Best Recipe for Jamaican Stew Pork
Jamaicans love pork, and the second most popular way to have pork is stewed. We like our meats dark—whether it's grilled, broiled, or stewed.
It is customary to use a darkening agent on the meat to give it some color. The other thing to do is to brown the meat, then stew it in its sauces.
The pork stew recipe below can be done how you like... so long as it's dark and has a gravy when you are done, then you have your stewed pork.
Jamaican style pork stew is different from the European or American version. I serve this with our traditional rice and peas and a salad.
Whereas the American pork stew has lots of vegetables and potatoes that make it a wonderful, hearty meal, you have to serve your pork as a meat dish here in Jamaica. See below for additions.
Photo of raw pork
Brown Stew Pork Ingredients
- 2 lbs pork stew, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 medium brown onion, chopped
- 2 stalks scallion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 heaping tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- salt is optional because the seasonings are already salty, I omit the salt altogether. You can taste the sauce and adjust the salt to your taste.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large thyme sprig
- 1 piece of fresh ginger, about in inch, smashed or sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon pimento seeds, cracked
Additions for variations
Most households will add something to their pork stew other than the plain pork. Here are what Jamaicans will add to their stew pork.
- Sliced carrots - 1 cup
- Diced potatoes - 1 medium
- Broad beans - 1 cip cooked or one can rinsed and drained
- Green peas - 1 small can or 1 cup
You may add your type of vegetable to your stew but you must remember that this dish is not a one pot meal and will be served with a starch and salad.
- Before you cut up your pork, I recommend rinsing it in some vinegar or a lime juice solution. Pat dry your pork with paper towels.
- Cube your meat and set in a bowl.
- To the bowl, add all other ingredients except for oil. Marinate for at least 2 hours before cooking. Best to do this overnight.
- In a dutch oven, heat oil on high until almost smoking. While oil is heating, shake off scallion, onion, garlic, and all seasoning pieces. Reserve.
- Add all pieces of meat to hot oil and cover. Keep turning over the meat to ensure all sides get browned. Let pork brown covered until all pieces are nice and brown. Keeping the meat covered ensures that the meat does not dry out.
- When the pork is nice and brown, drain any excess oil, add a cup of water, and reduce flames to medium. Each time the water evaporates, add a cup at a time until meat is tender. Keep checking the meat to make sure you don't over cook it. You will know when the pork is tender when the meat starts to fall away from the bone.
- When meat is tender, add reserved seasoning and a cup of water if needed. Reduce flames to medium low. Cover and let simmer until your sauce is nice and consistent to your liking. I like my sauce medium-thick, but you may thicken your sauce to your liking.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Turn off flames when your sauce is ready.
There are only a few things consistent with your Jamaican pork stew, and that is the color, onions, garlic, scallion, thyme, ginger, and pimento.
The type of coloring you put on your pork is up to you. Here are a few suggestions:
Browning Agent Options:
- Supermarket Browning: Browning that is sold in the supermarkets and used mainly for baking. It is really just a coloring agent, as it doesn't add much flavor, and it's quite thick. For 2 lbs pork, you should only use 2 drops. Use a syringe or teaspoon to add this to your meat or you may run the risk of adding too much.
- Sugar Browning: This is totally home made. I hate the taste of the commercial browning so I make my own. It's not as dark, but it tastes better. I add 3 tablespoons sugar to a small saucepan and let that boil until the sugar gets chocolaty dark and starts to give that burnt smell. Do not stir yet but make sure all the sugar is boiling. Then add four tablespoons water. Swirl sauce pan, then add another 3 or 4 tablespoons water. Let it boil a little, then stir to dissolve any sugar that is sticking to the bottom. It may take awhile to get the hang of it, but you'll get it with practice. Your browning should have no lumps or burnt particles in it, and it should be the consistency of maple syrup. If you see black stuff at the bottom of the pot, then it's likely your browning is too bitter. Make your browning a day before needed so you are sure it turns out okay. Add a teaspoon of this to your meat and store the balance in an airtight bottle or jar for future use.
- Teriyaki or Worcestershire: You can also use Teriyaki or Worcestershire sauce as well. These will give unique flavors.
Instead of the coriander, celery salt, garlic salt, and onion powder that I used, you may use your preferred powdered spices, such as:
- A pork spice or bouillon.
- Instead of water to make the gravy, you may use meat stock.
- Whatever additional spices you might prefer.
As I mentioned, flavor your pork your way. But be sure to keep the basic fresh herbs intact (the garlic, onion, thyme, pimento, and ginger are a must).
© 2012 Carolee Samuda