Saturday, July 10, 2010
Guyanese Pepperpot Stew with Dumplings
I changed the recipe some. Most significantly I was unable to find cassareep, but I will be on the lookout for it for the rest of my life. And when I find it, I will make this again to find out how it was actually supposed to taste. Cassareep is said to look like molasses, but has more of a pure burnt sugar taste instead of the minerally-medicinal flavor. I don't know of any Caribbean markets in Providence, so I looked in the international aisles of the Stop-n-Shop where I found corn husks. In the most Caribbean section, I found a container of molasses next to a container of something called "Burnt Sugar," which I hadn't heard of. The label boasted of a true West Indian taste. I thought this might be a suitable substitute for cassareep. I later regretted my decision when I realized that it was basically a sugar syrup with caramel color, which isn't the best thing for your health. It's no longer in my cupboard. I used half of what the recipe called for and made up the balance with honey.
I simmered 3 1/2 pounds of beef shoulder with a quarter-pound of cooked bacon in a cinnamon-clove-thyme-infused broth until the beef was tender. Then I added in a whole chicken, cut into pieces. When everything was cooked, I removed the meat and added the dumplings. I think these might be my favorite type of dumplings - a simple batter spooned into simmering broth. They fluff as they cook and all of the flavor seeps into every nook and cranny.
Why this Christmas dish is featured in the July section I don't know... perhaps because of the association with barbecue. I'd love to make this in December. Perhaps I will have found cassareep by then.