Nothing summons a sense of home quite like the scent of something familiar and delicious cooking on the stove. For those seeking some respite for both body and soul, we’re gathering our favorite Caribbean comfort food recipes. This week, we hop around the Caribbean and pick out a menu of show-stopping dinner recipes, from roasted meats to cheesy sides.
Barbadian Stewed Lamb Chops
This hearty Bajan (Barbadian) stew is very popular made using lamb chops or pork chops. Barbadian Stewed Lamb provides a very satisfying meal for lunch or dinner served with mashed potatoes or rice and steamed vegetables. The great thing is that this comfort food recipe combines basic seasonings that can be found easily in any kitchen.
- 4 lamb chops, skin-on preferred
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 medium onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup sweet peppers, diced
- 2 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme (or substitute 1 tbsp dried thyme)
- Pepper sauce
- A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- A few dashes of angostura bitters
- 1 can (14 fl. oz.) diced tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- Rub pork chops with salt and let sit for 10 minutes, then wash and pat dry.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat and then add pork chops. Brown on both sides (about 10 minutes).
- Remove pork chops from pan, set aside.
- Sauté the onions until they begin to brown, then add the garlic and sweet peppers. Sauté for a couple more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, nutmeg, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, Angostura bitters, water, and pork chops.
- Cover and simmer over low heat until the chops are tender, about one to two hours. Add more water during cooking if necessary.
Adapted from Totally Barbados
Puerto Rican Pernil
Slow cooked, moist, tender and juicy with a flavorful, crispy skin. This classic Puerto Rican recipe for pernil or roasted pork shoulder is so mouthwatering, so good, it might make you forget about bacon!
- 7 lbs. pork shoulder (with fat)
- 9 garlic cloves (or 9 tsp garlic powder or ground garlic)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp crushed oregano
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp salt
- Mash the garlic together with salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil and mix well.
- Wash the meat and pat dry.
- With a sharp knife cut the fat away from the meat, leaving an edge attached and keeping it all in one piece.
- Season the side of the fat that goes over the meat with a bit of the seasoning blend.
- Make very deep slits all over the meat and season the meat thoroughly. Re-cover the meat with the fat and sprinkle it with salt.
- Refrigerate the shoulder covered with plastic wrap for 24 hours to marinate.
- Get the pork back to room temperature before cooking (about one hour).
- Place in a deep pan with the fat side up. There will be a lot of grease so use a pan at least 2″ deep. Do NOT cover with foil as the skin will not crisp.
- Preheat the oven to 400º and roast for one hour, then reduce temperature to 300º for about 4 hours or so – DO NOT TURN MEAT. When the meat is done, you can prick it on the side with a fork to see if it shreds. If the skin is not crispy enough, then leave it in the oven and raise the temperature to 400º until it is (another 15 minutes or so).
- Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest on the counter for about 20-30 minutes before carving.
- To carve, remove the skin completely and set aside. Carve the meat, cut the crispy skin into pieces and spread over the meat. Enjoy!
Keshi Yena (Aruban Stuffed Cheese Shell)
Keshi Yena is a popular dish throughout the Dutch Caribbean and especially in Aruba. When the Dutch brought Edam cheese to the Caribbean, locals found a way to transform the shell of the hollowed out cheese into this delicious casserole. A sautéed mix of tender shredded chicken with sweet raisins, spicy peppers, salty olives and capers, and a tangy blend of sauces are all wrapped up in a mouthwatering cheese shell for a meal that hits every taste bud.
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small Edam cheese (2 – 2 1/2 lbs.)
- 2 lbs. cooked chicken, shredded
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced olives
- 1 tbsp. capers
- 1 tbsp. parsley
- 1/4 hot pepper, minced (or hot sauce to taste)
- 1/2 cup raisins and chopped prunes
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp. ketchup
- 2 tbsp. mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 5 eggs
- Slice the top off the cheese, reserve. Gently scoop out the inside, leaving a 1/4″ – 1/2″ shell. Soak the empty shell in hot water and peel away the red wax.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Heat butter in a large pan and sauté the remaining ingredients, except the eggs. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat. Whisk 4 eggs and stir into the pan.
- Spoon everything into the cheese shell and replace the reserved top. Beat remaining egg and brush over the top of the cheese to seal it.
- Grease a shallow baking dish and fill it with about 1 inch of water. Place the stuffed cheese in the dish and bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- Serve piping hot, cut into wedges.
Adapted from Arecetas
Trinidadian Pumpkin Choka (Talkari)
Trinidadian Pumpkin Choka or Talkari is a traditional Indian seasoned and mashed pumpkin dish served as a side. It often accompanies “sada roti”, a Trinidadian flat bread similar to naan or pita bread. One of the special ingredients common to both Trinidadian recipes and traditional Indian food is a spice called Geera. Enjoy!
- 1 lb. pumpkin cut into 1″ squares
- 2 pimentos crushed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 onion finely diced
- 1 bouillon cube (optional)
- 1 tbsp. curry (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 small slice of hot pepper
- 1/2 tsp. geera
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat oil and saute garlic until translucent.
- Add the hot pepper and the rest of seasonings, bouillon cube and geera. Add the pumpkin and stir.
- Add water and leave to simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes.
- Add salt and allow to reduce to a semi thick consistency.
Dominican Sancocho called ‘El Sancocho de Siete Carnes’ or stew of seven meats is certainly the most treasured Dominican culinary delight. Reserved for special occasions, its preparation is time-consuming as it contains many ingredients, however, it is well worth the effort.
Traditionally beef was the only meat in Dominican Sancocho. The seven meat version is the more extravagant option for big celebrations. This is a great comfort food and an example of the thin line between soups and stews in some cultures.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
- 1 lb stew beef (flank, chuck or round)
- 1 lb goat meat
- 1 lb pork sausage (longaniza)
- 1 lb pork for stewing (belly or chump end)
- 1 lb chicken
- 1 lb pork ribs
- 1 lb bones from a smoked ham
- Juice of two limes
- 1 tsp chopped cilantro or parsley
- ½ tsp powdered oregano
- 1 tbsp mashed garlic
- 1½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp canola oil
- 2.5 quarts water
- ½ lb white yam cut into 1″ pieces
- ½ lb calabaza squash cut into 1″ pieces
- ½ lb malanga (coco) cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 unripe plantains, 2 cut into 1″ pieces
- ½ lb cassava cut into 1″ pieces
- 2 corn cobs cut into ½” slices (optional)
- Cut all the meat into bite-size pieces.
- Rinse all the meat except for the pork sausage with lime juice.
- Place all the meat except for the pork sausage into bowls and season with coriander, oregano, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. of salt ensuring all pieces are coated with the spices.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour to marinate.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the beef, stirring until browned.
- Cover and and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add a few tablespoons of water if it looks dry to prevent burning.
- Add the pork and simmer for 15 minutes adjusting water if necessary.
- Add the rest of the meat to the pot except for the chicken and simmer for 15 minutes, keep adding water as needed.
- Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add 2 quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the yam, calabaza, malanga and the two cut plantains.
- Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Grate the remaining plantain to make it into a pulp and add to the pot.
- Add all remaining ingredients except for the salt.
- Simmer until all ingredients are cooked through, adding water as it evaporates and stirring frequently.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Serve hot with white rice, slices of avocado, and finish with hot sauce.
- The meats cook for different lengths of time for maximum tenderness and flavor. Please pay attention to the order in which meat is added.
Adapted from Aunt Clara’s Kitchen