Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dairy-Free Italian Cream Sauce, AKA Awesome Sauce

I cannot tell you how excited I am to share this recipe with you!!! But first, a little story.

Long before I was a twinkle in my mother's eye, she took a cooking class. She learned many French-style recipes, which, of course, meant lots of cheese, cream, and butter. I loved those recipes. Decadent, flavorful masterpieces.

My all-time favorite was Spaghetti Nest, made by cooking whole chicken breasts in Italian seasoning and then adding flour, sour cream, and wine to the leftover juices in the pan to make a delicious gravy, which we poured over the chicken and the spaghetti, which had been smothered in butter and Parmesan cheese and lightly toasted in the oven. I could have eaten it every day of my life. I'm talking serious noms here.

Fast forward to present day, and I'm following the autoimmune protocol, doing my best to heal from 25 years of Crohn's disease.

Goodbye, cheese. Goodbye, cream. Goodbye, butter. <sob>

But not goodbye to flavor. I've learned how to add lots of flavor to my cooking. I just had to do without those specific flavors. Until NOW.

Without further ado, I present to you one of my greatest sources of dietary happiness. I hope you love this recipe as much as our family does!

1/2 cup chicken drippings**
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (if you are AIP, avoid mixes that contain paprika)
1/4 cup white wine
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 Tablespoon tapioca starch

1. Pour the white wine into a skillet (you want a nice, wide surface area to cook off the alcohol and also to heat the sauce evenly after you've added the tapioca starch). Heat to boiling and then simmer on low for 1-2 minutes, until it has mostly evaporated. You can skip this step if cooking off the alcohol isn't necessary for you.
2. Add the chicken drippings and Italian seasoning and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
3. In a small bowl, mix the coconut milk and tapioca starch until no lumps remain. Pour the mixture into the pan and stir until well blended.
4. Heat the sauce on low, stirring constantly just until it thickens, and then turn off the heat. (Do not let the sauce come to a boil, unless you want your nice thick sauce to become a thin soup. I learned this the hard way.) If the sauce becomes gloopy, you can blitz it in a blender for a few seconds.
5. Serve it on chicken, spaghetti, spaghetti squash, or zoodles. Pour it over your broccoli. Heck, I've even dipped cassava chips in it! (My two-year-old likes to dip her fingers in it and use it like body butter, but then, she is two...)

*This recipe doesn't double well due to the amount of time it takes to evaporate the wine. Of course, if you're not evaporating the wine, double away!
**I find that the best flavor comes from the juices on the bottom of the pan after roasting a chicken: a bit of fat and and a bit of saltiness (assuming you add salt when you roast chicken, which you totally should because it's more awesome that way). I've tried using chicken broth. Don't bother. It just doesn't have the richness this sauce needs.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nightshade-Free Chicken Curry

Living in Malaysia has taught me many things: how to manage without hot water at the kitchen sink, remembering to wear closed shoes at the market, being organized about laundry during monsoon season. But the best thing about Malaysia is the food. Hands down. These people can cook.

When I came to Malaysia, I was not on any kind of dietary restrictions, so I tried everything. I even went to a cooking class, where I learned how to make traditional Malay curry. It was an amazing recipe, with a gorgeous warm earthiness from the spices and coconut milk.

Now that I'm on the autoimmune protocol, traditional curry - with its seed spices and nightshades - is off the menu. So I decided to take another look at that recipe I learned years ago and leave out the seed spices and nightshades. You know, just to see what happens. Turns out, you can make a pretty awesome curry without those things. What I did still include was the berry/fruit spices, since they are only on the "be cautious" list. They add a lot of flavor to the curry, so if you can tolerate them, I recommend leaving them in.

I also cut up and added about 2 cups of a local gourd to my pot. Feel free to add chunks of carrot, pumpkin, potato (if tolerated), or cassava. These are all traditionally used in local cooking, so the flavors will blend nicely.

½ cup high-temperature cooking oil
5 cardamom seeds
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (3" in length)
2 medium shallots (mine were 2" in diameter)
4 cloves garlic
100g ginger (1/3 cup)
15g turmeric root (2 Tbsp)
4 chicken drumsticks or thighs
1½ cups coconut milk
½ cup water
½ - 1 tsp salt

1. Put on your apron. Peel your turmeric root, ginger, garlic, and shallots. Put them into a blender or small food processor with a little water, and puree until fairly smooth. (I used the mini blender that came with my food processor set.)
2. In a large cooking pot, heat the cooking oil, and fry the spices for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat, and add the shallot, garlic, ginger, and turmeric pastes.
3. Cook on low heat until aromatic, being careful not to burn the mixture.
4. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Add vegetables, if using.
5. Pour in the coconut milk and water.
6. Simmer until chicken is tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Sprinkle in salt and stir well.
8. Serve hot.