A Caribbean Recipe for Bean Stew

By Nigel Spence
JC Contributor

It is quite a challenge to go from being a carnivore all your life to suddenly needing to be vegan or vegetarian for health reasons. This usually means that change is by necessity and not by choice. The reality of this urge to eat healthier usually begins after a visit to the doctor and the necessary advice on one of the myriad of ailments you may have succumbed to, and the guilt of those extra 25 pounds you’ve accumulated since. your last visit. that speaks directly to the prescriptions you are about to fill.

Whenever I meet someone struggling with the concept of maintaining a plant-based diet, the first thing I try to convey to them is that they don’t have to be so hard on themselves. .

If you’ve eaten meat in the past 39 years, you can gradually incorporate a more plant-based approach into your dishes over time, rather than punishing yourself with a cold turkey (pardon the pun) approach that fails. almost always.

That’s when I introduce them to what I like today to call my “transitional kitchen”.

This approach to meal preparation is very appealing to those who want to eat more plant-based foods but find eating this way bland and boring. They also feel deprived if there isn’t a big chunk of meat on the plate with all those green vegetables.

I then try to dispel the myth that a plant-based diet means eating salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner, by showing how ingredients such as beans, mushrooms, cauliflower and ancient grains can easily take center stage on a plate and put animal protein in its place. as one of the supporting actors.

A great illustration of the concept I tend to go to first is this bean dish that starts in the pressure cooker with vegetable broth.

The beans in this recipe are called vaquero or cow beans because of the color of the bean, but almost all types of beans work as well.

They go from dry to fully cooked in a pressure cooker in 40 minutes. I like to use these particular beans for this type of transitional stew because they hold their shape well and cook hearty and flavorful, making them good on their own or excellent with just a few supporting ingredients.

To quickly thicken the stew after cooking, I remove about half a cup of the cooked beans with a little cooking liquid, mix them a few times in a blender, and put it back with the rest of the beans.

Unlike a regular stew, I add the supporting ingredients at the end of the cooking process to allow their flavors to shine brightly, rather than mixing up and getting lost a bit in the overall flavor of the stew, for example. example when cooked for a long time. period of time. This type of transitional cooking relies heavily on this technique to elevate the simplest dishes to higher levels of complexity and palate satisfaction with minimal use of meat proteins or flavor enhancers common to conventional cooking.

Adding extremely tasty meat protein in a small amount goes a long way to achieve that savory taste that a carnivore is used to without the high meat protein content in the finished dish. In other words, you get great value for money!

For 3 cups of cooked beans, I used 1 oz of finely chopped un-dried smoked bratwurst sausage made from Mangalitsa pork, which has a high fat-to-meat ratio and extremely flavorful. Granted, this is an extreme example as it’s hard to find so much flavor in 1 oz of anything else except maybe cod (another favorite for this type of cuisine).

I also use lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, dill, cilantro, sliced ​​fresh green onions, freshly picked tomatoes, a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and chipotle pepper flakes with a pinch of rosemary infused salt. The result is an extremely flavorful bean stew with all the savory flavors to satisfy a carnivore’s senses, plus the brightness of extra ingredients added at the end of cooking time, without the guilt of a heavy plate of animal protein. .

I firmly believe that this approach is healthier than meat substitutes for carnivores looking for a solution, as the ingredient list of most vegan meat substitutes is scarier than the meat itself and could cause more damage to your system than just a dusting of meat.

I understand that many do not eat meat for ethical reasons, but it is beyond the scope of this particular approach, although the ultimate goal is always to reduce and possibly eliminate the craving for meat.

So, for those looking to overcome the hurdle of giving up meat and living with a more plant-based diet, this concept has helped a lot to do just that.

Almost Vegan Bean Stew

1 pound of dry beans

1 oz smoked Bratwurst (or any smoked sausage)

1 cup tomatoes, fresh, medium diced

½ cup of parsley, roughly chopped

½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

½ cup green onions, thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

2 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tbsp chipotle pepper flakes (can replace hot paprika)

1 tbsp rosemary infused salt (can use regular salt)


Add six cups of water to the pressure cooker. Add the beans and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Quickly release the pressure. Let the beans cool for 10 minutes, then add ½ cup of the beans with some of the cooking liquid to a blender. Mix for 10 seconds and pour this mixture into the stew and stir to thicken.

Add any additional ingredients to the stew and cook 5 more minutes over medium heat, stirring to incorporate. Remove from the heat and serve.

Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel worked as a freelance at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown With Bobby Flay where he emerged victorious in cooking contests against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s The Today Show, Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and Chopped from TVFN. The famous and reviewed by the New York Times Ripe kitchen and sea bass is Mr. Spence’s first entrepreneurial venture.

Michael M. Tomlin

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