Archive | September, 2014

The Chicken Pot Pie They Secretly Crave

Easy-to-make, paleo-friendly homemade chicken pot pie.

Easy-to-make, paleo-friendly homemade chicken pot pie.

A few weeks ago my husband Harris mentioned that he’d like some “Mrs Swenson’s” chicken pot pie. Obviously it had been a long while since he’d bought one as the brand names were running together. Between the two of us, we’ve rarely run out of ideas for supper and always have good ingredients to play with. But it’s hard to say good-bye to nostalgic favorites, even if the nutrition is suspect. Though once you’ve tried this easy, homemade version, you’ll throw rocks at those sad little tins. When it comes down to it, this week’s recipe is the one you and your clan want: tender chunks of chicken, brightly flavored vegetables, a gravy so good that a spoon is needed to get every drop, and a delicious and satisfying crust.

So here’s what you secretly or not-so-secretly crave. Every step is easy. You can prepare it on a weeknight. The leftovers are fantastic—heat it up at work, and you’ll be the envy of your co-workers. The main points to remember are these:

  • Cook the chicken as directed, on a foil-covered baking sheet. The meat will be perfectly cooked, flavorful and tender.
  • Save the pan juices and drippings to add to the sauce.
  • Use homemade chicken broth.
  • Cook the vegetables in the broth prior to making the gravy.

You can save some time by simply topping the filling with the mashed potatoes without making and sautéing patties. Or go old school and put the filling in a small pie pan, cover with mashed potatoes and run it under the broiler until the top is golden brown.

Paleo version. Use a blend of water and tapioca starch or arrowroot powder for thickening instead of the rice flour roux. (Add the mixture by the tablespoon and wait until the gravy reaches a simmer. Adding the full amount all at once can result in a too-thick sauce.) Substitute coconut cream for heavy cream in the gravy. Make the topping from sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

Crisp, crunchy apples and celery with spiced pecans and a cider vinegar, maple dressing.

Crisp, crunchy apples and celery with spiced pecans and a cider vinegar, maple dressing.

Since pot pie is a vintage entrée, to go with it, I’ve got a lovely version of Waldorf Salad. The crisp, crunchy textures and hint of sweetness complement the chicken deliciously. And who can resist spiced pecans? The hint of maple syrup and touch of cayenne wake up the salad and bring it to a new level. Mayonnaise is the one condiment that so far has been a problem for real food, paleo peeps. Virtually all commercial mayos contain soybean or canola oils. No thanks. Making your own mayonnaise is an option, but sometimes I don’t want to be bothered. The dressing in this recipe uses heavy cream, and it’s a revelation. You could also use coconut cream. Be sure to use cider vinegar and maple syrup though. The subtle flavors enhance the apples and pecans.

For music, I’ve chosen some throwback TV themes to go with this TV dinner fave. Have fun with the menu and playlist. Hug your nearest and dearest, and here’s to a wonderful fall!

Easy-to-make, paleo-friendly homemade chicken pot pie.
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The Chicken Pot Pie They Secretly Crave
Forget the insipid frozen-food-aisle chicken pot pies of the past. Enjoy this simple and simply delicious, paleo-friendly version with succulent chicken, rich and homey gravy, vegetables worth eating, and a crisp, comforting crust.
The Chicken Pot Pie They Secretly Crave
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Forget the insipid frozen-food-aisle chicken pot pies of the past. Enjoy this simple and simply delicious, paleo-friendly version with succulent chicken, rich and homey gravy, vegetables worth eating, and a crisp, comforting crust.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
6servings 20 minutes 1hour 40minutes
Servings Prep Time
6servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 40minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. For the chicken filling:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cut-up chicken in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and crimp edges to seal tightly. Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Reserve pan drippings.
  3. While chicken is cooking start the potatoes.
  4. Place drippings and chicken broth (for a total of 3 cups) in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add frozen, peeled pearl onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove onions from broth and place in bowl large enough to hold all the vegetables. Reserve broth.
  5. Add carrots to broth and cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Remove carrots from broth and add to bowl with onions. Place broth in a separate bowl.
  6. While vegetables are cooking, remove skin and bones from chicken. Reserve bones for future broth and freeze. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  7. In now-empty saucepan, melt butter and add rice flour. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add broth and stir until gravy begins to bubble and thicken. Add heavy cream if desired. Add shredded chicken, carrots, onions and frozen peas. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Taste for seasoning.
  8. Re-heat potatoes if necessary. To serve ladle filling into shallow bowl and top with potato crust or mashed potatoes.
For the potato crust:
  1. Place cut-up potatoes in saucepan. Rinse with cold water and drain to remove excess starch. Cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain. Place back in saucepan.
  2. Mash well. (Use a ricer for completely smooth texture.) Add butter and heavy cream, taste for seasoning.
  3. If making patties, shape into six rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Brush tops with beaten eggs and sprinkle with dried potato flakes.
  4. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat, and add ghee or coconut oil for two minutes. Place potato patties, egg-side down and sauté until golden, about 6-7 minutes. Flip and cook other side until heated through about 4 minutes. Turn off heat and reserve in pan until filling is finished.
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Crisp, crunchy apples and celery with spiced pecans and a cider vinegar, maple dressing.
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Waldorf-ish Salad
This ramped-up version of the vintage fave features a creamy cider vinegar and maple syrup dressing and spicy sweet crispy pecans mixed with crunchy apples and celery. Paleo-friendly and yummy to boot!
Waldorf-ish Salad
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This ramped-up version of the vintage fave features a creamy cider vinegar and maple syrup dressing and spicy sweet crispy pecans mixed with crunchy apples and celery. Paleo-friendly and yummy to boot!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
6servings 10minutes 5minutes
Servings Prep Time
6servings 10minutes
Cook Time
5minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, add butter and maple syrup. When bubbling, add pecans and seasoning. Cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove to parchment paper lined plate, separate, and allow to cool.
  2. In serving bowl add apples and celery.
  3. Make dressing. Add heavy cream to small bowl and whisk until frothy. Add vinegar, maple syrup and seasonings. Taste and adjust if desired.
  4. Drizzle apples and celery with dressing. Sprinkle with pecans and serve.
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Paleo Smothered Short Ribs and Satusuma Sweet Potatoes

