4 – Red Meat

The most visited recipe on this blog, by a long shot, is my old Perfect Eye of Round Roast recipe. It’s been read over 1.7 million times, which is pretty crazy. The recipe is unique because you basically blast the roast with a high heat for a while, then shut the oven off completely for a couple hours while you watch Netflix, build a snowman, fume at Twitter, or whatever else people do with their free time.

Last week, the old post celebrated its sixth birthday, so I figured it’s time for a bit of an update. In place of shutting the oven off completely, we’ll just reduce the heat to 170F, which will give you the freedom to check the roast’s temperature periodically with an instant-read thermometer to make sure you pull it out of the oven right when it’s ready. I also like to pair my roast with a wine sauce reduction, so I’ve included that as well.

This recipe is adapted from the one I used in my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, which in turn was an updated version of my old blog post (we’re almost getting into Inception levels of cross-reference here). Fun fact: the photos from this post are actually from that original photo session from The Ancestral Table, back in March of 2013. They still hold up pretty well!

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Folks, just a quick note to let you know that my friends at ButcherBox are offering a special deal for the rest of the month: every new customer who signs up for their curated meat service will receive a package of their bacon in every monthly box for all of 2018!

I’ve been talking about ButcherBox for a while here on the blog now, because I’m a big fan of their service. They deliver monthly boxes of grass-fed beef, free range organic chicken, and heritage pork with curated cuts and recipes to back it up (including some from yours truly). The pricing averages out to less than $6.00 a meal, and shipping is free – they also give an option to customize the box by type of meat (all beef, beef and pork, and so on), or you can customize your entire box so you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Many of the recipes I’ve developed on this blog over the past couple years have come from cuts of meat I’ve received from ButcherBox, and I’m always happy to see the box on my doorstep each month. I’m especially fond of their ground beef, which is rich and flavorful – some of the best around. Here are a couple favorites I’ve developed: Argentinian-style Tri-Tip with Chimichurri, and Maple and Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin. I’ve found that their curated service challenges me to find new dishes to make with potentially unfamiliar cuts.

The bacon they’re including in this offer is excellent: uncured, sugar free, Whole30-friendly, and made from pasture-raised heritage breed pigs. This offer runs starting today and ends on Wednesday, January 31st. Click here to pick up this offer, and see you next Tuesday with another recipe!

Hi everyone, and welcome to 2018! It’s downright chilly across the US today, so let’s enjoy some stew.

Bigos is a Hunter’s Stew most associated with Poland, but likely of German origin. This dish, in one form or another, has been a part of Eastern European cuisine since at least the Middle Ages. The stew derives most of its flavor from a combination of meats, sausage, sauerkraut, cabbage, and mushrooms. I’ve found that adding dried plums (prunes) to the mixture adds a light sweetness to the dish that perfectly balances the sauerkraut.

It is likely that the original version of this dish was mostly meat, and reserved for the upper nobility; sauerkraut and cabbage were added to stretch out the meal, but eventually were incorporated into all preparations. Today, there remains significant variation of this dish – it is said that there are as many variations of Bigos as there are cooks in Poland.

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2017 has been quite a year, eh? We saw everything from a solar eclipse (estimated to have caused nearly $700 million in lost productivity), to the reveal of Chipotle queso (too grainy for my tastes) and the popularization of “unicorn” food items (yikes).

On a personal note, my family move from Florida to Virginia, and I’ve spent nearly every spare moment working on my new cookbook. I started a new assignment in the Navy, which will have me traveling quite a bit over the next couple of years; an exciting opportunity to eat my way around the globe.

Here on The Domestic Man, I released about 50 new recipes, bringing the site’s total recipe count to nearly 500. Some of the dishes were brand new inventions or favorites from my previous cookbooks, but most came from recipes I’m testing for the next book – a small preview of what’s to come. I’m really proud of this year’s crop of dishes, but I wanted to take a moment and highlight a few of my favorites. So without any further ado, let’s dig in.

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Hi everyone, being that it’s a holiday week, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of my favorite holiday-friendly roasts and vegetable accompaniments.

