We are double happy to have Fiesta Farms and Neal Brothers as sponsors of the Gluten Free Garage!
It’s that time of year again. The beautiful colours of autumn have vanished, leaving us with brisk temperatures and the craving for good ol’ comfort food. The delicate flavours we enjoy during the summer lack the oomph that our palates (and padding) require during winter. Enter the magical cooking technique called braising, the technique behind France’s famous coq au vin and boeuf borguignonne and Italy’s osso buco—chef talk for the slow cooking of cheap cuts of meat.
“Braising” sounds like a complicated culinary term, but really all it means is slow cooking in a flavourful liquid. The key is to start with a tough and inexpensive cut of meat—like a beef blade roast, cross cut roast, shanks or brisket or even pork shoulder roast. These cuts aren’t only less punishing on the pocketbook, they are best enjoyed through the braising method. The ultimate cooking pot for braising is an enameled cast iron pot like a Le Creuset; if you don’t have one, any heavy pot will do. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and sear until browned all over. Remove it and set aside. Toss in chopped onions, celery and carrots (referred to as a mirepoix), then turn the heat down to medium to let the vegetables cook slowly and release their yumminess.
After about five minutes, deglaze with some wine or stock. “Deglazing” is the process of loosening those browned bits (the fond) stuck to the bottom of the pot after searing. Return the meat to the pot and add liquid to come at least three-quarters up the meat—a combination of flavourful stock and wine is perfect. Many recipes call for the addition of water; feel free to throw in spices, fresh herbs, garlic…you are limited only by your imagination.
Bring the liquid to a slow simmer (not a boil!). You can cook it on the stovetop or, if your pot is oven safe, throw it in the oven at 300°F. The meat is ready when it is “fork tender”—if you stick a fork into the meat and try to lift it, the meat won’t hold the fork and will just fall off. Total time: around 2.5 hours. (Hint: The meat will get much tougher during the cooking process before it gets tender; never fear, once the internal temperature is high enough it will fall apart.)
Our mothers may not have known the science behind their pot roast but it was still magic. At what point in history did the tradition of a Sunday pot roast with the family disappear? I think it should be mandatory.
The Healthy Butcher will be bringing its meat and more (including Alba Lisa gourmet food products!) to the Gluten Free Garage!
GFG: For those not in the know about Fiesta Farms, can you tell us a bit about it?
Fiesta is a unique grocery store. First of all, it’s independent; it’s a family-owned grocery store whose main focus is local, organic, natural products. We have, in my opinion, one of the highest-quality produce selections in Toronto. Our buyer goes to the Ontario Food Terminal every morning to get the freshest produce. The thing about Fiesta Farms is that it’s not just a grocery store, it also integrates a health food store aspect. It’s kind of an all-in-one store—instead of going to a grocery store and a health food store, you can do both here. We carry a lot of superfoods!
When did Fiesta begin carrying gluten-free products?
Officially, as soon as the trend starting picking up. I’d say in the last five years it started trickling in. It’s been a combination of customer feedback and the buyers knowing what’s hot in the market. Our buyers are really on top of the trends and what’s happening in the industry. But with gluten-free products, there’s definitely been a lot of customer feedback because there has been a wave of people needing or wanting it, especially in the last five years.
It’s interesting that instead of having a dedicated gluten-free section, your gluten-free products can be found throughout the store.
When we first brought in organic products years ago, we decided to integrate the products throughout the store rather than have a section for it, to give customers a choice they may not have been aware of. This was successful, so we decided to do the same with gluten-free products.
What are some of your most popular gluten-free products?
We have a wide range of gluten-free products, such as lasagna, muffins, prepared foods and over 100 grocery items. Some of our finer products come from local small businesses, such as Live and JK Gourmet. Mary’s Gone Crackers are a huge hit.
Fiesta Farms will be showcasing some of its gluten-free products at the Gluten Free Garage, offering samples of apple cider and giving away coupons for 10% off any GF product at the store!
Check out Fiesta Farms’ cheeky blog post about the Gluten Free Garage here!