The dish itself is serious comfort food, generally combining breadfruit, coconut milk, saffron, dumplings, callaloo and a salted fish or meat like codfish, smoked herring, salted beef, or pig’s tail. Everything is cooked together in one big pot over an open flame outdoors, as pictured below, with the key ingredient being the flavorful oil that is released from the coconut milk as it simmers, thereby, inspiring the name.
The party is an all-day affair drawing together whole neighborhoods, often to the beach, to prepare the meal. Everyone pitches in to help; peeling, cutting and seasoning meat and provisions, tending to the fire, mixing drinks – all have a role to play. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, though, the party really begins. Oil Down usually cooks for a few hours, leaving ample time to take some rum, catch-up on old talk, and just kick back.
1 large full breadfruit
1 whole hot green pepper
2 blades chive
1 sprig thyme, parsley, celery
1/2 to 1 ounce saffron, or
2 tablespoons curry powder
8 ounces salted meat (pig’s tail or snout)
5 to 6 cups coconut milk
salt to taste
Soak salt meat to remove some of the salt.
Cut breadfruit in half.
Divide each half into two or three sections.
Peel and core, then wash thoroughly.
Place meat in a pot and arrange breadfruit over meat.
Add seasoning and coconut milk.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Add saffron or curry powder and cook until meat and breadfruit are tender, the liquid is absorbed, and oil is seen around the breadfruit. Oil Down can be served plain, with a salad, or with ochro slush. Dumplings, plantains, callaloo leaves, or various other vegetables may be added as well.