Pork

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First of all, great news: Paleo Takeout is now available for pre-order! Alright, back to the food.

Puchero is a popular stew in many Spanish-speaking countries (the word puchero means “stewpot” in Spanish). There are many variations to this dish, but I was especially drawn to the version that comes from the Río de la Plata region, where Argentina and Uruguay share a border. One dish from this area in particular is called Puchero Criollo, indicating it is of Creole origin. That led me to read up a bit on Creole history, and that settled it – this was the dish I wanted to share with you folks.

The term “Creole” generally refers to cultures of mixed European and native heritage. The most popular use of the term in the US is Louisiana Creole, indicating those descended from French or Spanish colonists prior to the Louisiana purchase. In terms of this stew, Puchero Criollo refers to a dish that is inspired by its Spanish heritage but uses items native to the Río de la Plata region; in this case, beef (primarily osso buco) is the common protein used in this dish since cattle are plentiful in the region. To have a little fun with the dish, I added a few staples of Louisiana Creole cuisine to the stew, like Creole seasoning and some andouille sausage.

In keeping with the tradition I started a while back, I’ve included Instant Pot electric pressure cooker instructions for this dish, to cut down on the cooking time. stovetop instructions are also included.

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I know what you’re thinking. It’s something like this – “Seriously, Russ? You already have an awesome Swedish Meatball recipe in your cookbook. Way to put a new coat of paint on your old favorites.”

First of all, thanks for the compliment. Second, these meatballs are a little different. For example, Danish Frikadeller are often smashed and look more like little patties than those little round balls you might be expecting. Think of them as Denmark’s LEGOs (probably their coolest invention) vs. Sweden’s crescent wrench (also a cool invention); both are useful, but serve slightly different purposes.

The recipe itself differs from Swedish meatballs in that I found that adding a bit of tapioca starch makes the balls stick together really well, and they’re pretty delightfully spongy, too. I also played around with the spices until I found something that delivered a distinctive Old-World taste while using common pantry items.

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Perkedel are Indonesian fried fritters, found everywhere from city streets to high-end restaurants. This dish carries a lot of variations, but most contain potatoes and ground meat, so that’s what I focused on in this recipe (most variations use just beef, but I found adding pork evens out the flavors). Speaking of variations, I made two versions of this dish as you’ll see in the pictures below: one with the breading, and one without. Both are awesome and easy to throw together.

The word Perkedel is actually a derivative of the Dutch word Frikandel, which is a deep-fried sausage that doesn’t have a casing and is often sliced down the middle and stuffed with toppings (the original #hotdogasthebun, in truth). The Dutch first colonized Indonesia, so there is a lot of cool Dutch influence like this in the archipelago (and vice-versa – Indonesian food is wildly popular in The Netherlands).

Totally unrelated, but the folks at Tabasco offered to give a selection of their sauces to one of my readers, shipped in time for Super Bowl this weekend; head over to this FB post to throw your name in the hat, if you’d like.

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So here we are, five days after Christmas, and you’re probably wondering what to do with the leftover holiday ham in your fridge. After all, there are only so many ham soups you can make before they get tiring (and I’m a big fan of ham soups). As I was thinking about everyone’s ham problem yesterday, I put together this ham and kale risotto for lunch. I thought you folks would enjoy it as well.

Risotto is the most popular way to prepare rice in Italy, and has been around since the 1500s. The rice varieties used in risotto (typically Carnaroli, Arborio, or Vialone Nano) are high in starch and impart a creamy texture to the dish. There’s a certain technique to making risotto: you create a soffrito using fat and onion, toast the rice and coat it in the fat, pour in and evaporate wine, ladle in hot broth until cooked through, then finish with butter and/or cheese.

The risotto-cooking process requires almost constant stirring in order to loosen up the starch and to keep the rice from sticking to the pan, so expect to spend a lot of time in front of your stove when making this dish (I usually grab a book or watch some Netflix on my phone). As an added bonus, your arm will get a bit of a workout along the way.

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First of all, I want to thank everyone who bought my cookbook or spread the word about that crazy deal last week. The Kindle version of The Ancestral Table climbed from somewhere in the top 105,000 to the #12 book on all of Amazon! My time near the top of the list was short-lived, but it was pretty awesome knowing that my book made it into so many new hands.

We spent our Thanksgiving with Sarah Ballantyne and her family in Atlanta, and came home earlier this weekend with enough time for me to develop and photograph a few dishes. After the hubbub of a holiday meal, I was in the mood for something simple and straight-forward. Pork chops came to mind. These easy glazed chops come together in less than an hour and are impossible to mess up. Bear in mind that you’ll want an instant-read thermometer to make sure they’re perfectly done; we use and love this one.

Don’t worry about the cut of chop (bone-in, center-cut, etc) for this recipe. Any of them will work fine, although thick chops are preferred; thin chops tend to try out quickly and are best prepared with a marinade, like in the Lemongrass Pork Chops recipe found in my book.

