Saturday, September 19, 2015

CALLALOO--WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?


Sometimes I just run across something that sends me in a direction I was not even thinking of going in, like the chance purchase of callaloo greens in an international market. They caught my eye when I was looking for fresh curry leaves, and I just KNEW I wanted to make them.

I have been familiar with the dish of the same name, which is Jamaican and also Trinidadian, and perhaps common in other cuisines as well. Many people in the states substitute kale or other greens for the callaloo greens, which is bitter and somewhat hearty in flavor and texture. I looked this dish up in some of my many many cookbooks and also watched some youtube videos to get the range and common notes for this dish. This is often made with fish, but I added chicken. If you eliminate the chicken here, you will have a great vegan recipe.

I decided to try making this with what I had on hand, so I opted for a Jamaican version, primarily because the spice profile was something I had in the cupboard. The following recipe is what I worked through and the spice blend, which I mixed myself, is a specific combination I found on line (I do not recall where). This will make more than you need for the recipe here, but it should keep just fine in the fridge).


Jamaican Callaloo

1 large onion, cut into wedges
3 Tbl of Jamaican curry powder (see recipe at the end of recipe to make your own, this is different than a generic curry powder off the shelf)
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp thyme
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, masked or minced as small as possible
5 or 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into slightly smaller pieces, but not chopped
¼ c vegetable oil
1 hot chile, like a jalapeno, kept whole
2 lbs chopped and cleaned fresh callaloo (the stems are good, too, but you need to peel the outer layer off of them as they are very tough)
1 cup of coconut cream or thick coconut milk, unsweetened

Serve with steamed rice and a dash or two of hot pepper sauce and chopped peanuts for garnish

In a large bowl, mix 3 Tbl of curry powder and toss with 1 large onion, sliced in wedges, 3 ribs celery, sliced, 1 additional tsp allspice, 2 additional tsp thyme, fresh if possible; about 1 inch knob of fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks or mashed, 5 to 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs. Set aside at room temperature for at least an hour. 


Heat oil in a deep cook pot, brown chicken mixture and cook until chicken is browned, and partially cooked and onion is translucent. 



You can simmer a whole unpunctured hot chile pepper in the broth, Add a little water if needed to keep spices from scorching. Remove hot pepper, the longer it stays in the hotter it will be though. 



Add in 2 lbs of cleaned and shredded fresh callaloo and stir and cook for about 15 minutes or so, until greens are tender and chicken is done to your liking. Add in about 1 cup coconut cream or thick coconut milk, unsweetened. 



Simmer until flavors mix. Add hot pepper sauce to taste. I garnished it with some peanuts i ground up in my spicy mortar.

Jamaican Curry Powder
Mix in a mortar/pestle and grind until the texture you want:
1 tsp black pepper
3 tsp coriander seed
3 tsp turmeric
2 tsp clove
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp allspice
3 tsp cumin
4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp red pepper flake
3 tsp yellow mustard seed

2 tsp star anise

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