The indulgent taste of gluten-free American cuisine
Chef and author Christian Broglia goes from New England to New Orleans in search of satisfying, gluten-free recipes
The dishes served at your favourite holiday destination could be gluten-free, and you might be completely unaware. As the chef and author Cristian Broglia writes in The Gluten-Free Cookbook, “there are signature dishes from various countries that we may forget or not realise are gluten-free.” Lots of us are aware of common substitutes for gluten-rich wheat flour, such as maize, rice and potatoes. However, fewer of us may immediately recall that meat and fish dishes to salads, soups, stews, and desserts are often gluten-free too.
“There are latkes from Israel, sweet rice cake balls from Korea, guacamole with Homemade tortilla chips from Mexico, paella valenciana from Spain, pea and ham soup from the UK, tomato and onion salad from Tanzania, ratatouille from France, grilled pike from South Africa, and steamed layer cake from Thailand. I could go on and on.”
Indeed, in a more systematic manner, Broglia does go on, detailing the origins and cultural history of the globes’ gluten-free dishes, from almond brittle to rice-stuffed zucchini. Right now, as many of us are rediscovering our love of travel, this new book is a great way to try out new cuisines, without having to pack your carry-on case. Indeed, for those outside the United States, the book is particularly good on US cuisine.
Take, for example, Broglia’s recipe for creole cornbread. This dish is “a favourite across all the American South, and in New Orleans it gets a delicious upgrade with traditional Creole and Cajun flavours,” he writes. The chef adds cornmeal and canned creamed corn to his recipe extra richness, and spices it up with jalapeños. To make it you’ll need those three ingredients, as well as long-grain white rice; butter; an onion; sea salt; baking soda; an egg; some milk; canola (rapeseed) oil; and cheddar cheese.
Cook the rice until tender, then drain. Heat the oven to oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Grease a 10-inch (25 cm) round cake pan with butter and sprinkle with cornmeal. In a bowl, stir together the cooked rice, cornmeal, onion, jalapeños, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, milk, and oil. Stir in the creamed corn. Add the mixture to the rice and stir gently to combine. Stir in the cheddar. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crisp and golden brown, (about 30 minutes).
New England Clam Chowder. Photography by Infraordinario Studio
New England clam chowder also features in this book. Broglia traces the dish’s origins via French and Scottish settlers, as well as its more recent, regional developments. “There are many variations of American chowder, including the popular Manhattan clam chowder, which is made with a tomato-y broth and no cream,” he writes. “However, much of New England considers the Manhattan version an abomination, to the point that in 1939 the state of Maine considered outlawing the use of tomatoes in clam chowder.”
That proposal was not approved, but the chef still sticks to the New England version, offering a recipe that combines littleneck clams with bacon; an onion; garlic; celery; potatoes; chicken stock; pepper; thyme; cream; and cornstarch.
Put the clams in a pot with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the clams open (discard any that do not). Scoop out the clams. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside. Pull the clam meats out of the shells. In a soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6–7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Keep the bacon fat in the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and celery to the bacon fat in the pot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, stock, reserved clam cooking liquid, and white pepper and dried thyme to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. In a bowl, combine some cream and the cornstarch and mix carefully. Pour the mixture into the soup and simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes to thicken. Add the clam meats and more cream and simmer for 2 more minutes. Serve hot with the bacon and fresh thyme sprinkled on top.
Pulled pork sandwich with cabbage-apple slaw. Photography by Infraordinario Studio
Finally, for a taste of the coming summer, try a pulled pork sandwich with apple-cabbage slaw. “This dish comes originally from the American South, but it’s well known all over the world,” says the chef. “Made with a well marbled and juicy cut of pork cooked until so tender it can be pulled apart with a fork (hence the name “pulled pork”), it’s traditionally cooked on the grill or in a pit barbecue. However it can also be baked in the oven, braised on the stovetop, or cooked in an electric pressure cooker.”
Broglia's recipe includes ingredients for the pork itself, the accompanying sauce, and the slaw. For the sauce you need apple cider vinegar; barbecue sauce; light brown sugar; Worcestershire sauce; hot red pepper sauce; some honey; fresh lemon juice; and dried chilli flakes. For the pork, its light brown sugar; sweet paprika; ground cumin; dried oregano; garlic; sea salt; black pepper; skin-on boneless pork shoulder; and apple cider vinegar.
For the cabbage-apple slaw, you require Greek yoghurt; mayonnaise; more apple cider vinegar; Dijon mustard; fresh chives; a cabbage; a carrot; a Granny Smith apple And, finally, to serve, you’ll need some corn bread buns too.
To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir well over low heat until warmed and the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until needed. To make the pork, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub the meat with half of the sugar/spice mixture. Put the meat into a large container and pour in cold water. Brine in the fridge overnight, turning the meat two or three times.
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C/Gas Mark 2). Remove the meat from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub it with the remaining sugar/spice mixture. Set the pork in a large Dutch oven (casserole) skin-side up. Sprinkle the meat with vinegar, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 3 hours. Add more vinegar, cover, and continue to bake until the meat can be pulled apart with a fork, about 3 hours longer. Meanwhile, remove the sauce from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Reserving the juices in the Dutch oven, remove the meat to a carving board. Discard the skin and shred the meat. Add the sauce to the Dutch oven and stir together with the pan juices. Ladle out about half of the sauce into a gravy boat. Add the pulled pork to the sauces in the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the cabbage-apple slaw, whisk together the yoghurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and chives. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, and apple. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Finally, make sandwiches with the meat and coleslaw on corn bread. Serve the remaining sauce on the side for people to add to their sandwiches to taste.
The Gluten-Free Cookbook
For full recipes, as well as weights and other measurements, and much more besides, order a copy of The Gluten-Free Cookbook.