By Chris De La Rosa
With an abundance of fresh Callaloo (aka spinach or chorai bhagi) in my garden last summer, and with the many requests for a version of the classic Jamaican Callaloo With Saltfish (salted cod) — without the saltifsh — I’ve been playing around with a few variations.
I’m a HUGE fan of salted cod and NOT a fan of turkey, but I had to admit that this recipe was simply delicious. You may also use ground beef, chicken or pork, if you so desire — with similar results.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic (diced or crushed)
1 small onion
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (sliced)
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
4 sprigs thyme
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 grape tomatoes
juice of 1/2 lemon (I used red wine vinegar)
Important! If doing this recipe gluten-free, please go through the entire list of ingredients to ensure they meet with your specific gluten-free dietary needs.
Prep the Jamaican callaloo and set aside. Basically, I only used the leaves and not the stems, as I would normally do. I washed them thoroughly, then rolled them into a sort of cigar shape, and sliced about 1 centimeter-thick ribbons (watch the video below). I must stress that you wash the leaves really well, and it won’t hurt to give the chopped leaves a second wash. Do drain.
Since ground turkey is very lean, I added the oil to a heavy pan and tossed in the turkey on a low/medium flame. The idea is to break it up as it’s cooks through (I used a wooden spoon). It took about 10 to15 minutes to get it fully cooked and broken up into tiny pieces.
I then turned the heat down to low, and added the onion, garlic, black pepper, scotch bonnet (no seeds, and do remember to wash your hands with soap and water after handling such peppers), parsley, thyme and allspice. Mix well and cook on low for 3-5 minutes.
It’s now time to start adding the prepared Jamaican callaloo (Chorai bhagi) to the pot. As you do, try to mix well. It may seem like too much for the pot, but it will wilt as it cooks down. By the way, the heat should be back up to medium at this point. Top with the salt and cover, to sort of steam-cook.
Remember to stir it every 4-5 minutes. It will spring its own natural juices. After about 25 minutes it will be fully cooked. Remove the lid, to burn off any remaining liquid (I didn’t have any) and adjust the salt to your own liking. Now top with the tomatoes, give it a stir and cover the pot – turn off the stove. Allow the residual heat to soften the tomato.
At this point, is also where I’d normally go in with some fresh lemon or lime juice, but I didn’t have any, so red wine vinegar went in instead. This helps to prevent any sort of itch, one can get at the back of the tongue with callaloo some times.
If you wanted to add a bit of creamed coconut or coconut milk, while it steam-cooked, that will add a lovely flavor to the entire dish. So there you go, Jamaican Callaloo with Turkey. Yea, traditionalists will be shaking their heads at this point – until they give it a try.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections globally every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource of Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.