This paleo Stovetop Maple Chicken Hot Pot recipe hits all the right flavor notes (sweet, salt, and spice), making it addictively delicious and a great way to showcase the versatility of maple syrup.
Some of my all-time favorite food memories from being a kid involve a big stack of pancakes topped with a pat of butter and drizzled with amber-colored, sticky-sweet maple syrup. Growing up, pancakes in our house were a very rare event, saved for birthdays and holidays, which made the ordeal even more special.
In my own kitchen pancakes are still pretty rare, but maple syrup on the other hand is one of my go-to natural sweeteners. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I found out about Katie Webster’s cookbook Maple that dedicates an entire cookbook to one of my favorite ingredients!
I’m absolutely thrilled to feature Katie for this month’s installment of my A Happier Healthier You 2015 series. In addition to being a cookbook author, Katie blogs over at Healthy Seasonal Recipes where she shares her beautiful recipes and food photography, along with tidbits on life.
Here is the lovely Katie; photo by Erica Allen, courtesy of Katie Webster.
Did you know Katie is a culinary school grad and a recovering food stylist? So you know her stuff is seriously good. I’m always inspired by the fresh twists she puts on her recipes (like her Black Bean Burgers with Green Tea Basil Aioli and Curry Wedge Salad). And her use of seasonal ingredients (like her Spice Roasted Delicata Squash with Port Reduction) makes me want to head out to the farmers market every single day.
It is my hope that the recipes in Maple will conjure up and celebrate special moments for you. The foods you make may be new, but the sweet and aromatic flavors will surely be familiar. They will be nourishing, comforting, and above all delicious. Use them as inspiration. Each nibble, meal, drink, and dessert prepared with love is an opportunity to create new memories to cherish and treasure.
Katie was gracious enough to tell us more about maple and about herself…
1. Making maple syrup or “backyard sugarin’” sounds like so much fun, but I can imagine it’s also quite a process. Can you tell us about it – how long does it take to make a pint of maple syrup and how much sap goes into it?
It is both fun and a ton of work. This is how it works: In the spring when the days get warm and the nights are still cold, the sap in the maple trees starts to flow. We collect the sap in buckets, drip by drip. Then comes the boiling to get rid of all of the water that is in the sap and concentrate the natural sugars. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, so it takes a long time and there is a lot of steam involved! Here in Vermont, sugaring is a fun activity to get us through what is otherwise a pretty gloomy time of year. One of my favorite part about is that as soon as we start boiling our friends appear to help as if by magic. It always is a festive time!
2. What makes maple a better choice than other sweeteners?
There are four reasons that maple is a better choice than other sweeteners, the first being that it tastes great! So, when you sweeten with maple you're adding flavor, not just sweetness. The second is that cup for cup it is healthier. We should all be watching our added sugars, so when you are choosing between sweeteners maple gives you the best bang for your buck. Maple is sweeter than other sweeteners, and you're adding flavor, so you end up using less overall. It is also healthier because it is minimally processed (it's basically just concentrated sap) so it isn't stripped of its micronutrients. It has minerals, antioxidants and even anti-inflammatory properties. It is also lower on the glycemic index than other sweeteners. The third reason maple is a great choice over other sweeteners is that it is greener. Unlike sweeteners made from field crops like sugar cane or corn, maple comes from a forest. When we collect sap we're only taking a small amount of what the tree has to offer as opposed to harvesting it in its entirety. The sugar makers take care of the forest so that their trees will be healthy and live long. This leaves the landscape wooded and preserves natural ecosystems. Additionally, a lot of small operations also use wood-fired boilers, which are carbon-neutral. The fourth reason maple is a better choice than other sweeteners is that because of the nature of how maple syrup is collected and made, in all likelihood when you use it you are supporting a small-scale family operation. Even the larger-scale maple syrup aggregating businesses are getting their syrup from small mom and pop operations. This helps to strengthen rural communities.
3. What is your all-time favorite recipe using maple syrup?
Choosing a favorite from the book would be unfair, haha. But there are a few recipes that I have made over and over since I developed them. The Maple Ginger Chicken Thighs is a favorite. It is so easy, and the work is done ahead. Plus thighs are very forgiving so if you leave them in the oven for a little too long they are still totally delicious, which makes it a great entertaining recipe. I have also made the Smoky and Sweet Turkey Chili more times than I can count. There is something about the balance of sweet, sour, heat, smoke that make it so good! I could go on and on, but there is one more, the Maple Date Bread Pudding. Oh man. It is so maple-y! I insist that you try it when it is still a little warm. The caramel-y dates melt into the gooey bread. It is divine!
4. What is your eating philosophy in general, and what does a typical day of eating look like for you?
I base my diet on seasonal ingredients that are local- sourced whenever possible, which means I eat whole foods the vast majority of the time. I am a reformed dieter, and for the last decade plus I have used the intuitive eating method, which basically means that I eat healthy 90% of the time, but I make sure to satisfy my cravings every day so that I don't feel deprived. I stay away from fad diets and instead I fill my plate with a ton of vegetables, salads, whole grains, and lean meats. I make sure to balance that with coffee, red wine, and chocolate though!
