Slow food, locavores, raw food, clean eating, sustainable food. Of all the various
food movements happening right now, one could easily argue that the Paleo/Primal movement is among the more popular. One needn’t follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for long before realizing that there’s a LOT of crossover between the SCD and Paleo crowds. Not surprising, really, given that their respective lists of legal and illegal foods are very similar, despite the fact that the two ways of eating exist for entirely different reasons.
Armed with that knowledge, I found myself browsing the Paleo section at Powell’s Books. After all, there are precious few SCD cookbooks out there on the market, but there are a fairly significant number of Paleo/Primal ones. (Just as an aside, I am using the terms Paleo and Primal interchangeably, but I’m relatively certain that adherents to either would not appreciate my doing so. Lucky for me, it’s not their blog!). It was there I stumbled across the title, Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking For A Gluten-Free Kitchen, by Julie and Charles Mayfield. It should come as no surprise to any follower of SCD that I was instantly flooded with mental images of rich, delectable, starch-based comfort foods that I so dearly missed. Just reading the title made me crave a macaroni and cheese, beef stroganoff sandwich on fresh rye bread! Like Captain Haddock reaching for a bottle of whiskey, I gingerly pulled the book of the shelf, worried that it might turn out to be a figment of my imagination. Pleasantly, it was not. After thumbing through it for a few minutes, my mouth began to water, as I was presented with gorgeous images of fried chicken, pot roast, muffins, and banana pudding. I knew it had to come home with us!
It took Diana and I roughly 17 seconds to decide that the fried chicken would be the first recipe we’d try. Diana has a wonderful/nasty habit of changing every recipe she uses, but at my behest, we followed it precisely the first time, so we could see what the result was, and so that I could properly review it for you, my dear readers. I promised her that, if she so desired, she could change it next time.
I’m pleased to report that, when followed to the letter, the recipe yields a very lovely fried chicken! Mind you, I did not say that it makes a reasonable facsimile of fried chicken. No, indeed. This really is fried chicken. It’s crispy on the outside, it’s juicy and scalding hot on the inside, and it’s delicious!! As one might expect with fried chicken, it uses a fair amount of dishes to prepare, and requires a generous amount of oil in the pan, but this is no different from more traditional preparations. There was nothing terribly tricky about the affair…. Make a breading mix, dip the chicken parts into beaten egg, then dredge with the breading, and then brown in the oil. Once the parts are browned on all side, they go into the oven for 10-15 minutes, et voila! The only thing I would suggest with this recipe is that, if you’re using whole chicken legs (as in, thigh and drumstick together), you should separate them or they may not get fully cooked in the middle. This is not a fault of the recipe… just our faulty technique. A second try using this tip, and all was perfect.
Every week, Diana and I spend part of Sunday making a huge batch of something that will serve as our lunches all week long. This week, we chose the coq au vin recipe found in this book. I gotta tell ya… it’s delicious, and our house smelled amazing!! As with any French dish, there were a fair number of steps involved, but the instructions were clear and concise, and as someone who spent a fair number of years working in commercial kitchens, I appreciated Ms. Mayfield’s cautions about flambeing the brandy (and how not to cause a disaster in the process). The end result was a truly succulent dish. The gravy, of course, lacked the velvety viscosity that one might expect if a flour roux were used, but I really didn’t miss it.
Comfort food in the standard American diet is overwhelmingly carb-dense, and adopting SCD means leaving a lot of our most comforting foods behind. If you’re an SCD-er and looking for ways to fill that comfort food void, I’d really encourage you to stop by your local bookstore and check out Paleo Comfort Foods. I think that one of the things I like most about this book is that it rejects the notion of compromise. Rather than asking, “How can we make something that tricks us into thinking it’s something else?”, the authors seem instead to ask, “With the ingredients we have at our disposal, how can we make delicious, familiar, comforting food that is also healthy?”. This difference is subtle but profound. And in this case, highly successful!