Jambalaya

Happy Monday, everyone.  If you’re a mom, I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day.  If you’re not, I hope you got to spend time with your mom (or the closest thing you have to one) to make her day special.  My day was just lovely, thanks to my wonderful husband and children.  I spent a lot of time relaxing, and when I wasn’t relaxing I was cooking.

Don’t judge; it’s what I wanted to be doing.

At any rate, this was not one of the things I cooked; this is what we had for dinner Saturday night.  I had shrimp in the freezer leftover from the Bang Bang Shrimp a couple of weeks ago, and had been thinking about how to use it.  It’s been pretty cool in this part of the country for the last few days, so something warm and comforting seemed to be in order.  Combine that with the fact that our local natural food store carries Applegate Farms Andouille Sausage (yeah, it’s made with chicken and turkey but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste great), and Jambalaya seemed like a wonderful idea.

And it was.  Even The Young One wolfed this down, and I have a feeling there’s going to be a battle for the leftovers today at lunch.  It was simply delicious, as well as easy – you see the list of ingredients is a bit long, but don’t let that deter you; the actual directions are pretty short.  And it all comes together quickly – once the ingredients are prepped, which is simply some dicing and chopping – the whole thing comes together in about half an hour.  Not bad for one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes.

Now, this has rice in it, but that’s simply because I think Jambalaya really needs it.  I’ve made this in the past with grated cauliflower and the flavors are there, but it’s just not the same – cauliflower doesn’t soak up the liquid, or the taste, the way rice does, and the texture simply isn’t right.  And since white rice is pretty inoffensive as grains go, I don’t see any harm in indulging in it occasionally (which we do once or twice a month).

You can make this with the cauliflower if you like:  omit the water, reduce the chicken stock to 3 cups and add 1 1/2 cups of grated cauliflower to the stew when you add the proteins, and just cook it for the 10 minutes specified.  It’s even quicker this way, and comes in at about 15 grams of carbohydrates – it will be Whole30, too.

Note:  Jambalaya should be made with Creole seasoning, but I cannot find it anywhere in my area so I use Cajun seasoning instead.  Use whichever you like, although it won’t be “authentic” with the Cajun stuff.

Jambalaya. Hearty, satisfying and deeply flavorful, this is soul food at its finest.

Jambalaya
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 6 oz Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the shrimp, chicken and Cajun seasoning; work the seasoning in well. Set aside.
  2. Heat the ghee in a small stock pot over medium heat and cook the onion, pepper and celery until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in the chicken broth, water and rice.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice is almost tender. Add the seasoned shrimp and chicken and the sausage; continue cooking, uncovered, until meat is done, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional Cajun seasoning, as needed, before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 409 calories, 15.9g total fat, 137.2mg cholesterol, 1158.3mg sodium, 564.5mg potassium, 37.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 27.3g protein

 

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers

Warning:  This recipe could be dangerous to your health.

Bet you never thought you’d see that here, did you?

No, it’s not the chicken livers; if you’ve been hanging around here any length of time at all, you know I love me some variety meats (I may be making another tongue this weekend, or maybe a beef heart – aren’t you excited?).  And the chicken livers I used to make this dish were just about as fresh as they could be – they were residing in their pastured owners a mere 6 hours earlier.

Our poultry farmer raises not only laying hens, but broilers as well – you can drive up to his front door any afternoon and see the laying hens running amok around the barnyard (and lately, the apple trees), and the broilers in their covered pens in whichever field he has them that day.  If you’re lucky, there will be turkeys, too, and you can go out and say howdy to Thanksgiving dinner, as well.

He processes six times a summer; while they keep their laying hens year-round, they only raise the broilers in the summer, since they don’t do so well in cold weather – they just won’t grow, since all of their energy is used to keep themselves warm.  At any rate, we get six chickens each time they process and cozy them up in the freezer with our pork, beef, goat and venison, if we’re lucky enough to be gifted a deer (and have I mentioned I’m trying to source a llama?).  We often order the feet from the birds for our homemade chicken stock, and we’ll take livers if we can get them, too.

We got them yesterday, and I made this. Which is why I’ve added a warning to go along with it.

It seems that because chicken livers have so much moisture they cause the fat in your pan to splatter and splash – sometimes very violently.  And do I have a splatter screen?  I do not.

I do however, have a lot of burn ointment.