Meaty and succulent, these short ribs have delicious gravy, and they're paleo, too.

Meaty and succulent, these short ribs have delicious gravy, and they’re paleo, too.

The summer is winding down. And while it’s still very warm in southwest Louisiana by most U.S. standards, there’s a distinct seasonal change going on here. The vegetable garden is drying up; leaves are beginning to fall, and our tastes are changing, too. I was in the mood for smothered round steak and decided to vary it up. The freezer also lacked beef broth, so I thought I’d take care of both with one meat purchase.

Short ribs are a perfect choice when you want a braised beef dish with a succulent, tender bite and lots of yummy gravy. And this paleo version has a sauce that is every bit as satisfying as it is easy to prepare. Most Cajun/Creole smothered beef recipes use a dark roux, and that doesn’t fit with a paleo dish, but this sauce is no weak-kneed, runny afterthought. As you can see from the photo, the gravy is dark, glossy and you’ll have to take my word for it — delicious. My Cajun husband thought it was a fine, fine version of smothered beef.

Normally we’d serve this with rice. Did you know, the story goes that a person from Louisiana can tell by looking at a rice field, how much gravy it’ll take to cover it? Happily those of us following the Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet (PHD), can satisfy our primal desire for rice and gravy, but I’ve chosen to make this an all paleo meal. You could also serve white potatoes (also, PHD approved), but the satsuma-flavored sweet potatoes are particularly good. Satsumas are a local variety of tangerine, and the gravy marries beautifully with the sweets. If you’d rather not mess with rice or white potatoes, you won’t be missing out on a thing.

The lagniappe (a Louisiana French word meaning “a little something extra,” and pronounced lahn-yahp — think ya-ya sisterhood for the second syllable — is beef broth. If you’ve never prepared homemade broth before, please do so with this recipe. You’ll have three pounds of bones from the beef. It’s easy to make and mostly hands-free, and you’ll benefit by having one of the most nourishing foods imaginable right in your freezer when you want it.

Instead of making one big pot of soup, using up quarts of broth and having way too much in the way of leftovers, I use broth nearly every day. I add it to the liquid in rice, make sauces from pan drippings, and whip up smaller portions of soup with a few fresh vegetables, seasonings and cooked meat. By freezing the broth in ice cube trays, and storing the cubes in large zip top bags, I have as much or as little as I need. It’s not necessary to melt the cubes, just pop them in the pan. When a recipe requires a specific amount of liquid, and I want to enrich it with broth, I put the cubes in a measuring cup and add enough water to reach the level called for. Once you get used to making broth yourself, you’ll never buy the canned stuff again. And you’ll regularly fortify your immunity with this soothing, nutritious nectar.

The playlist this week is an assortment of styles, I hope you’ll fire up the tunes as well as the stove and enjoy this meal as much as we did.

