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Pepperpot with Parsnips and Carrots

I’m sure there will be more than a few Guyanese shaking their heads after they read this recipe. Pepperpot is considered Guyana’s national dish, and while the seasonings may vary, one class of ingredients always seems to be missing: vegetables. (Besides the onions.) For all the Guyanese I have met, pepperpot is a pure meat fest. Since the first time I had pepperpot in Guyana and also on Liberty Avenue in Queens, I’ve always imagined the taste of carrots and parsnips, as a musician might imagine an additional harmony line or percussion track when hearing a song. So I began adding them, and I haven’t looked back. I see no reason why vegetables should not be invited to the pot, especially since the bittersweet cassareep works nicely with the bittersweet parsnips, and the already sweet carrots soak up the pot’s meatiness, as carrots dutifully accomplish for any stew.

1 pound lamb or goat stew meat, on the bone, cut into several large chunks
½ Spanish onion, chopped finely
about 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
1 large carrot or two small carrots, sliced into discs ¼” thick
1 large parsnip, sliced into discs or half-discs ¼” thick
½ cup diced potatoes (about ½” cubes), preferably yukon gold
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
3 tablespoons cassareep (see notes here for more information in this ingredient)
1/3 teaspoon wiri-wiri hot pepper sauce (habanero can be substituted)
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Canola oil

Season meat on all sides with salt and pepper. In stockpot, brown meat on high heat in canola oil. Remove and reserve. In same pot, sauté onions on medium high heat until translucent. Deglaze with stock. Add the browned meat and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid partially closed. Add the cassareep, sugar, the wiri-wiri and stir.

After one hour, add the cinnamon stick. Add more water or stock if necessary. Keep simmering until meat begins to soften (about ½ hour). Add vegetables and keep simmering until vegetables are soft but not mushy. Check for seasoning.

Serve with rice or bread. Serves 2-3.

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©2011 Darrin DuFord