Tortie (Turtle Stew with Black Beans and Green Banana)

Recipe of the Week

Our Guest Chef this week is Georges Johnson, owner and Executive Chef of Cafe Normandie (if that sounds sort of familiar that’s because it’s located upstairs of that famous Frenchtown institution, Normandie Bar). Cafe Normandie was one of the vanguard of Frenchtown restaurants – for more than 20 years it has been serving award winning French Caribbean cuisine (its praises have also been sung by Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Frommer’s Guide – pretty good judges of tastier than average victuals). This week’s recipe originally came from Georges’ grandmother. He translated it from the original patois and made some modern adaptations then took first place with it in a recent charity cooking competition. It’s a real Caribbean masterpiec e using turtle meat and before you go into a conservationist hissy fit (and believe me I’d be the first to throw one) let me clarify that the turtle used is fresh water farm raised snapping turtle from Florida, approved by the FDA, and available through s eafood purveyors. Now that we all feel better, here’s the recipe for:


(Turtle Stew with Black Beans and Green Banana)

  • 10 Lb Snapping Turtle Meat (you could substitute an untrimmed pork roast)
  • 8 oz flour, roasted until dark brown
  • 2 heads garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 head celery, chopped
  • 3 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 sweet potato (not yams), peeled and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large pork bones for stock
  • 2 cups black turtle beans (soaked overnight)
  • 2 hands green bananas (16 fig bananas), peeled, washed with lime and boiled in lightly salted water for 20 minutes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • Seasonings to taste:
    • scallion, chopped
    • fresh thyme (whole sticks)
    • parsley, chopped
    • 5 whole cloves
    • 1-2 hot peppers (Georges uses red ajiens)
    • Salt and pepper

    Rub turtle meat with limes. In a large stockpot, braise in vegetable oil, turtle meat and juices, garlic, bell peppers, celery, carrots and onions. Add roasted flour and mix. Cover with salted water and bring to boil. Add stock bones, soaked beans, bra ndy and seasonings. Simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste, add salt and pepper to taste. Add sweet potato (this will help to thicken the stew as it breaks down but you still want pieces of potato so stir carefully!). Simmer anoth er 1 to 1 1/2 hours, covered but stirring occasionally. While simmering slice bananas into bite size pieces. To serve, divide Tortie into large bowls and garnish with banana slices set on the top.

    Obviously this serves lots of people. Why not have a Caribbean Night, make some of those neat drinks that call for umbrellas in them (if you need some ideas check out some of the vacation villa pages for recipes, e.g., Sabawind), have the Tortie – nice and robust to soak up that alcohol, then for dessert something light like a selection of tropical fruits or some tropically flavored ice cream or sherbet.