sour orange or lime juice (from approximately 2 sour oranges or limes)
bouillon cube, optional
In This Recipe
For the epis: Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in jar and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze for up to 4 months.
For the legim: Place the meat in a large bowl and rinse with cold water 2 to 3 times to wash off excess blood, or until water is mostly clear.
Squeeze the juice of the lime onto the meat and throw in the lime halves. Add 1 t salt. With your hands, scrub the meat well using the lime halves until all the meat has changed color slightly. Rinse with cold water and drain. Discard lime halves. Set aside.
Bring 2 cups water to boil with 1/2 t salt. Pour the boiling water onto the meat, using a spoon to turn meat over so that it is all evenly scalded. Immediately drain water.
Add 1/4 cup epis to the meat and mix to coat evenly with the seasoning paste. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Place a large pot over medium low heat. When it is hot to touch, add the meat in a single layer. Cover pot. Let meat sweat for about 7 minutes, then flip meat over and cook for another 7-8 minutes until the juices have sweated out and the meat is a grayish color. Raise heat to high and add 1 t oil. Cook until liquid is mostly evaporated and oil separates from epis, about 8 minutes. Make sure to stir often to ensure that the epis doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat and remove pot from the burner. Remove meat and set aside.
Return the pot to the burner and adjust the heat to medium. Add 1 t oil and tomato paste. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until tomato turns a deep reddish brown. Add half of the vegetables and stir to combine with the tomato paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables reduce in volume. Add more vegetables to the pot and cook, stirring often, until these vegetables reduce in volume. Repeat with the remaining vegetables until all the vegetables are in the pot.
Add back the meat, then toss in the cloves, star anise, and bouillon cube (if using). Mix well. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 1 hour.
Check for seasoning and add scotch bonnet chili (if using). Cover the pot again and continue to simmer for another hour to 2 hours or until the meat is fork tender and the vegetables have broken down and are soft. Mash some of the vegetables with the back of a spoon or with a potato masher. Serve with white rice.
Note: Chayote is a type of squash that is common in Latin American, Caribbean, and Louisiana cuisines. It is also known by the name mirliton or chocho. If you cannot find chayote, use one small zucchini, finely diced.
I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.