt and allow to cook until it’s tender. It will take about 20 minutes and as it boils you’ll notice it will change color (a bit darker). To be sure it’s fully cooked, pierce with a sharp knife and make sure there’s no resistance. Drain and set aside to cool a bit.
In another sauce pan heat the butter on low heat, then as it melts add the flour and cook for about 4-5 minutes. It’s important that you constantly whisk it, so the flour does not clump or burn. Now add the evaporated milk, turn up the heat to medium and whisk. Add all the other ingredients (except the breadfruit.. remember to save back a bit of cheese for topping) and cook for a couple minutes. Until you have a thick, but smooth sauce. Remember to add a bit more liquid if it’s overly thick.
It’s now time to assemble the breadfruit pie. Slice each wedge of cooked breadfruit about 1/4 inch thick, then place a layer onto a greased cooking dish. Add a layer of cheese, then another layer of sliced breadfruit and top with the remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle on the grated cheese we reserved.
Place on the middle rack of a pre-heated 350F oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Since I used a shallow baking dish I placed it onto a cookie sheet, so it would be easy to remove from the oven and if any cheese bubbled over, it wouldn’t cause a mess in my oven. After 30 minutes I turned on my broiler and let it go for 2-3 minutes to give it that wicked golden touch on top.
Allow it to cool for a couple minute to really set, then dig in. This breadfruit pie would be enough to serve 5-6 people as a side dish. I assure you that this one will be a hit with your family. The lovely texture or the breadfruit, combined with that wicked cheese sauce we made and the slight zing for the scotch bonnet peppers, will have you wanting more. The first time I put this one together it took me right back to that day we had lunch in Tobago… the only thing missing was the sound of the waves and cool ocean breeze.