Beef

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe from one of my cookbooks, and now seems like a perfect time to share one of my favorites from Paleo Takeout: Gyudon! It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m super busy with work stuff right now, promise.

Gyudon, a donburi (rice bowl) dish, first became popular in the 1800s as Japan westernized and started eating more beef. Today, this dish is associated with quick meals. Nearly every Gyudon shop in Japan serves this dish with complimentary Miso Soup.

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Pulehu is a Hawaiian cooking method, which translates to “roast over hot embers”. This method was traditionally used for items like breadfruit, but today it’s most associated with steak, typically seasoned simply with ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read my short history on beef in Hawaii, at the start of my recent Pipikaula recipe post. If you’ve already read it, cool, let’s pulehu some steaks.

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I’m often asked what is my favorite dish to prepare; it basically comes with the territory in this line of work. While it’s hard to choose a favorite, Beef Rendang often comes to mind – there’s truly no taste like it.

Rendang is a dry curry that originated among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra and later spread throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. Its age is unknown, but historians have traced its origin as far back as 500 years. There are three recognized forms of rendang in Minangkabau culture, each depending on the cooking time: a pale, lightly cooked curry known as gulai; a browned but still liquid curry called kalio; and a rich, dry, dark brown dish called rendang, the version prepared in this recipe. In other countries, most notably Malaysia and the Netherlands, the rendang most often served is closer to kalio. While its extended cooking time can be a test of patience, it’s well worth the wait; the aroma and overwhelming richness of rendang are unforgettable.

I first published a rendang recipe nearly four years ago, and it’s made some slight but significant changes since then. Earlier this year I made a batch, and took the photo you see above – it quickly became one of my favorite photos of the year, and so I figured it was a good excuse to share the updated recipe. For the past year or two, this has been the version we’ve been making at home, as it has fewer steps and comes together very quickly.

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Pipikaula, like many dishes in Hawaii, is the result of several cultures colliding. First, let’s talk about how beef became part of the Hawaiian diet, since cows are not native to the islands. In 1793, famous British Navy explorer George Vancouver gifted King Kamehameha I (the chief who first united the Hawaiian islands) a bull and five cows; the king placed a kapu (Hawaiian taboo) on the hunting of these cattle and their descendants that lasted through 1830; by 1845 there were an estimated 25,000 feral cattle on the big island of Hawaii.

John Palmer Parker, an American who allegedly first arrived in Hawaii in 1809 by jumping off of a ship (there’s probably a good story there), quickly gained the favor of King Kamehameha I upon his infamous arrival. In 1815, after a bit of travel, he returned to Hawaii with a state-of-the-art American musket; the king gave him the honor of hunting the first cattle in Hawaii. Over the next 20 years, he helped to thin the number of feral cattle on the island, and was gifted some land as compensation. Parker founded Parker Ranch in 1847, one of the oldest and largest ranches in the United States, with 250,000 acres that remain today.

To help manage livestock, Parker brought in cowboys (Vaqueros) from present-day California (Mexico at the time); these cowboys were called Paniolo (a Hawaiian pronunciation of the word “Español“), and the name sticks today. The Paniolos would dry strips of beef in the sun, to chew on while driving cattle; this food was eventually named Pipikaula (literally “beef rope”). To flavor the beef, they would use soy sauce, as it was locally available thanks to Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

So that’s how Pipikaula came to be, through a joining of Hawaiian, British, American, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese cultures. Today, Pipikaula is served in Hawaiian restaurants and sometimes at luaus. It is commonly dried in wire boxes in the sun, or by hanging it to dry, then broiled or pan-fried before serving. The recipe that I’m sharing today is modeled after my wife’s favorite Hawaiian restaurant, Helena’s Hawaiian Food, on N. King Street in Honolulu. For efficiency’s sake, we’ll dry the beef in an oven and pan-fry it to a crisp.

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Currywurst is a popular German dish, and a staple of fast-food eating in the country. Its influence is so far-reaching that the dish is even served at McDonald’s, and is almost always accompanied by its own iconic fork (I used a spork in my photo, a fair alternative).

Currywurst was first served in the 1950s, in Berlin, as an object of Western influence; ketchup was introduced from the UK following World War II, and later paired with sausages, fries, and curry powder – the basic elements of Currywurst.

For today’s recipe, we’ll make a quick tomato sauce, subtly spiced, and serve it with your choice of sausage — anything from bratwurst to hot dogs will work. Before we build the sauce, be sure to get some potatoes in the oven, as they’re the most time-consuming element of this dead-simple recipe.

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making meals that give me a distinct sense of accomplishment in the shortest amount of time. Part of that comes from having the new baby in the house, as I’ve resumed full dinner-making duties, but maintaining my typical busy workdays (for a while there, my wife was taking the brunt of dinner duty, using my cookbooks and this blog as a reference). Sure, I could grab a jar of tomato sauce and toss it with some gluten-free pasta, but how long would it take me to make bolognese from scratch? Today’s recipe is the result of a recent project, where I worked to make a meal that’s the best of both worlds: something I can be proud of, but not keep my family waiting in the process.

The method is simple: sauté an onion, add some beef, then tomato sauce and spices; as the flavors marry, boil the pasta and blast some tomatoes under the broiler, then throw it all together. Your pasta options are many: gluten-free spaghetti, spiralized vegetables, or even Cappello’s grain-free fettuccine – whatever fits your dietary restrictions or budget.

