Archive | April, 2016

Paleo Fried Chicken and Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

Paleo Fried Chicken: a basket of nourishing, delicious Southern Comfort.

Paleo Fried Chicken: a basket of nourishing, delicious Southern Comfort.

Y’all. When it comes to Southern comfort, fried chicken is king. And for paleo peeps, it’s so hard to turn down the old favorite. But we know better. And now we have it all: perfectly seasoned, juicy chicken in a crackling crisp coating that will satisfy all your fried chicken dreams.

Crispy, crackly Paleo Fried Chicken!

Crispy, crackly Paleo Fried Chicken!

It’s been a long journey to put this recipe together. But I think once you’ve made and tasted this most excellent version, it will be your go-to favorite. It started while I was watching a chefsteps.com video about their best fried chicken. Chefsteps is cuckoo for sous vide cooking. And rightfully so. Here’s the video to see what got my wheels turning. But a sous vide set up isn’t a common kitchen tool, and I wanted to find a way to make the idea accessible to all. Having the chicken already perfectly cooked and then frying the chicken for only a couple of minutes made sense for several reasons.

Now Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe in this month’s magazine for Lemon Chicken that uses the technique of sautéing the bird pieces until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp, then finishing the cooking in the oven. I made sure to cook the white meat only to 160 degrees F., and the dark parts to 170. Even though the chicken’s final fry is a mere minutes, I didn’t want the chicken to be overcooked. I also used two methods before the fry: one batch of chicken had just come out of the oven and I let it cool down on the counter for about 20 minutes, so it wouldn’t be screaming hot when I put it in the batter. The other batch I’d cooked the day before and refrigerated. I also put it out on the counter, in this case, so it would come up in temperature and not be stone cold. Both worked beautifully.

Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.

Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.

There’s no standing over three quarts of hot grease for upwards of 30 minutes per batch, and since healthy oils are not cheap,  there’s no need to spend a lot of money on this homey dish. Because you’re only cooking the coating, you only need about a cup and a half of coconut oil (you could also use lard … ummm …. yum!) And it only takes 2-3 minutes per side to achieve crackly perfection.

Ready to batter and fry.

Ready to batter and fry.

So then onto the batter.

This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!

This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!

One of the drawbacks to paleo cooking can be using substitute ingredients for things like wheat flour. Alternative flours often taste like their origin: coconut and almond for example. And these flavors can be very welcome in certain preparations, but truthfully, fried chicken isn’t one of them. Enter the master geeks at America’s Test Kitchen. A few months ago they published a paleo cookbook, Paleo Perfected. There are 150 recipes, most of which are not new approaches to paleo dishes. Scrambled eggs with sausage and peppers, bison chili, pan-roasted chicken with zucchini and tomatoes … these are pretty basic and common. But the few recipes that address flour-based favorites, are what I wanted to explore. And the fried chicken batter delivers in spades.

The downside to the America’s Test Kitchen recipe is that they don’t use whole chicken parts. It’s a recipe for chicken fingers. And let’s face it. That’s okay for kids, but real deal fried chicken means bones and skin. By combining chefsteps idea of pre-cooking, and using Cook’s Illustrated’s sauté and roasting method, plus their paleo batter, I think I’ve got the fried chicken hat trick.

Keep the coconut oil around 375 degrees F.

Keep the coconut oil around 375 degrees F.

Let the crispiness begin!

Let the crispiness begin!

There is just a hint of almond flavor that pretty much disappears after the first couple of bites. And unlike other paleo coatings and batters I’ve tried, this one is actually crunchy. It was still crunchy at room temperature and I re-warmed a few pieces for lunch the next day and the crispiness was all there. Harris loved this chicken. His only comment was that it was too mild. So ramp up the black pepper and cayenne, and use your own favorite flavors … this recipe can take the heat.

I do hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

So what Southern icon could be more complementary to fried chicken? Strawberry Shortcake. Here I used a reader-requested cupcake recipe in Bon Appétit from the California bakery, Mustache Baked Goods. It isn’t sugar heavy; the texture is perfect; the berries only need a kiss of honey; and the topping is either whipped coconut or heavy cream.

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

Paleo Strawberry Shortcake

For a tangy, fresh contrast to the chicken, make my Sneaky Coleslaw. Then it’s picnic time!!

Sneaky Coleslaw

Sneaky Coleslaw

With this country meal, you’ve gotta have some country tunes. With the exception of Willie and Merle, the artists are new. I think you’ll like their tunes.

