Plantain Stew with Salt Beef
Another classic dish from Curaçao, plantain stew with salt beef. It is an excellent match for the pika I made at the start of the week. I think it a perfect recipe for autumn. You can still manage to get plantains and the dish is a filling heavy stew. The funny thing is that we don’t have seasons in Curaçao. It’s always summer. But somehow, we still eat all the stews and soups in that hot weather.
Stews and Salt Beef
Plantain stew is just one of the many stews we have in Curaçao. I think for every vegetable we have on island there is a version of a stew or soup. Think for example of green papaya stew or cabbage stew. Which is completely different than the Hungarian cabbage stew. As we don’t use paprika powder in our stews. And if we do it’s not the same amount Hungarians would use.
One component that you will find in every stew is the salt beef. When making these stews you rarely have to add any additional salt because most of it is derived from the salt beef. There is a process to get the salt beef ready to add to any dish and I break it down for you in the instructions. But if you just start cooking with it as is, it will be waaaaay to salty.
Back in the day this brining was necessary to be able to prolong the shelf life of meat. Before refrigerators that is. But what makes the brine process special is that it not only contains salt but also some herbs and spices which elevate the salt beef. I think this is definitely an item you will see regularly in the Caribbean Cuisine and also in Suriname.
Sofrito is basically cooking some aromatics in oil to enhance the flavors. It’s the base of most stews in the Caribbean and Latin America. Sofrito is not a recipe but a cooking method. That’s why you can find that almost each island in the Caribbean has their own version of sofrito. Using the herbs and spices that is more important to them. While it’s widely known and used in the Caribbean and South America, it actually originated from Spain and was introduced by the first Spanish colonizers.
You might see that sometimes I post a recipe and as a side I mention rice, even though it’s not paleo. I always add another substitute which will also work with the dish and is primal/paleo compliant. In this case it’s as simple as making cauliflower rice. At this point in my health journey, I found that my body can handle a little bit of rice. And it’s not something I eat regularly, maybe every 4-5 weeks there is a dish for which I’ll make some rice. It might change in the future. But this is extremely personal and everybody reacts differently to these slight adjustments. If you are just starting out on your journey to reclaiming your health, I would definitely recommend sticking it out. It’s not ideal to be making any exceptions at this point because you are in the process of resetting your body to be able to understand what it can and can’t handle.
Plantain Stew with Salt Beef
- 5 plantains not too ripe
- 1 kg salt beef zoutvlees/karnisá
- 2 medium onion diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 500 ml chicken broth warm
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- To clean the salt beef, remove from vacuum sealed pack and allow to sit in water for 30 minutes. Refresh the water and set the salt beef to boil for 30 minutes. Once done cut a little piece to taste, if it’s too salty for your taste you might need to refresh till it’s palatable. No need to continue boiling at this point just refresh the water.
- Meanwhile you can chop and dice the bell pepper, onion and garlic.
- Once the salt beef is done, cut it into bitesize chunks.
- Heat up the coconut oil in a pan and start making your sofrito by adding the onion, bell pepper and garlic to sweat it out.
- After 5 minutes you can add the salt beef, let it cook with the sofrito for 5 minutes
- At this point you can add the broth, spices and tomato paste. Cover the pot and let it cook for 30-45 minutes. You will need to check the salt beef. If it is still hard and tough to eat it might need longer.
- Slice the plantain into 3 cm thick slices and place in an empty pot.
- Once the salt beef is done, pour it over the plantains and cook for 10 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes and allow to cook for another 10 minutes. At this point the plantains should be cooked but not falling apart and the sauce will have thickened.
- Serve with cauliflower rice or rice.