It was very much worth it, though, because these were absolutely wonderful.  I wanted seconds, which is rare for me, and I practically had to fight not only Beloved, but The Young One as well, to get some – you should have seen the kid wolf these things down.  Chicken livers have a much, much milder flavor than beef liver, and these were just so fresh and tender it was amazing.  I served them with homemade barbecue sauce, but next time I think I’ll do a nice (dairy free) pan gravy.

Yum, yum.

Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Crispy Fried Chicken Livers
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups tallow or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk and water together in a large mixing bowl. Drop the livers in the egg/milk mixture; cover loosely and allow to sit for about half an hour.
  2. In a large, shallow dish, stir together the tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Drain the egg/milk mixture from the chicken livers, and dredge them in the seasoned tapioca flour.
  3. Heat the tallow in a heavy skillet – preferably cast iron – over high heat until it reaches 350 F. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Fry the chicken livers, in batches if necessary, for 6 to 7 minutes, carefully turning once halfway through – cover the skillet with a splatter screen, because the fat will splash and splatter.
  5. Remove the livers to paper towels and drain briefly. Serve with barbecue sauce, hot sauce or salsa if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 452 calories, 33.4g total fat, 442.4mg cholesterol, 1269.4mg sodium, 307.2mg potassium, 16.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 20.4g protein

 

Braised Barbecue Round Steak

There are a lot of recipes in my Real SAD section – all those dishes of a bygone era, at least for us.

Or most of them; while the majority are simply hopeless (I’m looking at you, Peanut Butter Fudge and Monkey Bread), there are a few that can be modified to fit our lifestyle now.

This is one of those recipes.  It personified “comfort food” when I was growing up, but when I look at the original recipe now, I just cringe.  Vegetable oil?  Canned cream of tomato soup?  Brown sugar?  No.  And no.  And no.

Fortunately, barbecue sauces are one of the easiest things to conform to “real food” parameters, and it was no problem at all to slightly tweak my Maple Barbecue Sauce recipe for this recipe (i.e. reduce the amount of maple syrup a little).  The addition of the beef bone broth (you DO have some homemade beef bone broth in your freezer or pantry, right?) not only punches up the nutritional value, but adds a depth of flavor that was entirely missing from the dish of my childhood.  And while it may not be as inexpensive or easy to make as the old recipe, it still is inexpensive and easy.

And comforting and delicious.

Note:  Bottom round is preferable for this recipe; top round tends to get a little tough and chewy when braised.

Braised Barbecue Round Steak
Braised Barbecue Round Steak
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon tallow or other cooking fat
  • 2 pounds round steak, cut into 8 equal pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lard or butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
Instructions
  1. Melt the tallow in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with the salt and pepper; place in the skillet and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Melt the lard in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and apple cider vinegar, then the beef stock.
  4. Return the steaks, along with any juices that collected on the plate, to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the steak is tender,uncovering for the last 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  5. Serve over mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or steamed rice.
Calories: 289; Fat: 10.6 g; Saturated fat: 4.02 g; Carbohydrates: 19.93 g; Sugar: 15.8 g; Fiber: 1.32 g; Protein: 27.86 g; Cholesterol: 80.76 g

 

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

Yes – chicken fried steak.

With gravy.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made chicken fried steak, which is really a shame because Beloved, The Young One and I all really love it.  But I thought once I’d given up grains and dairy that I’d never have it again, and that made me sad – chicken fried steak may be the state dish of Oklahoma, but we Texans are quite fond of it, as well, and it’s literally been years since I’ve eaten any.

But when we were watching Patty be cut up a couple of weeks ago, I was watching them slice our round steaks when a thought popped into my head.

“Hey, can you tenderize some of that?”

I’d no sooner asked, when they whipped out this contraption:

Meat Tenderizer

And before I knew it, half of our round steaks had been tenderized, and I was thinking about how to make grain-free, dairy-free chicken fried steak.  With gravy.

And all was right with the world.

The actual cooking of the dish went fairly smoothly once I’d decided how I was going to go about it.  Now, for those readers with nut allergies (hi, Keith!), I used almond milk for the gravy but you could use So Delicious ® Unsweetened Coconut Beverage, or even just dilute canned coconut milk with water and it should work just fine (I may use the latter option myself next time).  I will say that I wasn’t sure about the gravy when I tasted it by itself – it just doesn’t taste like a gravy made with milk (of course) – but once it was on the steak, it was all wonderful.  I really couldn’t have been more pleased.

This is neither low calorie nor low carb – I don’t think anyone would classify chicken fried steak as “health food” under any circumstance – but as an occasional treat, it is a delicious comfort food alternative for those of us who do not consume grains or dairy, either by choice or necessity.