All the flavor and crunch: none of the guilt.
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Paleo Fried Chicken
Paleo Fried Chicken: Never envy the fast food empires any longer. Here it is: crunchy, crispy, juicy and seasoned to perfection. And all paleo, all the time! For superior results, use a pasture-roaming chicken. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Paleo Perfected.
Paleo Fried Chicken
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Paleo Fried Chicken: Never envy the fast food empires any longer. Here it is: crunchy, crispy, juicy and seasoned to perfection. And all paleo, all the time! For superior results, use a pasture-roaming chicken. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Paleo Perfected.
Servings
4servings
Servings
4servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Using a meat pounder or a small heavy skillet, pound the thick end of the breast pieces to about 1/2 inch so all pieces will cook uniformly. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the skillet and add chicken pieces. Do not crowd. Make two batches if necessary. Place chicken, skin side down and cook without moving for 8-10 minutes until skin is deep golden and crisp. Remove white meat from skillet and reserve. Turn dark meat pieces over and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes.Paleo Fried Chicken: the first sear.
  3. Add white meat back to skillet, skin side up. Place in oven and roast 10-12 minutes, checking that the temperature of the white meat is just barely 160 degrees F. and the dark meat registers 170 degrees. Remove from the oven. Place chicken pieces, skin side up on a plate and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Alternatively, cook the chicken up to two days prior to frying and refrigerate. About 20 minutes before frying, remove chicken from the refrigerator and set on a plate at room temperature.
  4. To make the batter: in a large bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder, almond flour, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne. Whisk in the seltzer water and let sit for 15 minutes. This is necessary for the batter to properly hydrate.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Or lower the temperature to 200 degrees if you have just roasted the chicken. Place wire rack over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Ready to batter and fry.
  6. Whisk in cream of tartar and baking soda. Using a deep, medium-sized sauce pan, melt 1 1/2 cups coconut oil. Be sure the level reaches just over half way up the thickest piece of chicken. This depends on the size of the pan. If needed, add additional coconut oil. Heat oil to 375 degrees F.This coating leads to Paleo Fried Chicken greatness!
  7. One piece at a time, coat the chicken in the batter and allow the excess to drip off. Gently place the chicken in the coconut oil Do not crowd the pan. The temperature will drop when the chicken is added, but must remain at or near 375 degrees or it will be greasy. Fry chicken for 2-3 minutes or until deep golden brown. Flip pieces over and fry an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken to baking sheet in the oven.Let the crispiness begin!
  8. Continue frying the remaining chicken. Serve hot or at room temperature.All the flavor and crunch: none of the guilt.
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
Paleo Strawberry Shortcake: Light, airy almond cakes topped with honey-sweetened strawberries and whipped coconut or heavy cream.
Paleo Strawberry Shortcake
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Paleo Strawberry Shortcake: Light, airy almond cakes topped with honey-sweetened strawberries and whipped coconut or heavy cream.
Servings
18servings
Servings
18servings
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Lightly coat edges of cups and tops of 3 standard 6-cup muffin pans with nonstick spray and line with paper liners.
  2. Use finely ground almond flour or sift regular almond flour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard any large pieces. Whisk in baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt. 

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and whisk in almond-flour mixture and 2 tsp. vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes, rotating pans top to bottom halfway through, until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 15–20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool.
  4. To assemble: cut cakes in half horizontally. Spoon berries on top of bottom half. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Top with remaining cake and top with additional cream and berries.
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Sneaky Coleslaw
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Sneaky Coleslaw
My house recipe for coleslaw. Great with any roast meat, fish or birds.
Sneaky Coleslaw
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My house recipe for coleslaw. Great with any roast meat, fish or birds.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add onion and vinegar. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, add cabbage, carrot, sauerkraut and drained onion. Reserve vinegar for dressing. Mix together the mayonnaise (or olive oil), stevia, and seasonings. Pour over vegetables and toss to combine. Taste, adding vinegar or other seasonings as desired.
  2. Sneaky Coleslaw
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Muffuletta Pork Chops and Zydeco Green Beans

Muffuletta Pork Chops and Zydeco Green Beans

Muffuletta Pork Chops and Zydeco Green Beans

Way, way back in the day, folks in Acadiana would hold a bal de maison, or house dance for their friends and neighbors. You’d let everybody know by putting a flag on your fence by the road. Food was served and it was a night of music and socializing for the whole family. Another name for these dances is fais do do, which is Louisiana-French baby talk for “go to sleep.” Baby sitters weren’t a thing then, but the dances would run late. So the kids would pile into a back room to sleep. As kids are wont to do, they often popped up and ran back out into the action, and their mamas would admonish them by saying, “fais do do,” so she could get back to the fun.

