Cook-up Rice is considered a peasant dish. It was traditionally created and made to be eaten at the end of the week, by which time, rations would have depleted. So, the ends and bits of meat left over would be cooked with rice and peas or beans readily available. As with most peasant dishes, it was well seasoned with the addition of fresh herbs such as thyme, green onions, basil along with onions and tomatoes. Cooking the ingredients with coconut milk added a richness that is highly favored. Cook-up Rice is still to this day, made to be eaten particularly on Saturdays but it is also cooked and eaten any day of the week.
In Guyana, where the dish originates, Cook-up Rice is a must-have dish on Old Year's Night (New Year's Eve). Large pots of Cook-Up Rice are made with bits of ham, tripe, salted pork, and fresh beef. The peas/beans of choice usually being black-eyed peas.
Cook-Up Rice Meats
Salted pork, salted beef, tripe, fresh pork, fresh beef, dried shrimp, and chicken are all meat ingredients that can be included in Cook-up Rice. Some people make a Cook-up Rice combo, meaning that they use a combination of meats while others prefer to make their Cook-Up Rice with only one type of meat. For example, you can have a Tripe Cook-up, Beef Cook-up or Chicken Cook-up.
Cook-Up Rice Peas/Beans
In the Caribbean, we generally refer to all legumes as peas. Cook-up Rice can be made with any peas of choice but the favorites are black-eyed peas, split peas, red beans (not to be confused with kidney beans) and pigeon peas. Unlike the Cook-up Rice that can be made with a combination of meats, Cook-up Rice is never made with a combination of peas, rather, it is made with one set of peas. So you will hear people declare that they have made black-eye Cook-up, Split Peas Cook-up or Pigeon Peas Cook-up.
Trinidad and Tobago have a dish called Pelau that carries many of the same characteristics but they should never be considered to be the same thing.