Stew Peas with Pigs Tail is the epitome of my childhood.
Sure you can have it with salt beef, pigs tail and salt beef, even with vegetables as a no meat option. But Stew peas with pigs tail is where it is at for me.
It symbolizes Saturday’s at my grandparent’s house where all the grand kids would congregate in the early afternoon, run around, and then eat a plate of stew peas with pigs tail and fluffy white rice.
Ideally, you want to start by soaking the peas over night. More often than not I forget and just put the peas in a pressure cooker with a clove of garlic until soft.
The garlic I’ve heard is supposed to help soften the peas..I have no idea if this is true…but it tastes good so I go with it anyway. A lot of cooking techniques passed down may not have a full explanation but you learn them, do them and pass them on as a part of how the dish is done.
In another pot I put the pigs tail to boil. These are salted and so they need to have the water changed 2-3 times depending on where you get yours. After the second time of throwing off the salty water and adding fresh water to boil, I take a small piece of the cooked pigs tail and give it a try. It is supposed to be salty but not send you running for a glass of water. If it’s still too salty, add fresh water and boil again.
Once tender, cut the pigstail in chunks at the joints of the tail.
Add the pigs tail to your pot of peas and allow it to boil for a few minutes,
While peas and pigs tail are happily boiling together, it will get thicker and it’s time to , get the seasoning ready. These will include onion, escallion, garlic, thyme, pimento seeds (also known as all spice) and of course a scotch bonnet pepper.
Cut the seasoning up and add to the pot EXCEPT THE PEPPER These – are – very – hot!
If you know your pepper is not as hot as it should be, go ahead and cut a few pieces and add it. A nice hot scotchie though should be placed in the pot, and the flavour will nicely makes it’s way through everything.
For a little heat, you can use a knife and just pierce the pepper once or twice before adding. A little salt may be added, but it is best to allow the stew peas to cook for a while before adding this so you know exactly what impact the pigstail has on the entire dish.
Once the seasonings have been allowed to simmer together for a while, remove some of the peas from the pot and mash them together with some of the liquid.
Add this paste back to the pot, stir and then add your coconut milk.
The milk from grated coconut is best…but let’s face it, who has time for that these days.
Although it was a duty of mine which I am sure was meant to keep me busy, I much prefer to use the tinned or powdered milk. To give it an extra kick, I drizzle a little coconut oil to enhance the flavour since I am not using the grated coconut (and don’t plan to any time soon)
Allow this to simmer for a few more minutes as the coconut milk, mashed peas and seasonings get a chance to get to know each other.
Before you know it your stew peas will be done. The mashed peas will give it the rich body it needs, and the longer you cook it the thicker it will get. If it is getting too thick for your liking, just add a bit of water stir and allow it to come backup to temperature.
On this day I fried some ripe plantain I had in the kitchen to eat with it. Unlike green plantains which are great pressed and fried (recipe here), the sweetness ripe plantains have, pair nicely with the salty pigs tail.
I hope you enjoy this childhood favorite of mine, that is still a dish I enjoy most on a Saturday. A pot of this can feed a few friends or who you may have over or, you can make just enough to warm your heart and belly.