My family and friends back home in Edmonton have told me that they’re knee deep in snow now! While the white stuff hasn’t quite hit Toronto, there is definitely a chill in the air. Is it just me, or did the weather turn cold really fast this year??
This week’s recipe is for a hearty and very warming chicken stew, and was also inspired by a few new vendors that I met at the Toronto Gluten-Free Expo back in September. There is some prep work that goes into this, but being a crockpot recipe, it’s actually quite simple. You’ll see the ingredient quantities are BIG, and if you’re ambitious like me, you can double this recipe with two crockpots going at once. Hey, it’s winter time – there are going to be days when you come home from work, it’s dark already (!) and you’re tired, so why not freeze your own ready-made meals for later?
As many of you know, I’m a big advocate for the “cook from scratch” lifestyle in order to live gluten-free. It’s the most affordable, satisfying and healthy way to do it. Being a very frugal cook, I generally have also recommended using single spices. But I realize that many people may not be as comfortable as I am in the kitchen in letting my nose decide what spices to use and in what quantities.
So I was quite happy when I was contacted last month by Fire in the Kitchen – a Canadian specialty seasonings company that I met at the Expo. The company was created by local Toronto fireman, Christian Horner, who also happens to run a prestige catering business (hence the company’s name, “Fire in the Kitchen”).
I received five spices from the company to sample:
Captain Bradley’s Ocean Rub – a special spice blend for seafood.
Fire Rub – a mild/medium fiery spice great for steaks, roasts, chicken, pork, ribs, game, soups, sauces etc.
JJ’s Veggie Blaze – an all-purpose seasoning for veggies, salad dressings or spiced butter.
Burger Batter – for ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork veal or lamb.
Momma Grace’s Inspired Jerk Rub – a spicy dry rub marinade great for chicken, pork and beef; named after a sweet 75 year old woman who has worked in restaurants most of her life.
I was a little apprehensive about how hot some of the spices would be, but was delighted to find that these seasonings really do live up to their promise of having “just enough heat” to compliment their flavour without overpowering them. The Veggie Blaze is by far my favourite (and actually not spicy at all), so you’ll see that I used that blend in my recipe below. (I’ve also used the Fire Rub to marinate drumsticks… yum!).
Another ingredient I discovered was Sweet Potato flour. You’ll know that my personal default substitute flours are brown rice flour, tapioca starch and sweet rice flour. Sweet potato flour is a binder and I find it works well in the same proportions as I would use to bake with tapioca starch, which is 1 cup wheat flour = 3/4 cup brown rice flour + 1/4 cup sweet potato flour. In the recipe below, I changed the ratio to half and half because I wanted a nice thick stew (hence more binder). The bonus is that sweet potato flour is far more nutrient dense than tapioca starch, and is rich in complex carbs, fibre, beta-carotene and vitamin A. It does have a strong flavour though, so for delicately flavoured cakes or cookies, I might stick with the tapioca or sweet rice.
2 tbsp Olive oil
6 lbs (1.4 kg) Chicken pieces, skiness, bone-in
4 Onions, peeled
8 Carrots, peeled
8 Celery stalks
1 tsp Sea salt
1/4 cup Brown rice flour
1 carton Gluten-free chicken stock
1 cup Green peas
- In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken (in batches if necessary) and brown lightly on all sides.
- As chicken is cooking, slice onions, carrots and celery stalks thinly. I like to use a food processor, especially when I’m having to chop so many veggies at once.
- Once chicken is browned, transfer to slow cooker, set to “low”.
- Add sliced veggies to frying pan and cook until softened. Stir in spices, then gradually sprinkle in flours. Stir well and continue cooking until liquids have thickened.
- Pour mixture over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. When finished, stir in peas.
- Serve over a bed of brown rice, quinoa, millet or kasha. Freeze leftovers in individual containers for ready-made frozen dinners.
All the spices from Fire in the Kitchen are mixed in a shared facility that does gluten-free runs, and bottled in a gluten-free facility. The company says that the mixing plant is tested and falls within current requirements for a gluten-free claim on their products. The spices are available at Longos, Pusateris, Brunos, the Healthy Butcher and many other locations across Ontario, and are priced between $6.99-$8.99.
Jamestown Mills is a dedicated gluten-free mill. Their sweet potato flour and other gluten-free flours are available across the country at Bulk Barn and various other locations in Ontario. A 750g bag sells for $10.99. As with other flours, I recommend storing it in your fridge or freezer to preserve its flavour.
Get more recipes and a complete guide to successful gluten-free substitutions in my book at GlutenFreeLiving.ca!
PS. I’ve been nominated for two Health & Wellness awards as an author and a motivator/educator. I hope that you’ll consider supporting me by casting your vote online. It’s super easy and should take less than 5 minutes!
1. Go to http://awards.naturalhealthcare.ca/
2. Click on “create account” (you’ll be emailed a password; your info & nomination is anonymous).
3. Please select the category “Health and Wellness Motivator / Educator” & “Health & Wellness Author”
and click “vote” for Victoria Yeh