Pepper Pot

This colonial dish, originally from the West Indies, in its early forms combines meat with shellfish, as island and coastal dishes sometimes do, with great subtlety and success. However, ‘Philadelphia Pepper Pot’, a famous American speciality, has lost the shellfish, using tripe with veal or lamb. This is an eighteenth-century English recipe.


  • 2 lb. (1 k.) leg of lamb, diced (all skin and bone removed)
  • ½ lb. (240 g.) gammon rasher diced with the fat (only rind removed)
  • 1 small lobster or a crab (dressed, taken from the shell, and diced), or ¼ lb. (120 g.) shelled prawns, each cut in two or three pieces
  • ½ lb. (240 g.) finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 small lettuce finely shredded
  • a handful of chopped spinach or sorrel
  • a tablespoon of finely chopped thyme
  • 3 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 very hot chilli peppers
  • 1 green pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 peppercorns salt
  • 24 very small dumplings
  • tablespoon of lemon juice (or fresh lime if available)
  • 1 banana for each person
  • plain boiled rice


Put the lamb, bacon and onions with the thyme, peppers, green pepper, cayenne, paprika, pepper and salt, to simmer in 3 quarts (3 1.) of water for ¾ hour. Then add cabbage, lettuce and spinach or sorrel and cook a further 20 minutes. Put in the shellfish, stirring gently, and the dumplings. After ten minutes, add the lemon or lime juice, and check seasoning. Add more cayenne if the dish not hot enough.

Serve with plain boiled rice and a banana for each person. The bananas should be peeled and sliced and served in small dishes or saucers. A little lemon juice should be squeezed over them to prevent discoloration. The pepper pot should have a great deal of almost clear, very hot (in both senses of the word) gravy, and the meat and vegetables should not be at all mushy. It is really a soup rather than a stew, and should be served in bowls or soup plates. It is very good for a supper party, as long as the guests are known to like things ‘hot’.