Honey and Citrus Glazed Ham
Maple and Bourbon Glazed Pork Loin
Roasted Leg of Lamb
Roast Duck with Winter Vegetables
Roast NY Strip Loin
Simple Roast Turkey

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
Winter Slaw
Skillet Roasted Winter Vegetables
Roasted Asparagus with Bearnaise Sauce
Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Hope you folks have a great holiday weekend – we’ll be keeping it quiet here in Virginia as I keep plugging away at the manuscript for my new cookbook. See you next week!

As many of you probably know, I’ve been blogging about my journey with the Paleo diet (or some approximation of it) for about seven years now. But what most people don’t realize is that I posted recipes on this site well before I decided to change my dietary lifestyle, albeit to a much smaller audience. There are very few remnants of the old site today, but one of them is this chili recipe, published about a month before I changed my diet.

I think it’s about time I updated that recipe – the pictures make me cringe every time I see them. In truth, I have updated the recipe twice before; it was featured in both The Ancestral Table and Paleo Takeout. Today’s creation differs from those recipes because it’s more in line with traditional Texas chili; in other words, it focuses mainly on the flavor that comes from dried chilis.

Before we get started, a quick caveat to any Texans reading the recipe: yes, I used tomatoes (considered sacrilege in certain circles). I found that by grating a couple tomatoes and cooking them down a bit, it adds a fruity balance you can’t get from dried chiles alone. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.

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The history of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family is surprisingly complex, as I recently found. They are one of the first cultivated foods; there is indication they were domesticated as far back as around 15,000 years ago. The Cucurbitaceae family is broken into five main groups, all important to humans for different reasons:

1) the Lagenaria genus, indigenous to Africa, includes bottle gourds (aka calabash), used as a container and musical instrument.
2) the Citrullus genus, also from Africa, includes watermelon and egusi (whose seeds remain an important food in Africa today).
3) the Cucumis genus, is of unknown origin (but likely the Middle East) and includes cucumbers, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon.
4) Luffa is a genus of fibrous gourds, grown in Asia and eaten when immature, or matured and dried on the vine for use as body scrubs (this is where the word “loofa” comes from).
5) and finally, the Cucurbita genus encompasses today’s subject – pumpkins and squash.

As you probably know, the winter squashes we know today – pumpkins, acorn, butternut, and the like – were first domesticated in the New World, and are relatively new additions to other cuisines. But when you look up the origins of other squashes, like zucchini, the results are not so clear. As I dug through recipes for Kousa Mahshi, many would describe this dish as an ancient favorite, as if this delicious stuffed squash was enjoyed in Constantinople a thousand years ago.

In truth, zucchini (and all summer squashes) are simply immature cultivars of the Cucurbita genus, eaten while the rind is still edible. Zucchini in particular was first developed in Northern Italy, and not introduced to the rest of the world until the 1930s – a far cry from the Byzantine Empire!

So in the face of these facts, it’s safe to say that Kousa Mahshi is a relatively new invention, likely a reinvention of the older Sarma/Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) dish common in the Mediterranean, Balkans, and Persian Gulf.

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I’m currently sitting at my computer with a blanket and a cat on my lap, and wearing a hoodie and house slippers for the first time this year. Sounds like the perfect time to break out a stew recipe.

Pichelsteiner is a very typical stew, found in similar shapes and sizes all over the world. There are several stories to explain its invention, a common trait among stews. One folk tale details how a farmer’s wife fed the stew to a group of marauding soldiers, saving the day (and her family) with this new culinary invention. Another tale explains how a Bavarian chef prepared Pichelsteiner for party atop Büchelstein mountain (allegedly, the name of this dish morphed from there). Finally, the small Bavarian village of Regen, along the Czech border, claims ownership of this dish as well, which they have communally served at the anniversary of their church’s dedication in 1874.

