By Chris De La Rosa
Cook-up, or cook-up rice, is one of those classic one-pot Caribbean meals Mom would usually make on a Saturday, when she didn’t cook a soup.
However, Mom’s usually came loaded with chicken, and beef or salted meats, but, in this version, I like skipping the meat, without sacrificing flavors for an iconic meal — served HOT!
Important! If doing this recipe gluten-free, please go through the entire list of ingredients, to make sure they meet with your specific gluten-free dietary needs — especially the veg stock you use.
1 medium onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 sprigs thyme
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions (chopped)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (diced)
1 carrot (cut into 1/2 cm wheels)
3/4 cup red beans (from a can – rinsed)
1 teaspoon turmeric
10 okra (1/2 inch chop)
1 large sweet potato (cubed)
1 1/2 cups squash (or pumpkin \ cubed)
2 cups long grain par-boiled brown rice
2 cups spinach
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 cups veg stock
1 teaspoon salt (adjust)
2 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
Heat oil in a deep, wide pan on a medium flame, then add the onion, garlic, thyme, scallions and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds unless you want it spicy) and carrot, then stir well, add the beans and cook on low for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the turmeric, turn the heat to medium, and add the okra, and stir. In now goes the sweet potato and squash (pumpkin will work too). At every point, when you add ingredients to the pot, stir well.
Go in with the washed rice, and mix. Fold in the spinach, along with the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot, as there will be some caramelization (flavors) that develop at the bottom of the pot. Add the salt and bring to a boil.
As far as “washing” the rice is concerned, this is done to remove extra starch and grit, as a result of the process of taking off the husk off the grain. So we’ll cover the rice with cool water in a bowl, then massage with our hands, discard that water and repeat until that water is somewhat clear. Or rinse under running water in a strainer, until the water runs clear – that’s “washed” rice.
Keep the lid on when it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to fully cook and go plump. For a more creamy cook-up, stir the pot a bit and the rice will release more of its starch in the process.
25 minutes later, taste for salt, and adjust… leave it ‘wet’ or you can remove the lid, and burn off the liquid, which remains. Toss in the parsley and you’re pretty much done.
Note that the residual heat on a heavy pot will continue to cook the rice and thicken it up — after you turn off the stove.
For this classic dish, I like having a side of Tomato Choka as a side or condiment, for an extraordinary vegan meal.
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/.