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Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Lately I’ve been in the mood to catch up on all of the recipes that didn’t quite make it into The Ancestral Table. Like last week’s Chicken Tikka Masala, I had initially considered putting Pernil in my book. But once I put everything together and realized that there were already two pulled pork shoulder recipes in there (Kalua Pig and BBQ Pulled Pork), plus a Puerto Rican roast pork (Lechon Asado), I knew that it would be more appropriate to put my Pernil recipe here on the blog.

Pernil is a roasted pork shoulder popular in Puerto Rico, often served during holidays. It is derived from the Spanish word pierno (leg), likely because it was originally made with the hind end, but since most hind quarters are used to make ham nowadays it makes sense that the cheaper shoulder is the cut of choice today. One particular trait of Pernil is the use of an adobo mojado, or wet marinade, which is created by using bitter orange juice (I used orange and lime juices) and a little vinegar to add moisture and tenderize the meat.

Although roasting a pork shoulder in the oven would be considered cheating here in the US, Pernil is surprisingly roasted in an oven on an almost exclusive basis. I can see why, since oven-roasting makes this dish dead-simple to make. I did add a smidge of liquid smoke to boost the roast’s flavor, but otherwise I kept the recipe true to what I found in most Puerto Rican cookbooks.

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Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

So, I don’t really know anything about this recipe. I just happened to stumble upon it when looking at funny Finnish recipes. If there are any kind Finns who would love to enlighten me on the history of this dish, I’m all ears.

Essentially, the dish calls for simmering hot dogs (or mild sausages) in a tomato-based sauce, which based on my research often consists of ketchup and a few spices. It basically looked like a Chef Boyardee creation to me at first glance. Intrigued, I decided to deconstruct the sauce using more nutritious ingredients – from uncured German weiners to a sauce made with tomato paste, onion, carrot, and broth.

In the end, it didn’t quite capture the canned goodness (or lack thereof) that is Chef Boyardee, but what resulted was a tasty combination of warm tomato flavors that paired perfectly with some comforting boiled potatoes. At the end of the day, this is an easy, interesting dish that’s fun for the whole family.

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Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Scotch eggs are a common picnic and party dish in the UK, and have been around for over 200 years. I first had one at the local Maryland Renaissance Festival some years back. Several restaurants and markets claim to have started the craze, but it’s likely that the dish was originally inspired by a North Indian and Pakistani dish called Nargisi Kofta, which encases a hard-boiled egg in spicy ground meat.

We make Scotch Eggs at home from time to time, basically any time we have some loose sausage on hand. But lately we’ve been soft boiling the eggs, which has shifted this dish from something comforting to something exquisite (and still comforting). Typical Scotch Egg recipes call for breading the sausage before frying, which gives them a nice crunch and helps the sausage stay in place; over the years we’ve come to prefer the ease and simplicity of not breading the eggs.

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Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish made with fried and smashed plantains. It is related to the West African staple starch dish called Fufu, originally made with yuca; slaves sent to the Caribbean originally brought this dish across the Atlantic.

Fufu made it into several Caribbean cuisines, with varying levels of alteration. In Cuba, it is known as Fufu de Platano, and in the Dominican Republic it carries the name Mangú. In Puerto Rico, it is almost always made with plantains, but yuca and breadfruit variations exist. The plantains are typically smashed using a wooden mortar and pestle called a pilon, and sometimes served directly in the pilon. My stone mortar and pestle gets the job done nicely.

There are many ways to enjoy Mofongo. It is often dipped in chicken broth or a sauce made with mayonnaise and ketchup (aptly called “mayoketchup”), or served with a tomato-based sauce and grilled or sautéed shrimp. Personally, I enjoy it plain, as a simple starchy side dish, which is what you’ll find in this week’s recipe.

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Gluten-Free, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet

Kuy Teav is a Cambodian pork and seafood noodle soup, much like the Vietnamese Pho; in fact this dish is enjoyed in Vietnam, under the name Hu Tieu Nom Vang (“Phnom Penh Noodle Soup”). While I’m a huge fan of Pho (it’s in my cookbook), sometimes it’s a little too beefy for my tastes; Kuy Teav serves as an excellent break from the norm.

It’s believed that this dish originated among Chinese immigrants living in Cambodia, and later spread to the rest of the country. It’s also a popular breakfast meal. Like many Asian soups, there is no one way to prepare this dish. Feel free to experiment with all sorts of add-ins, including meat balls or any leftover meat you may have.

This dish sits firmly in the Perfect Health Diet spectrum of Paleo since it uses rice noodles, but feel free to use sweet potato noodles (or even zucchini noodles) instead. One of these days, I’ll help convince the Paleo world that rice is indeed Paleo, but until then, I’ll continue to use my favorite little hashtag: #teamwhiterice.

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