I used to go to Notting Hill carnival every year. In my early years I spent most of it on the streets, whistle in mouth. As the years went by I began to get invited to pop in to the house of my Dad’s friends. The first couple of years I turned up late for a few hours with a mouldy crew of inappropriate friends in tow. By the time we had second child in tow it became an early and much needed refuge.
It was at Maurice and Virgina’s I first ate pepperpot.
A Guyanese dish. Unctuous and melt in the mouth. If I vist I’ll always ask for it.
I’ve yet to ask them for their exact recipe but here is mine.
- An oxtail - £6.49 a kilo in my local Halal butchers. I got a whole tail, £9.50s worth, I reckon about 1.2Kg. Cut into 1.5” slices
- Six belly pork strips from the local co-op, chopped into one inch pieces
- One Onion, diced
- Four cloves of Garlic, chopped
- One whole chilli (from my garden) - I’d be tempted to add two but my kids don’t like too much spice
- One dessert spoon of soft dark brown sugar
- Some salt
- Eight cloves
- Two cinnamon sticks
- Sprigs of Thyme
- Half a cup of Cassareep - an Amerindian spice/sauce/preserative
You CANNOT make Pepperpot without Cassareep.
Every couple of years I make a pilgramage to Thornton Heath, on the other side of the road, almost opposite the train station there is a shop that sells it. I buy at least two bottles, whatever they have. It’s a thick treacle, molasses like, but made from cassava root.
Bung it in a pot. I sweat the onions and sear the oxtail, but I’ve seen no other recipes that do this. In fact most recipes have garlic thrown in but no onion. Add enough water to cover, boil and simmer.
It needs cooking for at least three hours. You can eat it now but
Pepperpot is best if it’s kept going for a few more days. The Cassareep is a preservative. You can keep it and cook it up day after day. It gets better and better. The best pepperpot has been going for so long that the bones are soft and crumble and melt in your mouth.
I’ve just eaten a 3 day pepperpot, cooked and cooled on each day. It was good, but I’d give it another few days for perfection.
Serve it with rice.
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