Occasionally the fare served at the dance was meager. So the host might pass the word that, les haricots sont pas salé, “the green beans aren’t salty,” meaning that the beans were without pork. In French, les haricots would be pronounced, “lay zarico,” and eventually zarico morphed into zydeco and became the name for the music that was played at the dance. Originally French-speaking Cajuns and Creoles all played the same music. Starting at the end of World War II, Cajun music kind of went country and zydeco picked up on rhythm and blues.

My recipe for Zydeco Green Beans is made with tasso, but you could use bacon or pancetta. And instead of white (or as they say around here, Irish) potatoes, you can substitute sweet.

Zydeco Green Beans

Zydeco Green Beans

For the pork chops, we salute New Orleans and their iconic sandwich, the muffuletta. Not especially paleo, the muffuletta’s signature element is the olive salad. I love salsas and relishes with meat and poultry, and this addition makes for a nice change from gravy or a pan sauce. The whole meal is quick and easy, and delicious, too.

Muffuletta Pork Chops Seasoned

Muffuletta Pork Chops Seasoned

My playlist reflects the dishes with tunes by bands that play in and around New Orleans and a bunch of my favorite zydeco songs. Originally the playlist was two-and-a-half hours long, and obviously I’ve left out whole genres of Louisiana music. If I’d included the many forms of jazz, swamp pop, and Cajun, there’d be two-and-a-half days of music … with too much left out. So this will give you a taste.

Just a note and maybe you have some feedback for me. Since November my posts haven’t been as consistently scheduled as I’d like. The writing, recipe creation, music and website aspects are not a problem, but the photography has been. At first I started with just my iPhone 4, and after six months, darling Harris gave me a DSLR for Christmas. I tried learning to use it on my own through Internet searches and online courses. I was beginning to see some success, especially by having my a few of my photos accepted by foodgawker.com, but it was hit or miss. Then I had some private lessons with a professional photographer, got a macro lens and started on a new photo journey. The lens is amazing, but my “studio” lacks good lighting. And the lens is tricky to work with.

I think I’ve finally figured out a better system for the light, and we’ll see how it goes with foodgawker. It’s frustrating to know I’ve got to go back and re-shoot so many photos from the early posts, while trying to keep up with new ones. And foodgawker is vital to my becoming known in the enormous world of recipe blogs, as it has been responsible for some of my recipes being featured on sites like paleoleap.com and paleogrubs.com and new subscribers have found me through them.

What do you think? Any advice? I know photos are super important. Thank you for any words of wisdom you might have!

Muffuletta Pork Chops

Muffuletta Pork Chops

 

Muffuletta Pork Chops and Zydeco Green Beans
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Muffuletta Pork Chops
Muffuletta Pork Chops salute NOLA with the addition of savory olive salad. Giardiniera (pickled cauliflower, celery, peppers and onions) can be found in the pickle section of the super market. Cook the pork chops in my Cajun Country ghee for extra flavor!
Muffuletta Pork Chops
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Muffuletta Pork Chops salute NOLA with the addition of savory olive salad. Giardiniera (pickled cauliflower, celery, peppers and onions) can be found in the pickle section of the super market. Cook the pork chops in my Cajun Country ghee for extra flavor!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Season pork chops and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, melt the ghee. Add the pork chops and brown, without moving, for 5 minutes. Turn the chops and brown the second side, 5 minutes.
  3. Place skillet in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the chops with an instant read thermometer. This will depend on the thickness of the chops. They should be 160 degrees F. If needed, continue to cook, checking temperature every 5 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately, topped with olive salad.
  5. Giardiniera
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Zydeco Green Beans
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Zydeco Green Beans
Snappy, salty and delicious, Zydeco Green Beans add a two-for-one side dish for meat, poultry or seafood. Et toi!
Zydeco Green Beans
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Snappy, salty and delicious, Zydeco Green Beans add a two-for-one side dish for meat, poultry or seafood. Et toi!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
4servings 10minutes 30minutes 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 20minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 medium potatoes white or sweet, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb green beans trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil or lard
  • 4 oz tasso chopped, or bacon or pancetta
  • Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste, or salt, pepper and cayenne
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
  • 2 medium potatoes white or sweet, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb green beans trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil or lard
  • 4 oz tasso chopped, or bacon or pancetta
  • Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste, or salt, pepper and cayenne
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. In a medium to large sauce pan add potatoes and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add green beans and continue cooking until beans and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain vegetables and set aside. Return sauce pan to the stove and add ghee over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
  4. Add tasso and cook for 5 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. Add potatoes and beans and toss, heating everything through and add Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste.
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