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Jamaican Stew Peas

Kwame Onwuachi

Lesson time 13 min

Jamaican comfort food at It’s finest. Kwame grew up eating this “pot of wonderful magic liquid” with his father: A stew dish with gungo peas (pigeon peas), red peas (kidney beans), salted meats, and coconut milk. Make a huge pot for the whole family to taste the love!

Students give this lesson an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

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– We have dried over here. $300. Dried peas, 200. That’s 305. – Perfect. – Thank you. – Thank you. – Take care. – Have a blessed day. – Hey everyone. Thank you for tuning in. So today, we’re gonna make classic stew peas. I grew up eating this with my father a lot. And It’s one of my favorite Jamaican dishes. So, I got these legumes at Coronation Market. So, I’m gonna pick through these first. So, you just want to go through, you know, take out things like this, anything that is not a bean. All right. I’m just gonna rinse this off. So, you just want to put this in the fridge for about 24 hours. And this is gonna soften up the beans and cut that cooking time by a quarter. So, I’m gonna just put this into the fridge. So, yesterday we soaked the peas. And today we’re gonna continue that by cooking them. We’re gonna make this beautiful stew. First thing we’re gonna do is cook down some aromatics. So I’m gonna grab an onion, ginger and garlic and chop that up. It’s always good to have things in place or we call it meson plus in the kitchen. So, now that my vegetables are chopped, I’m gonna sweat them with my pigtails. So in here, is kind of like the trifecta of meat that goes in stew peas. We have our pigtails that cook down. They’re very gelatinous. We have our ham hocks that have so much flavor and a little bit of smoke to it. And some salt beef. And the salt beef is like this beef that’s been brined in a saline solution. It can also just be packed in salt. It really tenderizes it and it gives the meat a really nice flavor. You can make this yourself but your local butcher should have some version of salted beef. So these pigtails are a little long. And now, you can ask your butcher to break them down for you into one inch pieces but I’m gonna cut them along the breaks in the bone. So what you wanna do is expand it a little bit and then just cut it like that. And you can leave the ends of them but I just wanna break these up. All right. We’re good. So, I’m gonna get a large Dutch pot which I like to cook everything in as you can see. Ugh, . It’s heavy. I’m gonna put this flame on high. I’m gonna add a little bit of Canola oil to this. Now for these pigtails and ham hocks and even salted beef, you can use a pressure cooker and then add it to your beans afterwards. I like everything to cook slowly. I think when you slow cook things you give it more time to develop some flavors. But you can get a lot of flavor out of a pressure cooker. So, It’s really up to you to decide what you wanna do. So now the oil’s hot, I’m gonna add my aromatics. And normally I would add salt at this point but we have so much salts in the beef that we’re not gonna do that. There’s gonna be a lot of natural flavors that come together in this dish, and we’re gonna season it closer to the end. So, I’m gonna add all my proteins to this and let it sweat together. All the salt in that beef is gonna start coming out and It’s gonna help this sweat down a little bit faster. So, I’m gonna cover this with chicken stock which is better than water. I always like to use stock instead of water whenever I’m cooking. You can see how gelatinous it is. It’s gonna get even more gelatinous when this cooks down together. So, if you don’t want to use meat you can just make the peas minus this. So I’m gonna add a sprig of thyme and I’m just gonna let this simmer. I’ll check on it in an hour and see if I can add my peas then. So, I’m gonna check on this meat and it looks beautiful. So I’m gonna put them in the separate pot. I’m gonna grab my beans that are already soaked. So, I’ve got pot right here. So, I’m gonna add my beans, some chicken stock, little bit of thyme, Scotch bonnet pepper, and some coconut milk. So, I’m gonna cook this for about 45 minutes. I’m gonna marry these two together and create the classic stew peas dish. I’m gonna check on this meat and it looks beautiful. This sauce that’s created in here, It’s gonna go so good with these peas and season them beautifully. The meat is just starting to fall off the bone. So, we’ll turn this down low and let it cook. So, these beans are really nice and tender. As you can see the coconut milk and the chicken stock is creating this beautiful gloss. I’m gonna add all of this tender meat to these stew peas and It’s gonna come together all beautifully. So, you can see the aromatics in here kind of stewed down and they’re so beautiful in velvety. The pigtails are just holding on to the bone there. I’m not gonna add all this meat but I’m gonna add a good amount. And then what I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna take the liquid from here to season this ’cause all that salt that came out from all these beautiful protein is gonna be used to flavor this. And I cook the beans really low and gentle so none of them burst. And normally, we let the beans burst and that’s what makes this sauce like really thicken. But I have this chicken stock, all right. I have the stock from the pork product and that’s what’s creating this beautiful velvety texture. So, that’s the advantage of using stock over water, you know. We replace that with so many more beautiful qualities. I’m gonna taste this for seasoning. Wow. This is a beautiful pot of stewed peas. And this meat is just gonna break up into there. I’m gonna add a little bit more of this liquid. You can see how beautiful the coconut milk, chicken stock, that pork stock is all coming together to create this wonderful, magical liquid. These beans are just holding onto their skin. Like they want to burst out but they can’t ’cause we cooked it so low and gently. So these peas are done. It’s time to plate. And this traditionally goes with steamed white rice that I made before. And here you have classic stew peas with steam rice. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

About the Instructor

Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.

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