Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brazilian Fish Stew

Hi there and hello from Columbus, OH! I'm here for my greyhound, Zuri to get a dental and a little lump on his neck removed and biopsied. Why on earth would I drive all of the way to Ohio for that you ask? Because OSU has an awesome Greyhound Health & Wellness Program, and one of my former vets is actually practicing here now and will be doing Zuri's dental. Plus tomorrow I get to see a friend of mine who is driving up from Cincinnati to see me! And by see me, I mean keep me sane while Zuri is under anesthesia. To say I am going to be a nervous wreck tomorrow is an understatement. So if you could all send some good thoughts our way from about 7:30 on, that would be great. :) Here's a photo of the handsome patient, who unfortunately is likely going to lose 4 toofers :(

So travel obviously has its challenges when doing a Whole 30. My plan to counter this was to come prepared with plenty of food to eat, both snacks and meals, so I upgraded my room to a "suite" that would have a mini-fridge and microwave and on Friday and Saturday I cooked up 2 dishes that I knew would leave me with enough leftovers to bring along.

The first dish was a fish stew. I tend to keep fish on hand for "emergency" meals since it's easy to pull from the freezer and defrost quickly in a bowl of cold water. When I do that, I usually just bake it in the oven with a drizzle of EVOO, a squirt of lemon juice and some s&p and serve it with some veggies on the side. But since I wanted to have a one dish meal I could reheat, I went looking on Epicurious for a recipe that would use the hake I had in my freezer and I stumbled on this Brazilian Fish Stew recipe. I had intended to halve the recipe since I only had 3 pieces of fish, but when I got down to making it I didn't think the proportions would be right so I only halved the shrimp, herbs, and plantain and left the remaining quantities "as is". I also subbed aleppo pepper flakes for the marinade and used coconut oil instead of EVOO (no brainer in this dish!).

The flavor in this dish was impressive given its simplicity. You literally marinate the seafood, chop a few things, and then layer everything in the pot and let it simmer until cooked. The result is a slightly sour flavorful broth without a strong fishy flavor that's nicely balanced by the sweetness of the onion and plantain. Incidentally, you could leave the plantain out if you're concerned about the higher carb content, but I think it provides a nice contrast to the acidic broth so I wouldn't. If you have a dutch oven, it would make a very pretty presentation to serve it tableside in the pot. Here's what mine looked like:

But, it's also beautiful plated so if you're stuck with a basic stock pot like me, no worries!

I knew between Crossfit and packing that I wouldn't have much time on Saturday for cooking so I asked around for suggestions for a quick and easy "one pot" meal and settled on making a Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore inspired by a fellow paleo greyhound owner. To make it, I first seared a half a pound each of mild and hot Italian sausage that I sliced. Once they had some good color, I removed the sliced sausage from the pan and seared some quartered white button mushrooms in the fat. Once those had some color as well, I deglazed the pan with a little red wine vinegar and added a roughly chopped onion and green pepper and a few smashed garlic gloves and sauteed until softened. I tossed the sausage back in and mixed it all up:

I put all of that into my 6 qt crock pot and put a layer of boneless skinless seasoned chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs) on top and sprinkled those with chopped fresh parsley:

 Then I dumped a jar of paleo-friendly marinara sauce (lots of jarred sauce has bad oil or added sugar so it pays to check the labels) on top and turned the crockpot on high. After about an hour, I turned it down to low and let it cook for another 3 hours or so. Shortly before I was ready to eat, I added about 1/2 lb of chopped kale of different varieties and let that cook down. About 30 minutes later, I had a simple and satisfying dinner:

Tomorrow I'll be having lunch with the friend that I mentioned. It will be my first and likely only time eating out while on my Whole 30. I hope it's relatively easy for me to find a Whole 30 compliant option that is not a salad. Stay tuned.

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