The Legendary Jamaican Stew Peas

Not many meals can boast quite the infamy and the prominence of Jamaican stew peas. While the meal itself is undeniably delectable, many Jamaicans will tell you, stew peas has powers to be feared. Just like the Sunday Dinner, Stew Peas can supposedly lead to spontaneous and everlasting love.

The saying goes, when your girlfriend starts making stew peas, be afraid, she is getting serious about the relationship. As, whether on its own or with ‘special additives’, Stew Peas apparently can be used to tie/bind man to woman, so that he will never leave her.

As a child, it was my very favourite meal and it was guaranteed, whenever I was being rewarded for doing something good.

A delicious rich meaty stew with white rice is truly the ultimate gravy lover’s dream, and as we’ve learned from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, ‘Gravy is love’ – then again, maybe that’s just me.


The versatility of stew peas means that it can be made with a range of meats but a traditional stew peas contains salt and fresh beef with pig’s tail – just the way my mother use to make it.

Stew Peas with Pig’s Tail


  • 1/2 pound of salted beef
  • 1/2 pound stew/fresh beef
  • 1/2 pound pig’s tail
  • 2 sprigs of escallion
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 tin of red peas or soak two cups of red peas in water for about 8 hour
  • 1 tin of coconut milk or 1 large coconut blended/grated and strained
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 pimento seeds
  • 2 cups of flour


Boil salt beef and pig’s tail for 30 minutes then drain off the salty water. Boil for another 30 minutes then drain off the salty water again.

Cut stew/fresh beef into cubes, gently fry to ensure beef doesn’t fall apart in the stew.

Place the peas, meat and three cups of water in a pot, bring to a boil then let simmer for one hour.

Make dough by mixing 2 cups of flour with water. Break off small pieces of dough and roll them into “spinners” or small tubular dumplings.

After the peas and meat have simmered for 1 hour, add the coconut milk, onion, escallion, spinners, garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper, pimento and scotch bonnet (put in scotch bonnet whole, try not to burst the pepper while stirring the pot).

Cook for another hour then remove the scotch bonnet pepper. Serve with white rice.


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