Pepperpot short ribs with whipped yam and pickles

Pepperpot short ribs with whipped yam and pickles

A classic Guyanese beef delicacy, this dish is a time-honored tradition that requires several days to prepare. It is typically served during Christmas and other special occasions.

Preparation time

Cooking time
over 2 hours

Serves 5

By Sophie Michell
From Saturday Kitchen


For the brine

  • 625g/1lb 6oz brown sugar
  • 625g/1lb 6oz kosher salt
  • 5g/⅛oz black peppercorns
  • 50g/1¾oz fresh root ginger, thinly sliced
  • 25g/1oz cinnamon stick
  • 6g/¼oz cloves
  • 15 ice cubes

For the ribs

  • 1.15kg/2lb 5oz short beef ribs
  • ½ Scotch bonnet chilli, whole but pricked
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2.5cm/1in piece fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
  • small strip orange peel
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 100ml/3½fl oz cassareep
  • 100g/3½oz brown sugar
  • 100ml/3½fl oz rum
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

For the pickled Scotch bonnet

  • 125ml/4fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 50g/1¾oz sugar
  • ¼ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 120g/4¼oz Scotch bonnet chillies
  • small garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • pinch salt

For the pickled red onion

  • 250ml/9fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 50g/1¾oz white sugar
  • 125g/4½oz red onion, thinly sliced
  • pinch salt

For the pickled watermelon rind

  • 125g/4½oz watermelon rind
  • 65ml/2fl oz white vinegar
  • 65g/2¼oz white sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ star anise
  • ¼ clove
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds

For the whipped yam

  • 600g/1lb 5oz yam, peeled and largely diced
  • 30ml/2 tbsp double cream
  • 60ml/4 tbsp milk
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter
  • 10g/⅓oz kosher salt
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground white pepper


  1. To make the brine, put all the ingredients apart from the ice cubes into a very large pan along with 10 litres/17½ pints water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring everything to the boil. Place the ice cubes into a very large heatproof bowl, then pour the hot liquid over the ice and allow to cool completely.

  2. To make the short beef ribs, submerge the meat in the cooled brine, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.

  3. The next day, remove the beef from the brine and place in a deep, heavy-based casserole dish or roasting tray. Add the chilli, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, orange peel, bay leaf, salt and black pepper to the dish, rubbing into the beef where possible.

  4. Place a frying pan over a low heat. Add the oil and when hot add the sliced onions. Cook slowly for about 30 minutes until caramelised to a deep brown colour. When cooked add these to the casserole dish, in and around the beef.

  5. In a jug, mix the cassareep, brown sugar and rum. Pour this over the beef. Top up the liquid in the casserole dish with water until it is 5cm/2in above the beef.

  6. Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3. Cover the beef with kitchen foil and cook for 6–8 hours, checking periodically to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

  7. Remove the beef from the oven and allow to cool in the liquid. Keep the beef in the liquid until ready to use – for best results, leave it to sit in the sauce for 24 hours before eating.

  8. To make the pickled Scotch bonnet chillies, add the vinegar, salt, sugar and mustard seeds to a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Very thinly slice the chillies, saving the tops and tails for hot sauce. Pour the vinegar mix over the sliced chillies, garlic and thyme. Leave for a few days before serving.

  9. To make the pickled red onion, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil in a saucepan then pour over the sliced red onion. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper over the onions to ensure they stay submerged.

  10. To make the pickled watermelon rind, peel away the dark green outer layer from the watermelon and then cut out the flesh. Cut the remaining rind (with the white and pink part) into small 1cm/½in dice. Mix the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Once boiling, pour over the watermelon rind. Place in the fridge overnight.

  11. To make the whipped yam, place the yam in a pot and cover with cold water. Add the salt and bring to the boil. Cook until tender, this will take 15–20 minutes. When cooked, pass through a food mill or potato ricer.

  12. Place the cream, milk and butter into a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until the butter is melted. Slowly add the yam to this mixture, constantly whisking to avoid lumps. Add the white pepper, taste and adjust the salt if needed.

  13. Place the whipped yam onto a serving bowl or plate and top with the rib and reduced sauce. Garnish with the pickled Scotch bonnet, red onions, and watermelon rind.

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