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It takes a lot of hearty meals to support an army, especially one that’s fighting a revolution. Fifes and drums just can’t boost morale over grumbly stomachs! Then when the farmers on your “home” turf choose to sell their goods to the other side, army cooks have to get really creative finding ingredients for those hearty meals.
In fact, legend has it that Georgia Washington’s army was facing grain shortages in the winter of 1777 when his cooks—possibly influenced by immigrants and/or enslaved people from the Caribbean—saved the day with pepper pot, a hearty stew made from, well, whatever was available that day which typically included tripe, vegetables, and pepper.
It seems like pepper pot would have become elevated as an all-American dish after playing such a big role in a successful revolution, but it does enjoy one day of honor: Dec. 29 aka National Pepper Pot Day. Consider adding pepper pot to your winter repertoire of hearty meals. You can try a traditional American Philadelphia pepper pot recipe that features tripe and other ingredients like what Gen. Washington’s army ate during the American revolution. Or you can fancy it up like modern Guyanese pepper pot recipes that feature prime cuts of meat, brown sugar, and spices that would’ve been considered much more high-end in the late 1700s.
Food Crafting shares some traditional American pepper pot recipes in their blog How to Cook Simple Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup Recipes. The tips on preparing tripe are valuable, because even though it takes less time on a modern stove than it did in the days of cooking over an open fire, it can still require a quite a few hours of cooking time!
And Serious Eats shares their 2 ½-hour Guyanese Pepperpot (written altogether as one word) recipe which favors oxtail, beef chuck, Caribbean spices and lots of information about balancing your preferences for sweetness and heat. If you’re ambitious, try both!