Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal (Southeast France) stew, typically made with fish and shellfish. Although it was originally made with rockfish, today it’s also made with all sorts of different seafood. For this recipe in particular, I decided to go with lobster and mussels; I like the idea of pairing two foods that are at opposite ends of the price spectrum (lobster = rare & elegant, mussels = common & unglamorous). This dish is paired with my lobster stock recipe, so be sure to check that out since you’ll need some stock. Putting this dish together – stock and all – is actually a fairly quick experience: in about 90 minutes you’ll have a recipe that will have your dinner guests swooning.
Don’t let the assumed costs of buying lobster deter you. If available in your area, live lobsters are surprising affordable when compared to the going rate at a seafood restaurant. And really, sometimes you can’t put a price tag on eating a rich, classic meal in the comfort of your own home.
Also, don’t forget that I’m hosting a giveaway this week; click here for a chance to win two live 1.5 lb lobsters from lobster.com ($65 value)! The giveaway is limited to continental US residents and ends midnight, Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014. Good luck!
I think it’d be really fun if you cooked through The Ancestral Table, and I’d love to follow you on your journey. I wrote this book with that very idea in mind, and for two specific kinds of people. First, for anyone that is looking to try out a more healthful way of eating, this might be the tastiest way to go about it. Secondly, for anyone that’s been eating a Paleo-style diet for a while and is looking to either 1) try out some new dishes or 2) ramp up their skills in the kitchen, I think this is also a great solution.
I’m not saying that you have to exclusively cook every meal straight out of this book (after all, there are only a couple breakfast recipes in here), but I have a feeling that most people (and their tastebuds!) will benefit from cooking frequently out of my little tome.
It would be awesome if you shared your progress as you cook your way through The Ancestral Table. Please send me emails, upload pictures to my Facebook page, tag me on Instagram. Or simply use my nifty little hashtag, #theancestraltable, so that I can find it.
To kickstart your new adventure, I wanted to provide you with a list of items (tools and ingredients) that you’ll need in order to tackle most of these recipes. That way, when the book releases on February 11th you can jump right in.
Santa Maria Tri-Tip Steak is a specialty of Santa Maria, California, which lies about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Tri-tip is taken from the bottom sirloin of the cow, and is often cut into steaks and sold as “sirloin steak” (a tougher version of the prized “top sirloin steak”). When sold whole, as is used in this recipe, it can weigh up to 4 pounds. This lean, moderately tough, and economical cut of meat fares best when cooked only to medium-rare or medium.
The key to making a good Santa Maria Tri-Tip is cooking it so that it has a crusty outside and tender, juicy inside. There are different ways to achieve this result; in Santa Maria, chefs often use a grill that can be adjusted up and down, so as to develop a crust and then pull it away from the fire to prevent burning.
My method is similar. We’re going to only heat one side of the grill, indirectly roast it until it reaches a certain temperature, then place it directly over the fire to create a tasty crust at the end. The end result is a dead simple recipe that always makes for a tasty experience.
This past week I did a guest recipe on PaleoParents.com, and I wanted to share the recipe with you folks too. This is actually an update of an old recipe that I decided to re-shoot because I was unsatisfied with the recipe’s photos. It’s amazing to see how much my photography has changed over the past three years; sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. For comparison’s sake, I’ve included the old picture at the bottom of this post. Although I’m posting all Whole30 recipes all month, this recipe isn’t technically Whole30 because it uses white wine; but it’s a guest post, so it’s exempt, right??
Lately, I’ve been on a personal quest to turn more people on to seafood. Besides the fact that it’s both delicious and full of nutrients, it can often be dead-simple to prepare. Take this recipe, for example, which requires only 15 minutes from start to finish – 5 minutes to scrub the clams, 5 minutes to prep the melted butter, and 5 minutes to steam the clams. Cooking clams at home is also much more economical than ordering them at a restaurant; you can often find and steam clams yourself for a fraction of the cost you’d pay out in town.
Clams in particular are especially nutritious. Pound-for-pound, they have more iron than beef liver, and they’re high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, calcium, selenium and potassium. They are an excellent source of protein, and are especially healthful when considering that they have Omega-3 fatty acids and a much lower contamination profile than other ocean-based sources of Omega-3 (like salmon). Have I convinced you yet?
Unlike other seafood, farm-raised clams (and mussels) are preferred over wild-caught clams; they are raised on ropes suspended above the sea floor, which makes them less gritty than wild clams dredged from the ocean floor. Dredging can also damage the ocean’s ecosystem.
My path to a Paleo-style way of eating wasn’t perfectly straightforward. After years of health issues, in late 2010 I came upon an article describing a recently-published book called The Paleo Solution, written by a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about prehistory since his last name is Wolf. The book promised to demonstrate positive results for a number of health issues, including autoimmune diseases. Feeling like I was at a dead end with my own issues with autoimmunity, I bought the book at the very first opportunity, devoured it, and switched my diet within days.
