Pepperpot – A Gift from Our Indigenous Peoples

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Pepperpot has graced the tables and satisfied the stomachs of all races and classes of people on a wide variety of occasions – from Christmas season to the everyday grind. It is a gift from our indigenous brothers and sisters who have taught us the amazing preservative properties of casareep – which is also a food product of the indigenous peoples.

The main ingredients of pepperpot are the meat of your choice (beef, chicken, pork etc) and casareep. You can choose one type of meat or a combination of two or more.

Because of the amazing preservative properties of casareep, the pepperpot can remain unspoilt without refrigeration for weeks or even months with just a simple onetime reheating every 24 hours and without the need for refrigeration. Yes! That’s how powerful the preservative properties of casareep are! Personally, I wouldn’t want to keep it in the pot for more than two weeks without washing out the pot and starting afresh – but if you don’t contaminate the pot, it can be preserved for months.

If you are going to preserve the pepperpot for any length of time, you should bear in mind the following important points.

  1. Do not dip a dirty spoon into the pepperpot after you have cooked it. Use a clean spoon everytime – one that was carefully washed and dried. Be careful to not let your fingers touch the spoon that will go into the pepperpot.
  2. Do not let any contaminants such as rice or bread or any other foodstuff fall into the pepperpot as this too could cause it to spoil.
  3. You must reheat the pepperpot once every 24 hours – thoroughly. While you do not want to boil it over, you need to reheat it thoroughly. Here’s the key. Put the pot on the stove with high heat until steam starts rising from the top of the pot. When the steam starts to rise, turn the heat down to low and leave it to steam for 25 minutes with the cover on. This process will ensure that the food remains unspoiled for the next 24 hours.

Pepperpot is an amazing dish and aside from being scrumptious, it goes well with a wide variety of other foods: bread, rice, provisions etc.

With that being said, here’s a simple recipe explaining how to make pepperpot.

Ingredients:

4 pounds of cow’s meat. Cow heel, tale, face are most ideal for making pepperpot since the normal flesh part of the cow will loosen to threads when cooked as pepperpot. The skin of cow’s neck is also a good ingredient for making pepperpot. A mixture of heel and tale is ideal.

Wash meat with a little bit of water. You may use lime or vinegar to wash the meat if you feel it’s necessary – depending on the state of the meat.

2 pieces of ginger. (thumb size). Grate or blend the ginger.

Two sticks of cinnamon spice. (about 2 inches long).

12 pieces of clove.

Seasoning: A cupful of chipped celery (not compressed) (about 4 branches of celery)

1 bulb of garlic.

Pepper to suit your taste.

Here’s an option: blend with a half pint water: one bulb of peeled garlic, 4 branches of celery, 2 pieces of ginger, and about 5 whole pepper (bit) then add it to the meat.

Do not put onion or shallots in the pepperpot. These seasonings have tendency to spoil the pot.

Orange peel: orange peel of half an orange. Please note: you cannot use fresh orange peel: If necessary. Put the orange peel in the sun to dry for a day or two.

Take the pot, throw in the orange skin, spice and clove into the empty pot. Take the washed beef and place it on top of the orange peel, spice and clove. Now take the blended ingredients: ginger, garlic, pepper and celery and pour it on top of the beef.

Note: You may use a pepperpot or a normal pot in making pepperpot. However, a normal pot will take longer for the beef to soften. A pressure pot is a better option since it also locks the ingredients into the pot airtight.

Level the beef in the pot and throw water to slightly cover the beef. This is an important step. The water should just cover the beef by a quarter of an inch.

Now add Cassava Casareep: 1/4 of a pint or a little over. Pour it over the ingredients in the pot.

Note that some casareep are mild (tastes like marmite) while some are bitter. The bitter ones are thicker and blacker. If you lean it, it takes longer to come out of the bottle. Mild casareep flows easier. Mild casareep is preferred to make pepperpot.

Now light the stove and put the pot on the fire. (You can also put the pot on fire at an ealier stage before adding casareep and water).

Do not stir the pot because you want the ingredients at the bottom to release their flavor into the pot.

Put the cover on the pressure pot and leave to cook for five whistles of the pepperpot (about 25 to 30 minutes on a new pressure pot). This is soft beef from a young cow. If you have harder beef from an older cow, you should give it ten whistles (about 1 hour).

Now turn off the stove and allow the pot to cool down. Open the pot and stir the ingredients. Taste the pepperpot. If the pepperpot is bitter, you can add one pot spoon of sugar or to suit your taste. If the pepperpot is not bitter, you can add just two tablespoons of sugar. Add one tablespoon of salt. Taste and if necessary increase the salt. Add salt with caution as you cannot undo adding salt. Now stir the ingredients before closing the pot and putting back on the fire for about 20 minutes more (about 4 whistles).

Now your pepperpot is ready to eat, but it tastes much better after 4 days.

Note: After cooking, you should leave the pepperpot to cure for about 4 days before eating. After this time period the pepperpot develops a better taste.

Note: If the pepperpot has spoit, you will see tiny bubbles at the top. In earlier stages of spoiling, you may not see bubbles, but the sauce will become slimy.

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