Pichelsteiner shares another feature with other regional stews: it serves as the solution to those pesky leftovers that creep up in the fridge. As truly communal fare, the stew incorporates a spectrum of ingredients available to pre-industrial Germans: mushrooms, onion, carrots, leeks, cabbage, potatoes, and three types of meat. So if you don’t have all the ingredients, or if you have a couple extra that aren’t listed below, don’t fret – there’s a lot of wiggle room here.

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The word tagine (tajine, الطاجين) is both the name of a North African stew, and the conical earthenware pot in which it is usually cooked. The use of ceramics in North Africa was the result of Roman influence, and these dishes have been enjoyed for thousands of years.

Tagine pots are unique in that they trap steam and return the condensed liquid to the dish, enabling chefs to make tender foods with minimal added water, which is ideal in areas where water is scarce. For today’s recipe, I’ve provided instructions to create this dish with a dutch oven or deep skillet; so long as the lid has a very tight seal, you should be able to closely mimic the original dish – some folks like to cover their pots with tin foil before adding the lid, to ensure a completely tight seal.

There are countless spice options when preparing a tagine, but for this particular recipe I modeled my approach after a traditional Mrouzia, a tagine that is often served during Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice). This Muslim celebration honors Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command, only to be provided a sacrificial goat at the last minute instead. During this celebration, a lamb (or sometimes goat) is ritually sacrificed and shared among family, neighbors, and the needy; in many settings, they prepare Mrouzia using the sacrificed lamb.

Mrouzia is served with toasted (blanched) almonds, and typically flavored with saffron and Ras el Hanout, a popular North African spice mixture. Commercial versions of Ras el Hanout exist, but it’s not too challenging to put together your own fresh spice blend (my recipe is below); you’ll likely have most of these spices in your pantry already, except perhaps for mace. While potatoes aren’t a typical accompaniment to Mrouzia, I find that they add a hefty balance to the sweet/salty mixture of the dish; steamed basmati rice (or couscous, if you’re not gluten-averse) also works well as a starch.

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Potjiekos has all of the things I like in a good stew: tender and rich meat, sauce that’s bursting with deep flavors, subtly-seasoned vegetables, and a good backstory. I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately (well, once a week), and digging into the show’s theories and lore, so I’m most interested in the backstory part right now. Let’s dig in.

Cast-iron cooking was first popularized in Europe during the 1500s. During the Siege of Leiden, South Holland, in 1573-1574 (part of the Eighty Years’ War between the Netherlands and Spain), the local townspeople turned to communal hodgepodge cooking to survive – in small cast-iron pots, with any meat and vegetables they could find. This communal dish bore the name hutspot, and remains popular today.

Hutspot cooking was carried by Dutch explorers who arrived at the Cape of Good Hope (in present day Cape Town, South Africa) in 1652; over time, the dish started to incorporate new spices brought in from the Dutch East India Company, and took on the name Potjiekos (“small pot food”), using a small three-pronged cast-iron pot called a potjie pot, and cooked over an open fire.

Potjiekos eventually spread throughout South Africa when Voortrekkers (Dutch pioneers), dissatisfied with the then-British colonial administration of Cape Colony, migrated eastwards in 1837 into much of what makes greater South Africa today. Locals appreciated the practicality of potjie pots over their traditional clay pots, and they were integrated into several tribal cuisines – often to cook maize-based porridges such as putu or pap. It’s striking to see these medieval cauldrons take root in a place so far from their origin, and it’s a testament to the adaptability of humankind.

Today, Potjiekos remains a communal dish, cooked outdoors among friends (and a bottle of wine). If you are comfortable with cooking over an open fire, it’s definitely worth the extra effort. For everyone else, adding a bit of liquid smoke can replicate the experience while remaining in the kitchen. I even added Instant Pot instructions below the recipe, for good measure. This dish can be made with any meat, from lamb to chicken to fish, but I prefer the naturally rich flavor that comes from simmering oxtails.

Potjiekos is distinct from traditional stews in that the ingredients are not stirred together until right before serving; instead, the vegetables are layered over the meat and steamed, giving each ingredient its own distinct flavor. Additionally, you don’t want to add much liquid to the pot – just enough to cook the oxtails – since the vegetables will release plenty of liquid as they steam.

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