Comfort Foods on Whole 30

Doing this Whole 30 with another person is very different. Before, I just modified to fit existing food to what I needed, but with two people the pressure and stakes are higher because all the food must fit and be palatable for both of us. So far the results have been acceptable, but I personally want this month to be above average, especially in terms of flavorful, colorful, and satisfying meals. I am already a bit tired of all the chicken in so many meals and the hash brown-sausage casserole for breakfast. Are they tasty? Yes. Filling? Yes. Satisfying? Partially. So although I am certainly going to continue using recipes from the sites I mentioned, there are several “comfort food” recipes that we regularly have that I want to try, slightly modified.

Before the comfort food recipes, though, is the most important addition, bacon. I need bacon! But compliant bacon is very expensive at $10+ a pound for online providers. So I have just cured and smoked a side of bacon. The pork belly I purchased was about $3.80/lb. for 11 pounds. I used salt and beet root powder for the rub. Beet root powder contains naturally occurring nitrates and has natural sweetness, so does double duty for the curing process. The 3 pound side of pork belly with the rub of 4 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt and about a half cup of beet root powder sat in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for four days, flipped two or three times.

Yesterday, I smoked it to 150° on my Big Green Egg, then refrigerated it overnight. The results are very good for the first go round, though I am going to make some slight changes. The beet root powder added some nice sweetness to the bacon as well as a nice pink tinge, but without “beety” taste. I will add a bit more to the mix this time. There was not quite enough salt, so I’ll add more and let it sit a day or two longer before smoking. Finally, I need my smoking chips to start smoking before I put the meat on. I have two more chances for this pork belly to perfect everything.

Looking around, some (expensive) “no cure” bacons have a number of other flavoring ingredients (e.g. vinegar, garlic, juniper berries, rosemary, celery powder or salt, citrus, pomegranate) so I might try some of those in the mix. After some research, I also found that cilantro and arugula are rich in nitrates so I might try some of that in the mix too. Who knows? I might never buy store bacon again, and it will definitely be more economical than the compliant options.

So on to comfort foods. First, I am going to make some family recipe chili but with no beans. I guess that will be Texas style, but the taste will be from what I usually do: hamburger, onions, lots of canned tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper, and a variety of ground peppers to taste all cooked for hours to get the flavor into the hamburger.

Then chicken adobo. Yes, that is chicken, but with lots of flavor and many memories from the Filipino lady that taught me to make it, to the years we spent in the Philippines, to the many times since we made it with our kids and enjoyed served with rice around the table. This time, I’ll have to serve with either potatoes or cauliflower rice, but the result should still be satisfying. Of course, I’ll use coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce. Ingredients: chicken drumsticks, whole crushed garlic, whole peppercorns, water, coconut aminos. Simple, but very tasty.

Then our favorite fish recipe. Many years ago, we purchased a fish cookbook, aptly titled Fish, by Mark Bittman. The recipes are sorted by the fish species, with alternate species included. Our most used recipe is Monkfish with Fresh Tomatoes and Crisp Potatoes. We’ve probably made it two or three dozen times in 25 years. We’ll use rockfish instead of the difficult to find monkfish. Fortunately, the recipe is Whole 30 compliant except for the dredging flour; I’ll use cassava, almond, or tapioca flour.

When I make these, I’ll probably post about them. Right now, I’m just hungry!

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