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It’s starting to get a little chilly here in the Florida panhandle, which is a welcome change from our typical summer heat. At the same time, this weather has me scrambling to do some last-minute grilling before the grilling season ends. This week’s recipe is perfect for that dwindling window of opportunity to spend time outdoors; it takes a few minutes to prep the marinade (which tastes best when left overnight), then you just throw the chicken on a grill and swing by later to pick it up when it’s done.

Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken) is a popular Spanish simmered chicken dish, characterized by its generous use of garlic. It is believed that the inclusion of garlic was because this dish was originally prepared with rabbit, and the garlic masked the rabbit’s gamey taste. Pollo al Ajillo also exists in some Caribbean and Latin American regions, and is especially popular in Cuba, where they tend to roast the chicken instead of simmering it. This recipe is modeled after the Cuban version, which also uses citrus fruit (in this case, orange juice) to help tenderize the meat.

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After first watching The LEGO Movie last year, our son Oliver started asking about the mysterious phenomenon known as “Taco Tuesday“. So we started a new tradition of what we call “Taco Bowl Tuesdays”; as you may have seen on my Instagram feed, we make them pretty regularly now. I thought it would be pretty fun to write up our Taco Bowl Tuesday recipe as a change of pace and a glimpse into our everyday lives.

The base of the recipe is simple: equal portions of seasoned ground beef, rice, and lettuce. There is some variation in which rice we use; sometimes we make Mexican Rice, and other times we make Cilantro-Lime Rice. The toppings themselves are usually a combination of what we have on hand and what we’re feeling at the moment.

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Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is a traditional Italian dish. The word “Cacciatora” translates to “Hunter” in English, as this dish was originally used to prepare rabbit and gamefowl. Today, variations that feature rabbit meat still abound.

The story goes that this “hunter’s stew” consisted of ingredients you could find in the forest or open fields. Many American versions of this dish have been altered considerably from their source material; breaded, fried chicken cutlets are often smothered in a marinara sauce (not unlike Chicken Parmesan, really). Italian versions often feature tomatoes but not overwhelmingly so; instead they’re a complement to other vegetables like onion, mushrooms, carrot, and bell pepper. Northern Italian variations of this dish use white wine, while Southern Italians use red wine.

Typically, this dish is prepared with a broken-down whole chicken. I’m down for that, but at the same time, I’m always concerned about the different cooking times for dark meat and finicky chicken breasts; instead, I prepared this recipe to feature thighs and drumsticks, so that everything comes together naturally.

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One of my favorite parts of moving to the South last year is that I can now dive head-first into a new food culture. For example, take today’s New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp. A local friend asked me if I had tried “BBQ Shrimp” yet; I immediately thought of shrimp doused in smokey-sweet KC-style barbecue sauce, which sounded a bit weird (but not altogether terrible, honestly). My friend then explained that BBQ Shrimp here in the South is not like your typical barbecue experience. Instead, it’s a crispy shrimp dish flavored with hot sauce, butter, and rosemary, typically served as an appetizer.

Barbecue Shrimp was first popularized by Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans during the 1950s. This dish has an “old timey” feel to it today, mostly because of its liberal use of Worcestershire sauce (made famous by Lea & Perrins back in the 1830s). The end result is a little tangy, a bit spicy, and very robust in flavor. One thing I really appreciate about this dish is that it lets the shrimp take center stage. Moreover, it’s relatively cheap to throw together once you get your hands on some high-quality shrimp (especially when you consider the fact that this dish will set you back $26 at the original restaurant!). Head-on shrimp is traditionally used, but I won’t tell on you if you use shelled shrimp.

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Pommes Anna is a famous French preparation of white potatoes, borne in the mid 19th century. The story goes that the dish was named after Anna Deslions, a well-known Parisian courtesan, who frequented Café Anglais where chef Adolphe Dugléré invented the dish to honor her (and the wealthy clientele that she brought into the popular restaurant).

The idea of naming food after celebrities appears to be a time-honored tradition. Some examples: Beef Wellington was named after the Duke of Wellington (in celebration of his victory during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815), Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita, Beef Carpaccio is named in honor of painter Vittore Carpaccio (who worked with vibrant reds), and who could forget the Arnold Palmer?

At other times, the food itself turns folks into celebrities: Caesar salad is not named after Julius Caesar but Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who invented the salad in 1924 while living in Tijuana, Mexico; and nachos are purportedly the invention of Ignacio Anaya, a boy who in 1943 whipped up the dish to feed some hungry soldiers in Piedras Negras, Mexico.

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Having used up my vacation days writing a book earlier this year, I wasn’t able to join my wife and son during their summer trip to visit family in Hawaii. While there, they lovingly (teasingly?) texted me photos of all the delicious meals they were enjoying. So for my own little slice of revenge, I developed this recipe for one of Hawaii’s best-known dishes, Huli-Huli Chicken, while they were gone.

