St. John in the USVI is a magical place. There's the turquoise water, the beautiful seashells, the white sand beaches and most importantly, delicious food. While there, you must try the Crucian potato stuffing, a mainstay of the Caribbean diet. It's a tasty sweet potato side dish that is traditionally eaten around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Also importantly, its devotees say this tasty side is best consumed in the Virgin Islands! If you are planning a visit to USVI, contact us to tell us your dates of travel, otherwise cook up this memorable USVI cultural Caribbean dish from home.
The Best Food in the Caribbean to Eat is in the USVI
Crucian potato stuffing fans say that the dish brings you straight back to the Caribbean islands and their array of distinctive flavors, no matter where you are. However, they also say it’s best to eat it in the Virgin Islands.
Digby Stridiron, St. Croix’s acclaimed chef and Caribbean culinary ambassador, explained,
“For me, it’s the quintessential dish that lets me know that I’m home. I’ve never had potato stuffing outside of the USVI. It has loads of flavor and can still be healthy.”Digby Stridiron talked about what Crucian potato stuffing means to him personally.
What is Crucian Potato Stuffing?
When you're on vacation in St. John, USVI and staying at Marketplace Suites, one of the "must try" dishes is Crucian potato stuffing. This Caribbean spin-off of the traditional stuffing or sweet potato casserole is good for the holidays and just about any time of the year since it's so light and fluffy.
The dish has its origins in St. Croix, and it has raisins and herbs that give it a little bit of sweetness to balance out the savory stuffing ingredients. Still, it's better for you than the decadent cornbread stuffing or a rich and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows you find in the U.S. Mainland, both of which can really make your blood glucose levels go through the roof!
Different variations of Crucian Potato Stuffing
You'll find unique spins on Crucian potato stuffing while you are dining out, but one thing is for sure, they are all a treat you will remember for a long time. Some variations include ham or bacon, but we think that the vegetarian version with raisins and herbs gives it just the right amount of flavor.
Where Can You Find it in the USVI?
You can find Crucian potato spottily served in restaurants as a side in the Virgin Island year-round, but you typically find it most often around the holidays in USVI restaurants and at family dinner tables. So, when you're vacationing here and see it on a menu, be sure to order it!
What is Crucian Potato Stuffing Like?
Crucian Potato Stuffing is typically made with Caribbean, red-skinned sweet yams, which are a little different than the orange-fleshed varieties you buy on the US mainland. The key ingredients added while cooking the yams are usually vegetables and fruits like raisins, bell peppers, olives, scallions and celery.
Some herbs that are tossed into the mix for flavor include parsley, thyme, cumin, paprika, cilantro, allspice and sometimes ginger. Tomato paste and heat are added via scotch bonnet or habanero peppers.
You start the recipe by baking or boiling the potatoes, which are then drained. All of the potato chunks are broken down into mash with an immersion blender and butter is added. Then all the other vegetables, tomatoes and spices mentioned previously are mixed into it to give it that delicious burst of flavor.
How to Make it Yourself
If you can't find delicious Crucian potato salad during your stay, no one says you can't make it yourself. It's a pretty easy dish to follow and doesn't require any hard-to-find ingredients.
So, if you're feeling adventurous, or just want to try your hand at a new dish, give one of the recipes below a whirl! You can make it ahead of time and then just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat, making it a convenient dish for your vacation meal plan.
Recipe for Crucian (Cruzan) USVI Potato Stuffing
Healthy Vegan Ingredients for Less spicy Traditional USVI Potato Stuffing :
- Use white sweet potatoes (smaller sweet potatoes are more sweet) & coconut sugar to reduce blood sugar increases
- At least 2 lbs of potatoes
- 1 cup of coconut sugar to every 2 (two) lbs potatoes
- 1/2 bell peppers,
- 3/4 cup celery to every 2 (two) lbs potatoes
- 1 cup of raisins to every 2 (two) lbs potatoes
- 3 Tsp of butter replacement (ex: I Cant Believe Its not Butter)
- 1/4 onion per 2 (two) lbs potatoes
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil per 2 (two) lbs potatoes
- 1/2 can Goya (or any vegan approved) Tomato Sauce per (two) 2 lbs potatoes
- 1.5 cloves of mined garlic
- 1 cup of almond or coconut milk per 2 (two) lbs potatoes
More Traditional Ingredients for USVI Caribbean Potato Stuffing:
- 5 lb bag of potatoes (garnet or jewel yams ARE GREAT)
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 can milk
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 Celery(chopped)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup of raisins
- ½ cups of brown sugar
- 1/2 Scotch Bonnet peppers or Habanero Chile peppers
- 1 can Goya tomato sauce
Following ingredients adjust to your taste for the right potato stuffing:
Note: Dry herbs is 1 teaspoon for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, as fresh herbs are more potent.
- 2-4 Tsp thyme,
- 3-4 Tsp black pepper,
- 1-2 tsp of salt
- 3-4 tsp of cinnamon
- 1-3 tsp of maple syrup
How to Cook your USVI Crucian or Caribbean Mashed Potato Stuffing:
- Roughly chop the potato into chunks before adding them to a large pot of water.
- Add enough water to the pot so that all the potatoes are completely submerged in water.
- Drain off the excess water and use and potato masher/immersion stick blender. T
- Then, break down the potato chunks into mash and incorporate the butter.
- Place on medium heat add the coconut oil and begin to saute the onion and garlic for 30 seconds.
- Quickly add the bell peppers, celery and raisins and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the coconut sugar, tomato paste, thyme, black pepper, salt to your taste and cinnamon.
- Place the contents in the frying pan until they take on a red hue.
- Pour the sauteed ingredients in with the mash potatoes.
- Use a folding technique to ensure the fruit and vegetables are fully incorporated.
- Taste test stuffing once all of the ingredients are incorporated
- Cook until potato is subtle red hue.
- Transfer the potato stuffing into an oven proof dish.
- Use a knife or the back of a large spoon to evenly distribute the mixture, it should resemble a deep pie.
- Once evenly distributed, Use a fork to lightly rake over the top of potato stuffing, gives it a nice texture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 65 minutes, check every 5 minutes past 50 minutes.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown with a thin crust.
- Store any leftover potato stuffing in a well covered container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Freeze leftovers is OK.
How to cook Virgin Islands Potato Stuffing Recipe [Video on Youtube]
Experience St. John culture while staying at Marketplace Suites
Marketplace Suites in St. John is a fantastic and luxurious place to stay while exploring all that the US Virgin Islands have to offer. From amazing beaches, lush, tropical forests and world-class shopping and dining, there's something for everyone in this beautiful destination. And don't forget to try Crucian potato stuffing – you won't regret it!
For more information about our suites or to book your stay now call (800) 727-6610 or book your stay on our website or tell us your dates and we will do the rest. We'll be glad to help you plan your perfect Caribbean vacation!