Soul food originally was a derisive description of scraps of food available to the black slaves of the Southern United
States and the West Indies from the white man’s table. The truly remarkable meals that evolved out of very humble, often barely edible ingredients remain a lasting memorial to ingenuity under the most dire of circumstances. Martinville
Soulfood Stew is an adaptation of one such dish where the ‘meat’ is salt pork and the vegetables almost anything available. It may be served on its own, as an economical supper dish, or as a spicy accompaniment to fried chicken or barbecued spareribs.
2 lb. salt pork, cut into cubes
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 lb. okra , washed and trimmed
1 lb. canned corn kernels, drained
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
8 medium-sized tomatoes, blanched, peeled and cut into quarters
1 medium-sized green pepper, white pith removed, seeded and cut into thin rings
10 fl. oz. beef stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Put the salt pork in a heavy-based sauce-pan. Place the saucepan over moderate heat and cook the salt pork, stirring fre quently, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cubes are brown all over and have rendered most of their fat. With a slotted spoon, remove the cubes from the pan and set them aside.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the pork fat. Add the onions and sugar to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the okra , corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green pepper and salt pork and stir well to mix. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour over the beef stock, and add the thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. Taste the stew for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the stew to a warmed serving dish. Serve immediately.