Meaty and succulent, these short ribs have delicious gravy, and they're paleo, too.
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Paleo Smothered Short Ribs and Satsuma Sweet Potatoes
Succulent and tender, these paleo smothered short ribs are delicious cool-weather comfort food, and the sweet potatoes are spiked with tangerine for bright flavor.
Paleo Smothered Short Ribs and Satsuma Sweet Potatoes
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Succulent and tender, these paleo smothered short ribs are delicious cool-weather comfort food, and the sweet potatoes are spiked with tangerine for bright flavor.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
8servings 20minutes 2 1/2hours 3hours
Servings Prep Time
8servings 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 1/2hours 3hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
FOR THE SHORT RIBS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300. Remove the meat from the bones and sprinkle with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Reserve the bones for broth. Heat ghee in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Without crowding pan, brown meat in batches, about 7-8 minutes, tuning meat over halfway through. Remove the browned beef and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add diced onion. Sauté, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. Add celery and pepper, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft, but not browned.
  3. Add tomato paste and cook until the bright red color becomes reddish brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add reserved meat and stir. Add red wine and broth, stirring until ingredients are combined. Add enough water to nearly submerge the meat, but allowing the top of the meat to remain out of the liquid. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  4. Cover and put in the oven. Cook for three hours. After an hour or so, check to see if it is bubbling vigorously, if so, lower temperature to 250 for the remainder of the cooking time.
  5. Remove from oven. If desired, allow meat to cool and refrigerate.* If continuing without cooling, remove meat from cooking liquid and reserve. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables to a bowl separate from the meat and reserve.
  6. During the last half hour, cook sweet potatoes and asparagus.
  7. Pour liquid into a fat-separator and allow to settle for 5 minutes. Pour liquid (but not fat) back into the Dutch oven. Add cooked vegetables and with an immersion blender, puree until all vegetables are smooth. Taste the gravy for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add meat back to pot and rewarm.
  8. *If refrigerating before continuing on, remove congealed fat and remove the meat and set it aside. Heat the vegetables and liquid in a Dutch oven to a simmer. With an immersion blender, puree vegetables until smooth. Add the meat to the gravy and simmer until meat is completely warmed through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if desired.
FOR THE SWEET POTATOES:
  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sweet potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Mash, taste for seasoning and serve.
FOR THE ASPARAGUS:
  1. Heat a ridged grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add asparagus and cook, tossing every few minutes until slightly charred. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until desired tenderness is reached. Add butter and season.
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Homemade beef broth is handy for soups and sauces when frozen in cubes.
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Homemade Beef Broth
Homemade Beef Broth
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Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
2quarts 5minutes 24 hours 24hours
Servings Prep Time
2quarts 5minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
24 hours 24hours
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. beef bones
  • 1 medium onion washed, but not peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 medium carrots washed, ends trimmed, but not peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery washed and cut into chunks
Servings: quarts
Units:
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. beef bones
  • 1 medium onion washed, but not peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 medium carrots washed, ends trimmed, but not peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery washed and cut into chunks
Servings: quarts
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Add bones and vegetables to roasting pan. Roast for one hour.
  2. Place roasted bones and vegetables in a slow cooker or stock pot. Cover with water. Pour off fat, but not meaty bits from roasting pan. Add about a cup of water. On top of the stove over medium high heat, bring water to a boil, scraping up pan drippings. Add to crock or stock pot. Simmer on low heat for 24 hours, skimming foam from top of pot if necessary.
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove bones and vegetable pieces and discard. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour broth through the strainer. Allow to settle. When cool, refrigerate if desired, to allow fat to come to the surface and congeal.
  4. When cold, skim fat from surface, reserving if desired to use as cooking fat. Ladle broth into ice cube trays, freeze and store cubes in large zip top bag. Label bag with contents and date.
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Dinner and a Movie – Italian Style.

Italian poached fish with slow-roasted tomatoes and broccoli rabe with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.

Italian poached fish with slow-roasted tomatoes and broccoli rabe with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.

 

This week’s bill of fare features entertainment as well as food. We have a menu of unusual dishes and a film for foodies, mid-century Americana buffs, and lovers of all things Italian. The menu is acqua pazza or crazy water fish and greens; risi e bisi, a delicious rice and pea side dish; and panna cotta – the original version without gelatin.

Rice flavored with green pea purée, prosciutto, parmesan and lemon.

Rice flavored with green pea purée, prosciutto, parmesan and lemon.

The movie is “Big Night,” written by and starring Stanley Tucci, as well as Tony Shalhoub, who play restaurateur brothers with dreams to impress trumpeter Louis Prima and his entourage, in turn jumpstarting the success of their restaurant. High jinks ensue as plans go askew.  The film earned many awards and was a commercial and critical hit. To get you in the mood, there’s a playlist of tunes to enjoy as you make dinner.

