Most people wake up on Christmas morning anxious to open presents. Breakfast, if a special thing at all, is merely a pit stop on the way to the presents or a way to bring everyone down from the high of receiving all that fab new stuff!
Well, for Guyanese (at least these Guyanese), breakfast is the destination NOT the journey to the presents or a stop on the way back from the presents. Christmas breakfast is pretty much all we can think about the night before, and that’s all due to a favourite dish of ours, Pepperpot.
It’s impossible to spoil us on this dish as it’s only prepared once a year in most Guyanese kitchens, and that’s at Christmas time. Pepperpot (NOT this) is a dark, meat stew and sauce mixture, flavoured with cinnamon, clove and other spices. In fact, just about the only main ingredients are meat (usually pork or beef), cinnamon sticks, cloves, salt, whole peppers (when in Guyana we use wiri wiri peppers, when in Jamaica we use Scotch Bonnet peppers), and cassareep which gives it its signature dark colour.
It most closely resembles a soup and is eaten by hand with thick chunks of homemade bread – the bread is ripped from the loaf, dipped into the spicy stew, soaked and devoured. It gets better folks, Pepperpot improves with age, so while it may be at its freshest on Christmas morning, it’s definitely at its best closer to New Years!
Here’s how our mom does it:*
- Season meat with salt, onion and fine leaf thyme.
- Spray bottom of pan and heat seasoned meat.
- Add water to cover the meat.
- After it boils a bit, add clove and cinnamon sticks. Let boil for 15 minutes.
- Put in a whole pepper (or a few =)). 15 minutes more of boiling
- Add cassareep until the liquid turns black, not brown.
- When the meat is tender (or you find yourself suddenly beating people off with a stick because they’ve begun descending on the boiling pot seemingly from out of nowhere!) you’re done!
* Disclaimer : this is our mother’s version (no animal faces or ears or blubbery, fatty pieces of things). Please refer to What’s Cooking in Guyana for versions which may be more… authentic =)