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Picadillo is the name of a variety of dishes first originating in Spain. Versions of Picadillo can be found across Latin America and the Caribbean, and it has reached as far as the Philippines. Each variation has its own distinct quality; in the Dominican Republic, Picadillo is served with hard-boiled eggs, while in Puerto Rico it is used as a filler in Empanadas, or in savory pastries known as Piononos. The word Picadillo itself comes from the Spanish word Picar, to chop or mince.

My favorite Picadillo is the Cuban version, aptly named Picadillo Cubano. As with any beloved dish, there are many regional variations, but it generally combines the unique flavors of cumin, oregano, green olives, capers, and raisins. The end result is not unlike America’s favorite crockpot dish, Chili con Carne, but with a sweet-and-savory dynamic that’s equally comforting and exotic – and it all comes together in 30 minutes.

Not to confuse you, but the Cuban version of Picadillo is found in other countries, as well. For example, it is called Arroz a la Cubana in the Philippines, where it is topped with a fried egg. Not a terrible addition, if you ask me.

For today’s recipe I tested ButcherBox‘s ground beef; this is my second time trying their 100% grassfed beef (read about my first experience here), and I was just as impressed as the first time around. If you’re looking for a fun new take on pasture-raised meats – as part of a curated package shipped monthly – you can’t go wrong with these folks.

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My parents-in-law recently visited from Hawaii over the holidays, to help around the house as we adjusted to having a new baby in our family. It was great spending the holidays with them, but it also made me realize how much I miss living in Hawaii. I lived there from ages 21 to 28, and many of the events that shaped who I am today – from meeting and marrying my wife, to honing my skills as a home chef, to suffering the worst of my health adventures – came while living in view of the Honolulu skyline. For a few of those years, Janey and I lived with her parents, whom we affectionately called our “roommates”.

When we left the island in 2008, it genuinely felt like I was leaving home; time has caused that sentiment to wane a bit, but in the end, Hawaii has a special place in my heart. And within that special place in my heart there is another, perhaps specialer place in my heart, which is where Hawaii’s Chinese-style oxtail soup resides.

The title for Hawaii’s best oxtail soup is hotly contested. I’ve heard everything from Kapiolani Coffee Shop to Aiea Bowl. Somewhat surprisingly, restaurants attached to bowling alleys are generally known for having good oxtail soup – even the famous Kapiolani Coffee Shop oxtail soup got its start at Kam Bowl, which closed in 2007 but re-opened just last month.

I like to think that preparing an authentic dish from Hawaii makes the sting of not living there hurt a little less, and you really can’t go wrong with a Chinese-inspired creation that’s equal parts rich and comforting. So we’re going to recreate it today for those of us who can’t just drive to our local bowling alley to buy a bowl of soup. Included below are stovetop and electric pressure cooker variations of the recipe, whatever floats your boat.

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Lately, I’ve been taking tiny steps to minimize all those little stresses in life. For example, I’ve been driving on backroads on my way home from work each day, which has much better scenery and fewer cars zipping in and out in front of me. It might take an extra minute or two out of my day, but it’s adding years to my life, right? That’s what I’d like to think. Regardless of any increases in my life expectancy, I’ve been arriving at home in a better mood, so it’s well worth it.

In similar fashion, we’ve recently been taking it a bit easy in the kitchen. Having a small baby at home will do that; my lullaby-singing skills have greatly improved, but I definitely have less time to chop up a bunch of ingredients. So meals like these Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats have been a hit, with minimal hands-on time but plenty of flavor. Plus, this recipe requires only three ingredients: squash, pasta sauce, and ground beef.

If you’re hoping to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, you could always make your own pasta sauce (here’s my recipe). Additionally, I’ve included quick instructions on how to roast the spaghetti squash seeds, so that nothing is wasted.

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I don’t reverse-sear often enough. When faced with a choice chunk of beef, my go-to method is a traditional sear (see one of my favorite recipes of last year, this Roast NY Strip Loin). But many prefer a reverse-sear, where you cook the meat to just under your desired temperature, then blast it with some high heat to finish it off. This allows you to heat the meat evenly and results in a better distinction between the crispy crust and tender center (here is a good writeup). So I decided to share this method using these miso-marinated boneless short ribs.

Many folks in the Paleo world eschew all forms of soy, and balk at the idea of cooking with miso. But as I mentioned in my five years Paleo post last month, I believe a more nuanced approach to diet is appropriate, and we shouldn’t discount all foods from particular groups (even if it does make for handy and marketable “eat/avoid” charts). Here’s my stance on soy, taken from the pages of Paleo Takeout:

“Make no bones about it—soy is pretty terrible for you. It has been linked to malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, and even heart disease and cancer. It has one of the highest toxin profiles of any legume, and it’s baffling that we feed this stuff to our children via infant formula.

But there’s a bright spot in all this doom and gloom; fermenting soy, especially through the long, slow process of making tamari and miso, eliminates its phytic acid and other digestive inhibitors. However, the fermentation process doesn’t totally destroy phytoestrogen, another bad guy, although it does reduce it by up to 90 percent; you’re likely ingesting more phytoestrogen through sesame seeds and garlic than through fermented soy.”

Miso’s bold flavor makes for a great marinade. Adding a bit of acidity, in the form of mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake, helps tenderize the meat as well.

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