Caribbean beef curry with rice and peas

By Bianca Osbourne
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One of the most legendary and creative combos of the Caribbean is rice and peas, two starchy options that come together with spices to make a dish of icon status. As a child, rice and peas was ALWAYS the accompaniment; whether we were having stewed chicken, curry or callaloo, rice and peas was always on the menu—still is.

When served with a hearty scoop of saucy beef curry, a warming and interesting plate of food, this combo is perfect for the cold months. But honestly, I would enjoy it all year round. The secret to a deeply flavoured and rich curry is to toast the spices and NEVER ever use low-fat coconut milk. The creamy richness balances the spice in both the rice and peas, and the curry.

The best part about both of these dishes? They get better with time. Curry is yum on day one, but it's EVERYTHING on day three.

Ingredients

Caribbean rice and peas:

  • 1 cup jarred or canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 400 millilitres unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice

Caribbean curry beef:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or high heat cooking oil like canola or avocado)
  • 1 pound stewing beef cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. To make the rice and peas, in a large saucepan, cover the beans with water and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. 
  2. Stir in the onion, scallions, garlic, allspice, thyme, Scotch bonnet, ginger, two teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Then, stir in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
  3. Stir in the rice, and cover and simmer over low heat until tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and let steam for 10 minutes, then discard the thyme stems and Scotch bonnet. Using a fork, fluff the rice and beans, and season with salt. Serve hot.
  5. To make the beef curry, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. In a thick bottom dutch oven or pot, melt the coconut oil on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, dry the meat and season with one teaspoon of salt. 
  7. Add the meat to the pot and brown for about four minutes. Then, remove from the pot and set aside.
  8. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pot and cook for two minutes. Add the spices and toast for one minute before adding the maple syrup and the resting beef. Stir to coat everything with syrup, for 30 seconds. 
  9. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Then add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes, covered. 
  11. To serve, garnish with fresh cilantro or mint.

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