By Chris De La Rosa
Here’s yet another classic way to put breadfruit to use, as our ancestors did.
I still recall the scent of the salted pigtails, stewing in freshly-made coconut milk, just before mom would load the pot with ‘full’ (meaning mature, but not ripe) breadfruit.
However, she would add a layer of baby dasheen bush leaves to the top, giving the dish more body and flavor, and allowing for better ‘steaming’.
4 lbs breadfruit (peeled, cored & cut into segments)
4 medium-sized sweet potatoes (cut in 1/2)
2 lbs salted pigtails (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
2 tablespoons Caribbean Green Seasoning (divided)
1 medium tomato (diced)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 scallion (diced)
5 sprigs thyme
4 slices ginger
4 cloves garlic (smashed)
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
4 bird’s eye peppers
1 tablespoon parsley (I finished it at the end with this)
1 lemon or lime (juice)
Wash the cut and salted pigtails (get your butcher to cut up the pigtails, as it can be tough), then put into a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rolling boil, and cook for 30-40 minutes. Then drain, rinse and set aside. This step helps to tenderize the pigtails and helps to remove some of the salt, it was cured in.
Peel the sweet potatoes and breadfruit in the meantime (watch the video below). Cut each sweet potato in half and, after coring the breadfruit, slice into thick wedges.
How to peel and core a breadfruit << Click To Watch The Video!
Leave the prepped sweet potatoes and breadfruit covered in water, so they don’t discolor.
The salted pigtails should be ready now (drained and cooled), so it’s time to season it with the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, black pepper, Caribbean Green Seasoning (1 tablespoon), onion and tomato. Mix well and get ready to stew.
In a larger heavy pot, heat the oil on a medium/high flame and add the sugar. It will melt, go frothy and (pay attention now, as you DON’T want it to go black) it will go amber in color. As soon as this happens, add the seasoned pig tails to the pot and stir.
Watch the video below, to follow along as this step can be a bit tricky. If you allow the sugar to go black.. STOP. Cool the pot, wash and start over.
Turn the heat down to low and put the lid on for 4-5 minutes (to allow the flavors to develop). Then remove the lid, crank up the heat and add the coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, as you add the pieces of the breadfruit and sweet potatoes (so you don’t have a vigorous boil going to potentially burn you). Try to coat everything with the rich coconut sauce, then add the scallions, bird’s eye pepper (I didn’t cut them, as I wanted the flavor from the skin and not more heat), garlic and scotch bonnet pepper.
Bring back to a boil, add the thyme and the remaining Caribbean Green Seasoning, then reduce to low (pot covered) and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Taste for salt and adjust. I didn’t have to add any, as the residual salt from the pig tails was enough for me. You will notice that the coconut milk wasn’t enough to completely cover the breadfruit, but by covering the pot, the steam created will help it go tender. You will need to stir it a couple times during cooking. It will fall apart a bit so try to be a bit gentle.
Top with the chopped parsley and get ready to enjoy a dish, which is hearty and VERY comforting to Caribbean people. Serve with a side salad and/or slices of avocado. Remove the bird’s eye peppers, before serving, unless you have someone who enjoys them.
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 for Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.