While I’m very grateful to Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution, it only gave me a glimpse of the journey I would need to take in order to restore my health. Much of the eating advice in the book was based on low-carb principles, which is understandable since the book is geared towards those who are looking to lose weight. But after losing an initial 30 pounds (likely due to discontinuing steroid therapy at that same time), I struggled with maintaining my weight, and had consistently low energy. It wasn’t until I reintroduced white rice and potatoes, foods promoted by The Perfect Health Diet, that I really started to feel like I had figured out an ideal way of eating for me (and one that I’ve maintained since). Dairy was also something I had to figure out on my own, as I found that I better tolerated certain types of dairy (mainly heavy cream, butter, and fermented products), and that my tolerance improved as my health improved. Dairy just didn’t warrant a blanket “avoid” stamp since individual tolerance was a better determining factor.
So over the years, I have had a hard time answering when people asked me where to start reading if they wanted to learn about the Paleo diet. The Paleo Solution is fairly inflexible, and was quickly becoming outdated as new voices entered the scene and brought new ideas with them. The Perfect Health Diet is a superior work, and provides an excellent template for sustained eating, but its lifelong approach to diet can be intimidating to those who aren’t ready for such a long commitment right out of the gate.
And in steps Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser.
Mankind has been dealing with leftover rice for a long time. While some common uses for old rice are fried rice and congee (rice porridge), rice cakes are also a great way to clean out the fridge. Many variations of rice cakes are made using leftover rice that’s pressed together and steamed or pan-fried. When ingredients are mixed into the rice cake, they often take on a different name, fritter.
In putting together this recipe, I looked to create a dish that has an ideal macronutrient ratio (40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carb), which I achieved by mixing in fish and an egg yolk, and pan-frying them in coconut oil. They came out great, and I plan on using this recipe as a baseline for future creations.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
I love collard greens. They may be my favorite green food – well, second to mint chocolate chip ice cream, at least. They’ve been in use for at least 2,000 years; the ancient Greeks cultivated them along with kale.
I typically simmer my collard greens with some sort of smoked pork (usually bacon or smoked ham hocks), chicken broth, and apple cider vinegar, and it’s always delicious, although it can get a little boring. So a while back I consulted my buddy, the internet, to find another use for collard greens. During my search, I kept coming across the word Sukuma Wiki, the Swahili name for collard greens. Sukuma Wiki literally translates to “push/stretch the week” – collard greens are available year-round in East Africa, and are used to stretch meals out to last all week.
In the culinary world, Sukuma Wiki is a common name for a Kenyan dish of braised collard greens, usually prepared with ground meat, tomatoes, and onions. Turns out that this dish is dead easy to make, both in terms of time/preparation and ingredients. I was able to whip it up using stuff already in my pantry, and it’s always nice to find another use for ground beef. But the best part about this dish is its taste: it’s absolutely delicious, and has just a hint of exoticness to make it remarkable. One thing that sets this dish apart is that the collard greens are simply wilted down, and so they retain a slightly crunchy texture that really complements the ground beef.
Because of their heavy use, beef cheeks are super lean and tough. While this doesn’t sound like a fun cut of meat to cook, when braised the results are remarkable: with a little liquid, heat, and time, one cheek magically transforms into a dense, succulent, and immensely satisfying meal for two.
A traditional French-style braise in broth, red wine, mirepoix veggies, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs help to bring a full flavor to the meat. But after several hours in the oven I felt like I needed to add something to liven the dish up; so I worked out a new favorite invention of mine, anchovy butter.
A few weeks ago, a reader suggested I try my hand at Caldo Verde (“green broth”), a traditional Portuguese soup that is often considered their national dish. It was the perfect recommendation – the soup’s use of simple, satisfying ingredients, plus the addition of slightly-spicy sausage, make it an ideal late spring / early summer meal.
Initially, the soup’s use of kale might seem out of place for a country that is geographically closer to Africa than the rest of Europe. But when you take into context the fact that the soup originates from Portugal’s northern Minho region, which was once under Roman and Celtic occupation and still retains some of that influence today, the culinary presence of a hearty cabbage like collard greens (or kale like in this recipe) makes sense. One of my favorite aspects of this dish is that it’s a perfect pauper’s meal: combine some very basic and always-available ingredients (water, onion, potatoes, cabbage) and add other items if and when they are available (broth, sausage).
The word cutlet is a bit of a culinary mystery – everyone has their own interpretation of what it means. Throughout most of Europe, a cutlet is a thinly-sliced cut of meat (usually pork or veal) that is beaten, covered in breadcrumbs, and fried (think schnitzel). This is the same in the US, but they are mostly made with chicken breasts. The Japanese like to use pork (tonkatsu). Australia uses either chicken or lamb. Great Britain is a little different in that cutlets are usually not breaded.
And then there’s Russia. Somehow, as they trotted down the path of history, the Russians decided that котлет was a pretty good word for what we in the US would call a hamburger steak. Russian cutlets are a very common household dish, probably due to how easy they are to prepare. What’s funny is that they often eat cutlets between two slices of bread as a snack – which sounds a lot like a hamburger to me, although they are still called cutlets.
So at the end of the day, you could have three people walking down the street,
a) eating a Chick-Fil-A sandwich
b) eating a schnitzel sandwich (they exist!)
c) eating what basically looks like a hamburger
…and they’d all tell you they are eating cutlets.
So, after working on my Russian cutlets for a while, I decided to make a dish that is unique in that it would be fit to serve at a restaurant (which is ironic, because cutlets are rarely served in restaurants in Russia).