Note:  if you want to sub the tapioca and almond milk with flour and cow’s milk, go right ahead – the recipe is pretty much the basic one for chicken fried steak.  With gravy.

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds round steak, cut into 6 equal pieces and tenderized
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk or other milk substitute
  • 2 cups tallow
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 cups almond milk or other milk substitute, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Melt the tallow in a large, heavy skillet over high heat; bring to 350 F.
  2. Stir the salt, pepper and tapioca flour together in a shallow dish. Whisk together the eggs and 1/2 cup almond milk or milk substitute in a medium bowl until well blended.
  3. Dredge the pieces of steak in the tapioca flour, shaking off the excess. Dip them in the egg mixture, then coat them again with the seasoned tapioca.
  4. Place the steaks in the tallow and fry until they are brown and crispy, and the steak is just cooked through, turning once. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate and keep warm.
  5. Place two tablespoons of the remaining tallow in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk the two tablespoons of tapioca starch into the 2 cups of room temperature almond milk or milk substitute, then whisk the tapioca mixture slowly and steadily into the tallow in the saucepan. Cook, stirring continuously, until the gravy reaches desired consistency; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Plate each steak and spoon the gravy over the top. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 440 calories, 21.8g total fat, 175.6mg cholesterol, 377.8mg sodium, 616.1mg potassium, 22.2g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, <1g sugar, 36.2g protein.

 

Grain-Free Stuffing

Thanksgiving just doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving without some kind of dressing/stuffing (you can read about the difference between the two here).

Since we’re avoiding gluten and I’m avoiding cow’s dairy this Turkey Day come hell or high water – no meal, no matter how celebratory, is worth how I’ll feel afterwards if I consume either – this has posed something of a problem, especially since I’m not overly fond of sausage stuffings and won’t touch an oyster with a 10-foot pole.  I want my cornbread dressing, darn it!

So, in my desperation, I began formulating a stuffing/dressing recipe using my Savory Almond Flour Muffins (sorry about the nuts, Christi!) following my grandmother’s original recipe.  And it works – to an extent.  It tastes pretty much spot-on; like the cornbread dressing I’ve been making for years and years (I’ve made it so often I don’t even need to glance at the recipe any longer).

The texture, however, leaves a little something to be desired.  Because almonds have a fairly high fat content, the finished product is a bit oily and nut breads just don’t absorb liquid the way a grain-based bread does, so it’s not so much moist as just a tad soupy.  It’s not going to “hold together” the way a grain-based bread stuffing/dressing will, either, but despite these caveats (I don’t want to call them drawbacks) it’s an excellent dish made with wholesome, real ingredients and is certainly an option for those who cannot or will not eat grains, or need a low-carb stuffing/dressing substitute.

Note #1:  You should be able to mitigate the “soupiness” of the dish (which really isn’t that bad) by reducing the amount of chicken stock called for, but don’t eliminate it or the flavor will suffer.  It might “hold together” a little better, too, with the addition of an extra egg.  Don’t be afraid to tweak the recipe to your liking.  Also, I don’t normally add dried cranberries to my dressing but thought they might help add some interest to the dish – and they did – but you can always leave them out.

Note #2: The carb count is with dried unsweetened cranberries; if you add sweetened ones like Craisins, the carb count will triple.  Without any cranberries, the carb count drops to about 8 grams per serving, with about 3 grams of fiber.

Grain-Free Stuffing

Grain-Free Stuffing

serves 8

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt and baking soda. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs and honey. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture, beating lightly by hand with a wooden spoon, until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the almond bread from the dish; set aside and cool completely. Cut into 1″ cubes and allow to sit out, uncovered, overnight until very stale. (Alternately, set the cubes in a 200 F oven for half an hour, stirring every 10 minutes, until dry.)

Melt the bacon fat or butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; sauté the onion and celery until the onion is translucent, but not brown.

Place the cubed almond bread in a large bowl; pour the onion/celery mixture over the almond bread and add the eggs, seasonings and dried cranberries. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring well, until the mixture is very moist. Spread in a baking dish or small roasting pan and bake 30 minutes, or until brown on top and hot all the way through.

Nutrition (per serving): 288 calories, 22.8g total fat, 121.1mg cholesterol, 1825.6mg sodium, 297.2mg potassium, 11.2g carbohydrates, 3.4g fiber, 5.1g sugar, 5.8g protein.

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Posted in participation of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday