Pepperpot, a flavorful stewed meat dish cherished in Guyana and the Caribbean, is traditionally enjoyed on Christmas morning, featuring warm notes of sweet orange peel and spices like cloves and cinnamon. However, you can prepare and savor this version whenever you wish to celebrate. What sets it apart is the key ingredient, cassareep, a sauce derived from the cassava root.There's no substitute, so planning and sourcing it online or from a Caribbean speciality store is advisable. Scotch bonnets can be a suitable alternative if you can't find wiri wiri peppers. Above all, be sure not to overlook the essential accompaniments of thick slices of white bread, roti, or rice, perfect for soaking up the delectable gravy.
For the Green Seasoning:
- 1 bunch of thyme with stems removed
- 1 bunch of basil including leaves and tender stems
- ½ bunch of parsley including leaves and tender stems
- 10 to 12 scallions chopped
- 1 whole head of garlic peeled
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 3 to 4 wiri wiri peppers or 1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper
For the Pepperpot:
- 4 pounds of bone-in stew meat oxtail, beef chuck, goat, or mutton, cut into 3-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers chopped (adjust to your desired level of spiciness)
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 cup of cassareep
- ¼ cup of brown sugar dark or light, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon of whole cloves
- 3 medium cinnamon sticks
- Peel from 1 medium orange
- 4 scallions cut into 4-inch lengths
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch optional, for thickening
- Bread roti, and rice, for serving
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor to prepare the green seasoning. Blend the mixture, adding a few tablespoons of water at a time, until it forms a thick purée. You should have about 3 cups of green seasoning. Any extra can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Season the meat with ¼ cup of green seasoning, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Allow the meat to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the marinated meat to the pot, leaving any excess marinade behind. Brown the meat in batches, then transfer it to a plate.
- If needed, add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Sauté the Scotch bonnets and onion until they become translucent, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Incorporate the cassareep, brown sugar, grated ginger, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, scallions, and bay leaf. Return the browned meat and any juices from the plate to the pot, and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Lid the pot, transfer it to the oven, and cook for 2 to 2½ hours, keeping it covered until the meat becomes tender. Ensure to skim off as much fat from the surface as possible.
- Remove the meat from the pot. Once it has cooled sufficiently to handle, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a separate bowl.
- Gently pour the reserved liquid back into the pot and bring it to a boil.
- For those who desire a thicker stew more rapidly, you can create a slurry by mixing cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water in a cup until well combined. Add this slurry to the pot and stir until the mixture thickens to the point where it coats the back of a wooden spoon. You may need to extend the boiling time slightly to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Finally, return the meat to the pot. Alternatively, you can skip the cornstarch step and prepare the soup in advance, refrigerating it for up to 3 days until ready to reheat and serve.
- Serve with your choice of bread, roti, or rice.