Polynesian Sweet and Sour Sausage Stew (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I’ve been participating in the Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! (GAHIGF) carnival since February of last year. Sweet and super creative Kelly from The Spunky Coconut hosted my “inaugural” month. GAHIGF is the clever creation of the wonderful Naomi of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Each month it’s hosted by a different blogger who gets to choose the theme. It’s a fun event with amazing recipes. I always like to imagine all of us who participate getting together in person to sample each other’s dishes, as I did when I hosted last July with the “Make Me A Happy Camper” theme. Laura of Mouthgasmic is this month’s host. She selected “Stews from Around the World.”

I wanted to make something different than your typical beef stew or, say, my jambalaya. So I took a look in the pantry and refrigerator to see what I had on hand. (I find that doing that often makes me more creative than if I looked at a recipe and then purchased all the ingredients to make it.) Smoked sausage, coconut milk, pineapple, stir-fry “baby” corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms all made me think Polynesian. Hmmm. A chilly, thick pina colada also came to mind. We used to have a Polynesian restaurant in our area (before I was gluten free). Oh, it was a chain restaurant and the food was not much different than Chinese food really, but for many years, it was a very enjoyable place to eat equally enjoyable food. Plus, the service was always excellent; the décor was a bit over the top with gold statues, fountains, and such (in a way that was not tacky, but made you feel oddly special); the plush deep-set booths made for a great date setting (or fun tête a tête with a girlfriend); and their pina coladas were “to die for” (they weren’t even made in a blender; they were just shaken, but they were truly fabulous). However, I digress.

I looked online to see if my ingredients came close to those in traditional Polynesian stews. Well, the meat ingredient in several recipes I found ranged from beef, to pork, to chicken. My smoked sausage was close enough, I thought. It would provide more depth for flavor and because it was precooked, it would also allow my stew to be ready more quickly. (Quick is important when you haven’t had the foresight to pull out your slow cooker before heading to work.)

One appealing idea I saw when reviewing Polynesian recipes online was adding spinach to the stew at the end of cooking. That recipe was called Polynesian Chicken Fafa. It called for both spinach and shredded coconut. I didn’t opt for the shredded coconut in the stew (although I did use it in my pina colada!), but I did add spinach to my own plate of stew. I used fresh baby spinach leaves instead of frozen spinach as was suggested in that recipe, so it was easy to add just as much as I wanted. I was hoping for a wilted spinach effect, but as you can see from the photo, I didn’t quite achieve that. I think I let my dish cool too much before I added the spinach. Having the spinach at room temperature beforehand would have helped as well. I could have stirred the spinach into my stew, but I liked the look of it on top and really it made the stew much better. (I added even more spinach after I took the photo.)

This stew was a very good dish. I would recommend a few changes, which I’ve noted in the recipe. I added a small amount of brown rice to the mixture while it was cooking and, frankly, it was still a bit crunchy when we ate. We both agreed that serving the stew over cooked rice next time would work better. (Rice can be cooked separately at the same time you make the stew. White rice will be finished in 20 minutes; brown rice about 30 minutes.) The flavor is a classic “sweet and sour” one, which is often a little strong for us. I thought the coconut milk would lessen that effect, but it didn’t actually. Next time, I’ll most likely reduce both the vinegar and honey amounts to suit our taste buds. However, Mr. GFE had seconds and if you’re going for a classic sweet and sour taste, this recipe will serve you well.

Polynesian-Style Sweet and Sour Sausage Stew (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

½ to 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced or diced (as desired; I sliced and then halved mine—I don’t like big chunks of meat; more sausage can be added if you wish)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other oil, if needed)
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup coconut milk
1 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits, packed in its own juice (drained, with juice reserved)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey (or brown sugar, or similar; I actually ended up using part honey and part dark brown sugar—both to equal 1/3 cup)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp Soul Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning—even sea salt—for adding a little zing to your dishes; optional)
1 can stir fry “baby” corn, drained
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
2 handfuls of raw spinach or one 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Saute sausage slices/chunks in deep dish skillet over medium-low to medium heat until slightly browned—about 5 minutes. Add onions and sauté in very small amount of sausage drippings (add oil if needed) until translucent—about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic cloves and cook another 30 seconds.

Add coconut milk and pineapple tidbits to sausage mixture.

Stir in vinegar and honey. Whisk cornstarch into reserved pineapple juice. Stir into stew. Mix well and add seasoning.

Bring to a boil. Stir in remaining vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir the spinach into the skillet (or individual bowls). Stir and let steam cook spinach through before eating—about 2 minutes.

Serve over cooked white or brown rice. Add gluten-free soy sauce to taste, if needed.

Shirley’s Notes: The smoked sausage may be omitted and more vegetables (carrots, bok choy, green pepper, red pepper, more greens, etc.) may be added for a vegan version of this stew. Of course, you can use your remaining cup of coconut milk to make pina coladas. I promise to share that recipe with you soon. 

Remember to check back over at Laura’s at Mouthgasmic for the final GAHIGF roundup next week.

Gotta run … that remaining half pitcher of pina coladas is calling my name!

Not just gf, but gfe!

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


19 Responses to “Polynesian Sweet and Sour Sausage Stew (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)”

  1. Iris on January 29th, 2010 9:06 am

    I’m really impressed that you tried something so out of the box! Looks quite delicious!

