jamaican stew peas


This is my mother’s recipe (via my youngest sister) for stew peas or stewed red kidney beans with beef and salt pork. It is a popular dish in Jamaica and is often eaten with dumplings, rice and peas, and “food”–boiled green banana, Irish potato, carrots, sweet potato, and sometimes boiled dumplings. Slow cooking all day is the best way to make stew peas,  but I came up with a short cut and cooked it in a pressure cooker for 40 minutes. If using the pressure cooker method, increase the liquid to four cups. I also could not find salt pork in Bangkok so I bought pork belly, chopped it up and seasoned it just as I would season the beef, braised it briefly in oil, then continued with the recipe.

Jamaican Stew Peas

  • 2 lbs. stewing beef
  • 1 piece salt pork (rinsed) (my sister substitutes bacon)
  • 4 carrots (2″ lengths)
  • 2 cans red kidney beans (19 oz. cans), but I prefer the equivalent amount in dry kidney beans and I just soak them in water the night before
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic
  • dry mustard
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • thyme
  • 2 whole pimento berries (pimento is allspice in Jamaica; or use ¼ tsp ground allspice)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • Pick-a-peppa sauce, to taste
  • 1 inch of coconut cream block or 1 cup coconut cream
  • Approximately 3 cups beef broth
  1. Wipe excess moisture from beef; trim if necessary.
  2. Season beef with salt, black pepper, garlic, and mustard.
  3. Cut salt pork into 4 pieces, boil and drain; or dice the bacon
  4. Mix beef, pork, carrots (if you can add the carrots a couple of hours later, they’re less likely to be mushy) and drained kidney beans in crock pot.
  5. Mix beef bouillon powder in 2 cups of water, thyme, allspice, Worcestershire sauce, and Pick-a-peppa sauce; melt coconut cream in mixture.
  6. Pour sauce over mixture in crock pot, add enough beef broth to almost cover contents, and turn on low heat for 10 to 14 hours.
  7. One and a half hours before serving, turn up the crock pot to high to get it to simmer.
  8. One hour before serving, add dumplings.


2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp shortening
½ cup hot water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Melt shortening in hot water. Gradually add warm water so that dough holds together but is not sticky. Add more flour if necessary.

To make dumplings, pinch off 1 1/2 inch of dough and roll it between your palms into a skinny string of dough about 3 inches long. If using the pressure cooker, let the pressure out manually and remove the lid. Reheat the stew peas to boiling and drop all the dumplings in the pot. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook the dumplings until they float which might take 10-20 minutes depending on how many there are. You can halve the recipe if you prefer to have less dumplings.

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