If you are Caribbean, you might think you know everything about Nutmeg, traditionally used in baked products like Jamaican Bun or in Egg Nog. Further research will reveal the source and interesting uses of this spice, first introduced to Grenada from Indonesia in the 19th century .
Grenada leads the Caribbean in nutmeg production. Although farmers had to re-plant their stock after Hurricane Ivan wiped out 90% of trees in 2004, Grenada currently exports 20% of the world’s nutmeg .
Appearing as a symbol on the island’s flag, nutmeg is referred to as Grenada’s “Black Gold”. That image shows what the nutmeg looks like on the tree before it reaches your supermarket shelves either whole or grated . Encased in a fleshy yellow pod which opens when ripe, the hard seed is removed from the webbing of scarlet coloured mace.
If you are ever in Grenada, the Nutmeg Processing Plant in the western town of Gouyave will take you back in time. Sorting is a labour intensive process where women separate nutmeg seeds by grades before drying.
Nutmeg oil is used for medicinal purposes to help relieve pain and inflammation and is also used in perfumes, soaps, beauty products and for massages. Nutmeg ice cream is popular in Grenada and the syrup accompanies pancakes. The hard outer shell of the seed when cracked is sprinkled in gardens, especially where there is no grass or other ground cover.
The next time you reach for nutmeg, this Grenadian spice will have new meaning. Don’t limit yourself to using it in desserts or cocktails. Try something new, like this Lamb dish from Jesson Church, Head Chef at Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada.
By: Michelle L. McDonald
Noisettes* of Nutmeg-dusted Lamb
on a mash of Cannellini beans scented with Garlic and Rosemary
by Jesson Church – Head Chef at Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada
1 single loin of lamb
100g white cannellini beans (soaked overnight)
2 cloves garlic
Few sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp ground nutmeg
8 croutons (noisette size & shape)
8 pieces potato (for accompaniment)
1. De-bone and prepare loin of lamb. Cut into 6-8 noisettes.
2. Use bones and mirepoix to prepare jus-lie (use one garlic clove and a little stalk of rosemary to enhance).
3. Place beans, 1 clove of garlic and some rosemary in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim, cover with a lid and simmer for approximately 1 hour until tender. Drain well and remove rosemary and garlic
4. Mash beans with a little butter, add seasoning to taste and keep warm.
5. Cook croutons in clarified butter and keep warm.
6. Cook potatoes in clarified butter and keep warm.
7. Season and cook noisettes in clarified butter ensuring meat remains pink, i.e. not cooked to well done.
8. On the croutons, place a neat bed of bean mash and dress noisette on top.
9. Set on a plate garnishing with small heap of mash, potatoes, jus-lie and a sprig of rosemary.
* A noisette is a small round piece of meat or other food item.
** Traditional mirepoix is a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, sauces, soups and other foods. The proportions (by weight) for making mirepoix are 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery.
*** Jus-lie is classic gravy traditionally made with meat bones, Celery, Onion, Carrot, Mushroom Trimmings, Tomato Puree, Stock, Bay Leaf, Thyme Sprigs, Salt, Pepper and Arrowroot
Michelle L. McDonald has been writing since her teenage years, when she started posting entries in her diary. Since then, she has developed this hobby into becoming a Features writer and Blogger. Since 2003, her work has been published in the Jamaica Gleaner, SHE Caribbean and on www.caribbeancricket.com profiling International cricketers and writing “off the field” features from the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.
On www.yamfoot.net Michelle posts candid stories about living in the Caribbean. Professionally, she is a freelance Service/HR Advisor and Trainer and is based in Grenada and Jamaica, although she considers all of the Caribbean her home.