Monday, 13 February 2017

Caribbean Style Slow Cooker Black Eye Peas and Ham

This dish is based on the Caribbean style of cooking “Stew Peas”. I would eat this many times over as a child but the older one gets, and the many dietary restrictions that are imposed for good health, I have modified this to make it lighter, and less “heavy”, so more easily digested. I have cut way back on the amount of coconut milk/cream that was used when I was younger, and also not included Pigs Tail or Salt Beef that were so important in the traditional method of cooking. A “must have” in those days! Instead, I opted to use seasoned pork butt in place of those two. Because of this, the dish is not strictly vegetarian. I do not use canned tomatoes, opting instead to use fresh, ripe tomatoes.
1 lb black eye peas (dry)
32ozs box/tin chicken stock
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1 ½ cups diced ham
1 tablespoon meat seasoning of your choice
¾ lb pork butt, cut into small cubes and seasoned with the meat seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
3 Roma tomatoes, pureed
1 ½ tablespoons tomato chili sauce (any type, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian Sambal Oelek)
1 teaspoon Grace jerk seasoning
1/3 cup coconut milk
4-6 allspice berries
4-6 sprigs thyme
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1-2 large carrots
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon oil
Baby pak choi or kale leaves
1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cut into large cubes
Chicken bouillon cubes of your choice
1.      Season the pork butt cubes with the meat seasoning, Worcester sauce, sweet paprika, and jerk seasoning. Marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
2.      Soak the black-eye peas according to the directions on the package (I soak overnight in water with a pinch of baking soda added. Drain of the water and discard. Rinse the beans well and put in a 6 quart slow cooker.
3.      Finely chop the onion and garlic. Puree the tomatoes.
4.      Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Fry the seasoned pork butt cubes until browned. Add the chopped ham,  chopped onions and garlic, and fry until onions become translucent. Add the tomato puree, thyme, allspice berries, coconut milk, and tomato garlic chili sauce. Fry all for a minute of two longer then add mixture to the soaked and rinsed beans in the 6 quart slow cooker.

5.      Add just enough chicken stock to cover the beans, and float a whole green habanero chili (if you are using it) on top.

6.      Cook on High for 4 hours or until the beans are cooked and are easily mashed with a fork or spoon. Half way in the cooking, remove the Habanero (WHOLE, do not burst it), add the kale leaves or Pak Choi, diced carrots, and pumpkin chunks.

Cover and continue cooking until done.
7.      Once the beans are cooked, transfer the mixture from the slow cooker to a large pot, frying pan or wok. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste, adding more of the meat seasoning, chicken bouillon cubes, salt and pepper. Cook this mixture on medium high to high, stirring constantly so as the mixture thickens, it does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Reduce to desired thickness, seasoning to taste as you go along. Serve with white rice and fried plantain!

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