“Huli-Huli” translates to “turn, turn” in the Hawaiian language, but this chicken is not a traditional Hawaiian dish. In the 1950s, the head of a Hawaii chicken breeders association, Ernest Morgado, broiled up some teriyaki chicken for a farmers’ meeting. The chicken was a hit, and so he started selling the cooked chickens for local fundraisers. The name “Huli-Huli” comes from the fact that the chickens are cooked between two grills, and are turned as each side finishes cooking. Today, Huli-Huli Chicken is still a staple fundraising tool in Hawaii. Morgado, who passed away in 2002, holds the Guinness world record for the single largest chicken barbecue, cooking 46,386 chicken halves at a school fundraiser in 1981.

Morgado trademarked the name “Huli-Huli” in 1958 and the sauce is still sold today. For a bit of excitement, I decided to make my recipe using wings, to fully capture the sticky-sweet fun of eating this dish. My take on the sauce uses pineapple juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar to lend the chicken its sweet flavor (as opposed to gobs of brown sugar), and a bit of red palm oil will give the dish its signature red color (usually achieved with ketchup).

By the way, Ernest Morgado and I share more than just a love for chicken: he served as a Navy Chief Petty Officer during WWII (I’ve been serving in the Navy since 2000, and was recently promoted to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer).

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Phew! My summer book release tour is almost over, just one last signing in Destin FL on Thursday with Jennifer Robins, author of Down South Paleo. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been traveling every weekend since June, only to return to work each week. It was a lot of fun to go out and meet so many nice folks, but I’m really looking forward to having a weekend off; I already have a hefty list of new recipes I’d like to tackle!

Since I still have cookbooks on the brain, I wanted to share my take on Chicken Fried Steak; folks who already own my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, should recognize this recipe.

Also known as Country Fried Steak (or CFS), Chicken Fried Steak is a staple of Southern cuisine in the United States. Since its name stems from the fact that it is prepared like Fried Chicken, this dish is usually associated with Southern cuisine. But it wasn’t born exclusively in the South. German and Austrian immigrants arrived in Texas during the 1800s, and wanted to create one of their favorite foods, Schnitzel, but had a hard time finding pork. Instead, they used beef, since it was in abundance, and CFS as we know it today was born. I love the fact that it’s a mixture of Old World and New World cuisines.

Chicken Fried Steak is a great meal for those on a budget, as cube steak (sometimes called minute steak) is generally easy to find and very cheap. If cube steak is unavailable in your area, you can make your own using thin round steaks and a blade meat tenderizer (also, your local butcher can usually prepare cube steak if you ask nicely).

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As summer’s heat comes full swing, I’ve been less apt to spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Sometimes a cold meal like my recent Ahi Poke or Gazpacho creations come to mind, but other times I still want something hot – so long as it doesn’t require heating up the whole kitchen. I think this Thai Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry is a perfect solution, as it only takes a few minutes on the burner, and since it’s mostly vegetables, it also comes off more as a light meal than a big feast. 

One of my favorite finds during my April trip to Tabasco was their Garlic Pepper sauce. It carries the same flavor as their original sauce, but with an added garlic accent that is complimentary without being distracting. It seemed like an excellent fit for this Stir-Fry, and I was right!

This Thai version of Sweet and Sour differs a bit from the sticky/sweet Chinese-American version we’re all more accustomed to. The main difference is that it’s mostly vegetables, with shrimp an optional add-in. It’s also more on the sour side than sweet, which fares really well with the fresh cucumbers found in the final product.

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I met the folks behind Otto’s Cassava Flour while attending the Paleo f(x) conference in April, and during our chat, they challenged me to make a pizza crust using their flour. Never one to turn a challenge down, I accepted, and here’s what I came up with. I found that a combination of their flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch created a pizza crust that is light and crisp, and still a little chewy like my original pizza crust.

Cassava flour differs from tapioca starch, despite the fact that they come from the same plant. While tapioca starch is the extracted starch from the root of the yuca plant, cassava flour is peeled and baked yuca root, so it retains the plant’s fiber as well as the starch. Tapioca starch behaves like cornstarch, but cassava flour adds body to dishes, mimicking wheat flour in dishes like this tortilla recipe from Forks and Beans.

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About this time last year, I posted a Blue Crab and Chipotle Tabasco Bisque that quickly because one of my most-cooked soups (and this is coming from a guy who cooks a lot of soup). I’ve been playing around with the formula a bit, to the point where I felt it was appropriate to post another one using shellfish (and that Shellfish Stock recipe from last week).

Quick reminder – I am giving away eight $25 Costco gift cards, and the giveaway ends on Thursday, so jump on it if you haven’t already.

And now for the big news: I found out that my cookbook, Paleo Takeout, made it onto the New York Times best seller list for July! How cool is that? Now I need to go through all of my social media profiles and add my new title to everything. I’m super excited and tremendously thankful for the support I’ve received in getting this book off the ground and into people’s hands. And to think, less than six months ago I planned on releasing it as an eBook because I didn’t think it would have a large audience – thank you for your readership and enthusiasm, which convinced me to release it as a hard copy book! Okay, enough gushing, let’s make some food.

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