Jamaican Rice and "Peas"
- 1 fresh coconut, cracked and meat removed from shell
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in 3 cups of water
- 1/2 pound smoked pork hocks, tails, or other meat for flavoring, optional
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 scallions, crushed*
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 scotch bonnet, halved and seeded
- 2 1/2 cups long grain rice, washed and drained
Break the coconut meat into small chunks with your hands. Add the water to a blender, and blend on high speed, adding the coconut chunks little by little until the mixture resembles a coarse puree. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, measure the coconut milk, and set aside.
Place the beans, along with the soaking liquid into a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the pork hock and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until beans are just tender, about 1 hour. Add the coconut milk, scallions, thyme, allspice, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and, once the mixture has returned to a boil, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Remove the thyme sprigs and scotch bonnet pepper halves and serve.
**It is traditional to "crush" scallions by placing them on a cutting board and lightly tapping them with the handle of a knife. They can then be removed before serving but still impart their wonderful flavor to the rice and peas.
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001