Pepper Pot

This is an interesting recipe because the two most famous Pepper Pots are entirely different from this and from each other. Jamaica Pepper Pot cannot rightfully be made without cassareep (the juice of the bitter cassava) and includes crab or lobster, and Philadelphia Pepper Pot includes shredded tripe.

This eighteenth-century recipe from Hertfordshire is simple and good. All three versions probably have a common ancestry. The stew should burn the mouth, but not fiercely. Serve with thick slices of fresh brown bread and unsalted butter.

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • stick (75 g) butter
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes
  • 2 packets chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 lettuce, very finely chopped
  • ½ lb (240 g) cold roast chicken or lamb, cut in 1½ inch (3.5 cm) slices
  • ½ lb (240 g) back bacon slices, rind removed, cut into ½ inch (1 cm) strips
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 small suet dumplings

Method

In a very large saucepan, fry the onions in ½ stick (60 g) of the butter until soft but not coloured. Put in the potatoes, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of white pepper. Add the spinach and stir in a further ½ teaspoon of salt and a little more white pepper. Put the lettuce on top and then the chicken or lamb with a further ½ teaspoon of white pepper.

Fry the bacon strips lightly in the remaining butter and add them to the pan. Pour in enough water to come almost up to the level of the bacon. Sprinkle the bacon with ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Bring just to the boil over very low heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dumplings. Drop them into the stew and cook for a further 15 minutes. Lift out the dumplings and keep hot on a small dish. Mix all the layers of the Pepper Pot well together and add the remaining cayenne pepper. Ladle or pour the whole stew into a wide serving dish and set the dumplings round the edge.

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