Traditional-style panna cotta made without gelatin and served with crème anglaise and fruit purée.

Traditional-style panna cotta made without gelatin and served with crème anglaise and fruit purée.

Making the panna cotta the day before will streamline dinner preparations and using refrigerated, cooked rice not only eliminates a step in the side dish, but gives you the benefit of resistant starch. Gently reheating rice or potatoes lowers its glycemic impact and boosts your immune system … nice, rice!!

The main course features an old technique of Italian fishermen who scooped up seawater and cooked tomatoes, olive oil and seasonings into a sauce for poaching fish. In most versions, the sauce is cooked down for upwards of an hour, and the fish cooked briefly in the strong sauce. I’ve lightened up the process and slowed down the cooking by putting all the ingredients in an oven-safe skillet and roasting them at a low 200 degrees for an hour. The fish stays moist and tender; the tomatoes are fresh and delicious, and it couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Buon appetito!!

Italian poached fish with slow-roasted tomatoes and broccoli rabe with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.
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Crazy Water Fish and Greens
Italian poached fish with slow-roasted tomatoes and broccoli rabe with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.
Crazy Water Fish and Greens
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Italian poached fish with slow-roasted tomatoes and broccoli rabe with pancetta and balsamic vinegar.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 15minutes 1hour 45minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 45minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
For the fish:
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. In an oven-safe skillet large enough to allow the fish to lie flat without overlapping, add water, olive oil garlic or shallots, tomatoes and salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
  2. Nestle fish into sauce ingredients and place in oven. Roast for one hour or until fish is firm and flakes easily with a fork. Serve with greens.
For the greens:
  1. About 15 minutes before the fish is done, place 12-inch skillet over medium heat and sauté pancetta and garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Rinse broccoli rabe so that water clings to the leaves and stems. Add to skillet, cover and cook, stirring and turning every few minutes until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.
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Rice flavored with green pea purée, prosciutto, parmesan and lemon.
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Risi e Bisi
This hint-of-spring side dish features leftover, cooked rice, peas, prosciutto, parmesan and lemon juice.
Risi e Bisi
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This hint-of-spring side dish features leftover, cooked rice, peas, prosciutto, parmesan and lemon juice.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 5-7minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
5-7minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a blender, purée defrosted peas. Remove from blender jar and set aside. (For a rustic texture, peas can be mashed.)
  2. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add prosciutto and garlic and sauté without browning for 30 seconds. Add rice, breaking up clumps if necessary and warm until heated through, 3-5 minutes. By spoonfuls, add broth as needed to moisten.
  3. Add parmesan and combine thoroughly, until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add peas or pea purée and combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and mix well. Serve garnished with whole peas, parmesan and prosciutto strips, if desired.
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Traditional-style panna cotta made without gelatin and served with crème anglaise and fruit purée.
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Panna Cotta with Crème Anglaise
Panna cotta means cooked cream, though most recipes now use gelatin and are not cooked. This baked version is like a deconstructed custard. The egg whites are used in the base and the yolks in the sauce. Garnish with your favorite fruit or fruit purée. I use Xyla (organic xylitol instead of sugar) for sweetness and honey for flavor.
Panna Cotta with Crème Anglaise
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Panna cotta means cooked cream, though most recipes now use gelatin and are not cooked. This baked version is like a deconstructed custard. The egg whites are used in the base and the yolks in the sauce. Garnish with your favorite fruit or fruit purée. I use Xyla (organic xylitol instead of sugar) for sweetness and honey for flavor.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 15minutes 1 1/2hours 1 1/2hours
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1 1/2hours 1 1/2hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the milk, cream, honey, and Xyla. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, about 45-60 minutes. Add vanilla and stir.
  2. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Bring a quart of water to boil. Add lightly beaten egg whites and combine thoroughly. Set 4 buttered (can also use coconut oil) custard cups in a baking pan with sides at least 2 inches high. Fill cups with mixture. Carefully add boiling water to pan, until the level comes three fourths of the way up the cups. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove cups from the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature, cover and chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve.
For the crème anglaise:
  1. Half fill a large bowl with ice cubes. Add enough water to keep ice cubes loose. Set a mixing bowl into the ice bath, making sure no water will splash into the bowl. Place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and set up near the stove.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and Xyla. In a medium sauce pan, add milk and pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Ladle 1/2 cup of milk into the egg yolks and whisk; this tempers the egg and keeps it from scrambling. Add egg mixture to hot milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Pour into strainer into the bowl over the ice bath. Whisk until cool, about 5-7 minutes. Remove bowl from ice, cover and chill until ready to serve.
  3. Add sauce to custard cups and garnish with fruit or fruit purée.
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