A couple months back, I posted my first sous vide recipe, this Sous Vide Salmon. Since then I’ve been enjoying this new technique as a unique way to cook food, especially lean meats, with precise results. A recent favorite has been sous vide steak, as it cooks the steak to an even internal temperature and only requires a quick sear to improve its outer texture.

I own and enjoy this Oliso SmartHub sous vide oven, which doubles as an induction cooktop for searing (and it boils water super quickly). There are plenty of other sous vide options out there, and I’ve heard great things about this Anova Bluetooth precision cooker (which is significantly cheaper than my Oliso setup, but requires you to use your own pot, and doesn’t double as an induction cooktop).

Flat iron steak comes from the cow’s shoulder, in the same region as cuts labeled as “top blade”. It is cut against the grain, well-marbled, and considered a cheaper steak cut because it quickly becomes tough when cooked beyond medium doneness; this is where a sous-vide cooking method really shines, since we can cook to a precise temperature. For today’s recipe, we’ll cook the steaks to 128F, followed by a sear which will likely raise the internal temperature to ~130F, just a hair under the definition of medium-rare.

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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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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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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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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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Bobotie is a baked mincemeat dish and one of the more recognizable foods to come out of South Africa. It’s commonly believed that Bobotie was first derived from the Javanese dish Botok, as Dutch colonists brought the dish to South Africa from their settlements in Indonesia (née Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century. While Botok is made with minced meat wrapped in banana leaves, Bobotie is often seasoned with curry powder and dried fruit and baked with a egg custard topping – a reflection of both local ingredients and European colonial tastes.

This dish joins the ranks of other dishes on my blog, like Mulligatawny Soup and Sukuma Wiki, as exotic-tasting meals that can be created using items you likely already have in your pantry. These are some of my favorite dishes to create and share, as they have a fairly low barrier to entry but can expand your palate and culinary repertoire.

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As far as I can tell, one of this year’s most popular gadgets was the Instant Pot, an electronic pressure cooker that doubles (triples, etc) as a slow cooker, rice pot, steamer, yogurt maker, and more. I’m most frequently asked to develop recipes for it by my readers, followed closely by folks looking for slow cooker (crockpot) recipes. So this week’s Pot Roast recipe is the best of both worlds – a pressure cooker recipe that also includes instructions for slow cookers. Heck, I even threw in Dutch Oven instructions while I was at it.

Don’t let the lengths of these instructions scare you away. Each recipe is essentially four parts: brown the roast, cook the roast (and vegetables), broil the roast (and vegetables), and reduce the sauce. It’s a bit more involved than dumping everything in a pot, but well worth the extra effort: tender meat, roasted vegetables, and tasty sauce all at once.

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When filling out our weekly meal plan, my family often consults my cookbooks; after all, the main reason I included particular recipes in those books is because they’re our favorites. This week we decided to make the Thai Red Curry recipe from Paleo Takeout, and I thought it would be fun to share the recipe with you folks as well.

Thai Red Curry differs from other popular Thai curries in that its base is made from dried chiles instead of fresh chiles. In order to temper the considerable heat of dried Thai chiles (usually the only chili used in traditional Thai Red Curries), I use a combination of large, mild dried chiles (like Anaheim, Guajillo, or New Mexico chiles) and spicy Thai chiles. To increase the intensity of your curry, simply add more spicy chiles.

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