A typical day for me? I have lots of mini meals. Breakfast will be a slice of whole grain toast with a farm fresh egg cooked in olive oil. Then I'll have a mini-snack/lunch when I get home from the gym in the late morning. This is usually a small amount of sort of savory left-over from the night before, like chicken and roasted veggies. Then I will have another lunch/snack at 1 or 2 in the afternoon (whenever I feel hungry), and often this is a salad. I usually have a big handful of dark chocolate chips after lunch too! I may even have a chunk of sharp cheddar before dinner. I know it sounds like a ton of food, but I always eat these mini meals off a small bread and butter plate. Then dinner is on a regular plate but I fill it with salad and vegetables. We eat all kinds of things for dinner. Last night my husband was out of town and the girls and I had curried veggies, scrambled eggs with chives, and warm flour tortillas. It was a totally bizarre combination and we all gobbled it up!
5. Your beautiful cookbook does a lovely job of showcasing the versatility of maple syrup. What is your favorite unconventional recipe that features maple syrup?
I love the Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle. I actually didn't invent the idea of putting maple syrup on the pizza. I had it for the first time at the little bakery here in my town. It is so surprising and so delicious! I love sweet and savory together, and on a pizza maple is magic!
6. As a working mom, blogger, and author, it sounds like you are a busy lady! What are your best tips for keeping balance in your life?
Oh, haha! I am so over-committed! It is in my nature. I have had schedule changes that have made me less busy, like when my younger daughter started kindergarten, but then I quickly found ways of filling my time back up. A few things keep me balanced though, one is that I make sure to get exercise most days. I can be in the worst mood and totally stressed out, and then after a workout everything seems so much more manageable. Over the last few years I have gotten certified and now teach group fitness classes. I know it sounds like more commitments and time (which it is) but it is so rewarding. Something about being up in front of a class and leading people through a workout is like a one-hour oasis where my mind is completely occupied on one thing. The second thing is that I am a complete stickler about having family dinner. We eat dinner together at the table almost every night. It is a little break in the craziness and we all can talk and catch up and relax. The third thing is that I get seven or eight hours of sleep every night. I know people who get by on less but I am happiest when I have a full night of sleep so I just make it a priority. I have always been that way. In college my friends called me Katie Cashola since I was always cashing out early! Ha!
The beauty of Maple is that it showcases how well maple integrates into both sweet and savory dishes. I love Thai flavors and Maple Cashew Chicken Satay is calling my name. I like a warm salad in cold months and Kale Skillet Salad with Walnuts and Maple has me intrigued. But also, Chipotle and Maple Flank Steak Tacos with Zippy Cabbage Slaw is begging to be made in my kitchen sooner rather than later. And that’s even before dessert…Hazelnut Maple Thumbprint Cookies with Maple Butter and Salted Maple Penuche Fudge both sound pretty fantastic.
In the end, I decided on the Slow Cooker Chicken Thigh Hot Pot first (and yes, I made a stovetop version instead). Katie mentions that traditional Chinese hot pots are cooked at the table so the version in her cookbook technically doesn’t count (and neither does my stovetop version!), but the flavors are inspired by a hot pot.
Looking through the ingredient list of this recipe, I knew it would be a winner, but I had no idea just how addictive it would be! The flavors are a perfect balance of sweet (from maple), salt (from coconut aminos), and spice (from five-spice powder), and it makes for one incredibly delicious soup.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil, light olive oil, or coconut oil
- 1½ lbs (680 g) chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into large chunks
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, chopped
- 1 smallish celeriac, peeled and chopped (about 1½ cups chopped)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms, any kind you like
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 4 cups (950 ml) low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced (for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
- Add the oil to a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, celery, celeriac, mushrooms, carrot, garlic, ginger, chicken stock, maple syrup, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, five-spice powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cover the pot and bring up to a boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Serve with the scallion and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
Coconut Aminos: If keeping this dish paleo isn’t a concern, instead of coconut aminos you can use soy sauce or tamari sauce.
: : GIVEAWAY : :
I’m thrilled to be giving away one copy of Maple by Katie Webster to one lucky winner! (Thank you to Quirk Books for providing the cookbook for this giveaway!)
To participate in this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite use for maple syrup.
For extra entries, you can do any of the following (please leave a separate comment for each):
- If you’re familiar with Katie’s recipes, tell me which one is your favorite.
- Like An Edible Mosaic on Facebook.
- Like Healthy Seasonal Recipes on Facebook.
- Like Quirk Books on Facebook.
You do not need to have a blog to enter this giveaway. For shipping purposes, this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. This giveaway ends on November 12, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. Once the giveaway ends, the winner will be randomly chosen and notified via email. The winner will have three business days to respond with his or her mailing information, otherwise a new winner will be randomly chosen. Good luck to all!
Disclosure: Quirk Books provided a copy of Maple for my review and is providing the cookbook for this giveaway; as always, opinions stated are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!