I started off thinking along the lines of jerk seasoning today, the sun is out and allspice and citrus seemed very appealing!
But rather than making a very hot spice paste as jerk would be, I’ve gone for some of the same flavours, but with herbal and lemon notes to make a fragrant and fresh stew to go with creamy ackee.
I blogged an ackee recipe a while ago, and although I have cooked with it since then it’s always been a similar dish, with rice and assorted flavourings.
This makes a lovely change, and is a delicious, bright, springtime meal.
makes 4 servings
for the spice paste
2 tsp coriander seed
6 to 10 allspice berries, depending on size
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1/2 large lemon
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tbsp dried ramsons (wild garlic), or 2 cloves fresh garlic
1 small leek, the dark green tops minced and add the whites finely sliced to the stew (I ended up with 3 tbsp of the tops)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
a small bunch of fresh parsley (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
a small bunch of fresh coriander (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp oil
for the stew
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
200 g mushrooms, chopped
50 g frozen spinach
100 g green lentils, rinsed
300 ml water
400 g tin of black eye beans, drained (240 g drained)
1 540 g tin of ackee, drained (340 g drained)
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
First make the paste. You can use a mini processor to whizz everything together (as long as it’s strong enough to cope with the allspice berries), but I like to use a pestle and mortar.
Start with the coriander seed and allspice and get it partially crushed. Next add the lemon zest, ginger, leek tops, thyme, ramsons, parsley stalks, coriander stalks, salt and vinegar. Smush together into a paste. Then the nutmeg and sugar goes in, and bash it a bit more. By this point there should be no large lumps of allspice berry or coriander seed. Stir in the lemon juice.
Now the stew. Heat the oil on a low heat in a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. Add the paste, and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the leek whites, celery, carrot and mushrooms, along with the tin of tomatoes and 300 ml water. Bring to a simmer on the hob, cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After this time add the lentils and spinach and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
Then add the beans, parsley and ackee and give the stew a last 10 minutes, that’s 1 hr 10 minutes in total.
Stir coriander through at the end.