    • Shirley on January 29th, 2010 11:11 pm

      Thanks so much, Iris! It’s fun sometimes to change things up a bit. ;-)


  2. Kim on January 29th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Another awesome looking recipe!! :) YUM!

    • Shirley on January 29th, 2010 11:14 pm

      Thank you, Kim. :-) It was a nice way to use the ingredients I had. I’d originally though that most of them would make a good fried rice dish, but hadn’t gotten around to making that dish before GAHIGF was due.


  3. Alta on January 29th, 2010 2:35 pm

    Sounds tasty! It sort of reminds me of this Hawaiian sausage casserole that my dad loves – it comes from a recipe my grandmother cut out of the newspaper 30-40 years ago!

    • Shirley on January 29th, 2010 11:16 pm

      Hi Alta–Those ancient out-of-the newspaper recipes can be some of the best! I’m curious about that particular recipe …


  4. PattyBoots on January 29th, 2010 6:04 pm

    D’oh – those are water chestnuts! I kept looking at the picture and seeing beans and looking at the recipe and not seeing beans.

    I love most anything sweet and sour (I’ve even been known to sneak a sip of vinegar because I love it so) – I have a fabulous sweet and sour meatball recipe that I do. But I have a really big aversion to “clear-ish” white sauces. Think like the sauces in Chinese seafood dishes. The flavors are always good, but the sight of it turns my stomach. Which is REALLY funny considering I’ve made my gravy with cornstarch since I had to stand on a stool to cook.

    I’m sure this is delish – maybe if I ate it blindfolded? LOL.

    • Shirley on January 29th, 2010 11:33 pm

      Hi PattyBoots–LOL Yes, water chestnuts! ;-) Ooh, sweet and sour meatballs sound good. Interesting on your aversion. Perhaps you could turn it brown by adding a little gluten-free soy or teriyaki sauce. Will have to think of some other ideas for you to help you get past that. ;-) For some recipes, adding a pesto can transform the color and flavor. But that wouldn’t work in this dish unfortunately.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and making me laugh! But, you know … we really all have aversions that we can’t even necessarily explain. Sometimes we can get past them, sometimes not.


  5. Kelly on January 31st, 2010 8:35 pm

    I love sweet and sour! Sounds superb! And thanks for mentioning me—you are too kind =) XOXO

    • Shirley on February 1st, 2010 7:43 am

      Hi Kelly–Thanks so much! :-) I’m sure you could have fun playing around with this recipe. ;-) My pleasure re: the mention. It’s been so much fun getting to know each other the last year or so through roundups, support group meeting, etc.!



  6. Yadi on February 1st, 2010 1:32 am

    This looks good! I have coconut milk and many veggies at home…. I may try to make a version of this next week.

    • Shirley on February 1st, 2010 7:49 am

      Hi Yadi–Great to see you, and thanks! :-) I’m sure you’ll come up with your own great version when you give this dish a try. It’s funny, but in the old days (when eating gluten), I’d stick right to a recipe. Now I’m much more creative in the kitchen as a result of learning to adapt recipes to gluten free (when needed). This recipe is naturally gluten free (so gfe) so no need to adapt, but it’s a lot of fun to just play with what one has on hand or what sounds good. ;-)

      Must head over your blog and check out your entry to GAHIGF. I ran out of time last night …


  7. Linda on February 2nd, 2010 9:53 pm

    My husband doesn’t care for sweet and sour, but I think this looks delicious!

    • Shirley on February 3rd, 2010 7:54 am

      Hi Linda–My husband doesn’t normally like anything sweet and sour, either, but he enjoyed this recipe surprisingly. And, I think he’ll like it even more once I tone it down the next time around. ;-) Thanks so much!


  8. emily on November 26th, 2012 7:18 pm

    I loveeeeee this stew. Made it for my family with the original recipe then I had to make it for myself at home. I doubled the recipe and added some of my favorite Asian vegetables. Bamboo shoots and bean sprouts. We also used fresh pineapple instead of canned and just got a can of juice to add. Awesome.

    • Shirley on November 28th, 2012 2:50 pm

      Hi Emily–Sorry to be just now replying. I tried to reply last night and my computer froze and ate my commment. :-( Then I went to bed. ;-)

      First, welcome to gfe! :-) Second, I’m so happy that you love this recipe and that you have made your own beloved variation. I do love fresh pineapple myself!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to give your review. Hope to see you more here!

  9. Lauren on April 3rd, 2014 7:10 am

    Loved the recipe!!! So did my in-laws !!! Thanks heaps for the recipe!!!
    Although, after not using as much vinegar and honey We found it sweeter, with a brief taste of sour :) Will use the full 1/3 of a cup of the vinegar next time :)

    • Shirley on April 12th, 2014 10:48 am

      Hi Lauren–Welcome to gfe! I’m sorry that I’m just now getting to responding to your lovely review. I’m always thrilled to hear when readers loves my recipes, especially when my recipes pass “the in-law test”! Woohoo! The preferences for sweet and sour are so individual and sometimes I find that the taste is much stronger the next day, so erring on the side of caution is not always a bad thing. Of course, if there are no leftovers, that’s not a concern. ;-) Hope you get this recipe exactly the way you like it next time! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. :-)


Leave a reply

Related Posts with Thumbnails