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Desperately Seeking “Comfort” Food

To me the idea of comfort food is not just a want but an actual need. Especially now that we are heading into the Fall season, a plate full of comforting goodness warms my heart. I know; I know I shouldn't look to food to fulfill me on an emotional level but it does. It always has and it always will.

According to all the experts I should treat food as fuel for my body to perform well. I do understand and embrace that concept which is why I changed my nutrition to the Paleo way of eating. However I also see food as more than simply fueling my body; I see food as sustenance for my being; as a way to enjoy the good things that the earth has provided me and has invited me to enjoy.

Paleo Comfort Food Smothered Pork Chops and Cauliflower Mash

What is comfort food? It’s different for everyone and for every culture. For me it derives from my multi-cultural background but it always used to mean some kind of starchy side dish such as rice, potatoes or noodles along with some kind meat with gravy. Yes; Gravy! This type of food is probably the most opposite to the Paleo lifestyle. But I still crave it.

So I went on a mission to create my favorites without compromising my new-found nutritional path. In terms of comfort food, Cauliflower became my best friend. This common vegetable has the unique ability to transform itself and mimic so beautifully the starchy side dishes that use to bring me comfort. This is the first in a series of posts that I’m planning to extol the beauty of cauliflower and its role in Paleo comfort food.

Recipes

Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • Dash salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS butter or light olive oil
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or 2 TBS chicken stock
  • Enough water to cover cauliflower

 

Cut cauliflower into floret and put into a stock pot. Cover with water and boil until fork tender. Drain completely in colander and put back into the pot. While still hot add the butter or olive oil, the heavy cream or stock and the salt & pepper. Using either a hand immersion blender or a whisk cream the cauliflower until it has the texture of mashed potatoes. Cover and keep warm.

Smothered Pork Chops

  • 8 pork chops of medium thickness (about ½ inch)
  • Salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced coarsely
  • 4 TBS light olive oil
  • 2 TBS arrowroot powder plus 3 TBS water (slurry)
  • 2 cups chicken stock

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry with paper towel the pork chops. Season each piece on both sides with salt, pepper (more liberally) and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a pan on medium high heat until fairly hot. Doing only a few pieces at a time (do not crowd) brown the pork chops on both sides and then remove to a baking pan in a single layer. In the same browning pan add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the chicken stock and adjust seasoning. Note: don’t make it too salty because when it cooks it will reduce and concentrate flavors. Turn the heat to medium. Make the arrowroot slurry in a small bowl. While stirring the stock constantly slowly add the arrowroot slurry and let it cook for about a minute until it starts to thicken (should have consistency of thin cream). Add more slurry if it is too thin. Pour this gravy over the pork chops in the baking pan and cover loosely with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes; uncover the foil and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the gravy is reduced and thickened.

This is a great meal that brings warmth and comfort any day of the week but I think this is best enjoyed with family and unhurried like a Sunday evening. Stay tuned for my next installment when Cauliflower “Rice” will be the featured side dish. – Della

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