Among the best issues about meals is that it could possibly unite individuals throughout cultures, languages, states and even nations. That is very true for Thanksgiving feasts the place in a non-pandemic world, households like mine can be gathering round lengthy dinner tables, debating over which aunt makes the most effective mac and cheese. As somebody with extra cousins, aunts and uncles than I can bodily rely, I’ll undoubtedly miss indulging within the huge quantity of dishes ready with the kind of TLC that I can solely aspire to realize.
However earlier than the desk is ready and everybody’s seated, the true magic begins within the kitchen through the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. Yearly, I’d discover my aunt going to work on her well-known (to me no less than) rice and peas alongside my grandma and mother within the kitchen.
I knew after the primary time I attempted this Caribbean staple it needed to make an look at each future get-together. Not solely does an enormous bowl of it style superb, but it surely additionally lets me expertise my aunt’s tradition and upbringing by a dish that’s particular to her. And on this time of separation, there’s nothing I would like greater than meals that jogs my memory of household.
This 12 months although, as touring by airplane comes with an added layer of hysteria and uncertainty, she gained’t be flying into my house state of Georgia for the vacations, which prompted the concept to attempt to recreate the dish myself in my tiny Brooklyn residence. To assist me, I known as up Andre Fowles, three-time Meals Community Chopped champion and chef at Miss Lily’s, certainly one of my favourite Caribbean spots in New York.
Fowles was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica round aunts, grandmothers and a number of prolonged household. His ardour for cooking grew resulting from his grandmother’s Sunday meals, which after all included rice and peas.
“She does not measure any components and it might all the time style and look the identical each single Sunday,” he says. “We might sometimes eat rice and peas each Sunday with no matter meat and greens that have been out there.”
Earlier than taking a swing at hopefully doing justice to my aunt’s cooking and Fowles’ recipe, I did some analysis on the origins of this standard dish and found that it’s derived from the Ghanaian dish, waakye, which generally consists of pink beans or black-eyed peas, rice, and millet leaves.
As a result of it’s such a flexible aspect dish, rice and peas will be paired with actually something. I’ve solely eaten it with conventional Caribbean meats like jerk hen and oxtail, however Fowles says it additionally goes properly with curry goat, grilled snapper, roasted hen and even roasted veggies.
Because the true Southern gal that I’m, I’ve a gentle spot for recipes handed down and impressed by grandmothers, so it was a no brainer that I needed to get the small print from Fowles on make one primarily based on certainly one of my favourite meals.
Perfecting the “peas”
One vital factor to notice is that though the dish is known as rice and peas, the normal Caribbean approach of cooking it makes use of pink kidney beans. However in case you choose pigeon peas, you should utilize these as properly.
Relying on how a lot time you’ve gotten earlier than dinner — or how hungry you’re — you’ll be able to both soak your peas in a single day or boil them the day of. Since I used to be planning on making this for my Sunday meal, I made a decision to soak them Saturday night time to maximise my time. Then, you’ll wish to prepare dinner them for roughly Half-hour till they’re barely tender.
It ought to come as no shock that the pea inventory must be seasoned. After they’re cooked about midway, it’s best to begin seasoning the water with garlic, chopped ginger, recent scallions, recent thyme and pimenta berries or allspice.
Fowles suggests solely including half a teaspoon of allspice as you don’t wish to add an excessive amount of and overpower your rice and peas. It’s higher to have so as to add extra later than be unable to take some out when it’s too late. You’ll then let the peas end cooking for an additional quarter-hour and at that time, you’ll add within the magic of coconut milk.
“Sometimes we use recent coconut milk in Jamaica, however truthfully since I’ve been in New York, I haven’t used a lot recent coconut milk,” Fowles says. “I simply get it from the can and that works completely high-quality as properly as a result of it’s exhausting to make use of recent stuff right here as there’s an excessive amount of processing.”
When you see all of the components coming collectively in your pot, you’ll be able to then add in your salt and one complete scotch bonnet pepper that’s inexperienced and never too ripe.
I needed to search a bit to seek out recent scotch bonnet peppers because the bigger grocery shops close to me didn’t carry them, however I ultimately discovered some at a Caribbean market.
“You wish to get that fruitiness from the scotch bonnet as a result of lots of people suppose that scotch bonnet peppers are solely in regards to the warmth but it surely’s a extremely lovely taste that comes from the inexperienced chile that is extra fruity and actually pronounced, and that provides your inventory a extremely lovely taste,” Fowles says.
After you end cooking the peas and the inventory is seasoned to your liking with salt and spices, you’ll be able to take away the scotch bonnet pepper and pimenta seeds in case you’re utilizing the entire berries as an alternative of the bottom allspice.
Prepping and cooking the rice
To actually take your rice and peas to the subsequent taste degree, use jasmine rice over common lengthy grain white rice.
“In Jamaica, we use lengthy grain rice however I discovered that jasmine rice has an additional taste and it undoubtedly enhances the flavour of the rice and peas,” Fowles says.
However despite the fact that it’s a extra aromatic rice, you continue to wish to be sure to wash it three to 4 instances to take away the surplus starch. After washing it, drain it right into a strainer and add the rice to your seasoned inventory along with your peas.
After an extra 25-Half-hour of cooking your mixed combination on low, you’ll then have an ideal pot of rice and peas!
Recipe for Jamaican Rice and Peas
**Makes 4 servings**
What You’ll Want
- 2 cups of Jasmine rice
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 complete inexperienced scotch bonnet (unbroken)
- 1 teaspoon of recent ginger (minced)
- 1 sprig of recent thyme
- ¼ cup of scallions, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 can of pink kidney beans, drained and rinsed (14 ounce)
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- 10 complete allspice berries or 1/2 teaspoon of floor allspice
1. Rinse rice below chilly working water 3-4 instances to take away extra starch, then pour
right into a strainer to empty.
2. In a medium-large saucepan, add the kidney beans, water, allspice, complete inexperienced scotch bonnet, thyme, garlic, ginger and salt. Simmer over medium warmth for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk, butter and scallion and permit to simmer below low warmth for an extra 4-5 minutes.
4. Take away the scotch bonnet pepper (watch out to not bruise)
5. Add the rice then cowl and permit to prepare dinner over low for 15-20 minutes till all of the liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.