summer

I’ve been in a Thai food mood lately, as evidenced by last month’s Green Papaya Salad recipe. The flavors that are ubiquitous in Thai cooking – namely coconut, fish sauce, lemongrass, and lime – make for excellent summer eating.

Tom Kha Gai is a soup that often takes a backseat to its hot-and-sour sibling, Tom Yum. Both share several ingredients, but today’s recipe also contains coconut milk, which gives the soup a smooth flavor and tends to be a bit more filling, too. I first developed this recipe in partnership with my friends Brent and Heather for their blog, That Paleo Couple, and liked the results so much that I added a tweaked version to Paleo Takeout in 2015. The recipe you find below is what appeared in the book.

As its translated name (“Chicken Galangal Soup”) implies, this soup is best experienced with galangal, a rhizome (underground root) that is most similar to ginger. Ginger will work in a pinch, but consider buying dried galangal if you don’t have access to the fresh variety; dried galangal keeps well and works great in soups like this Tom Kha Gai. Same goes for kaffir lime leaves, which are easily reconstituted in warm water.

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Summer is definitely here this week – today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year, here in Virginia. It just so happens that today is also the day that the movers are delivering all 10k pounds of our household goods, so we’ve set aside pitchers of cold water, lemonade, and iced tea to help everyone get through the day.

Sometimes, a nice long sweaty workday on a hot day feels good – especially when paired with a dip in cold water afterwards. In the same sense, many people like spicy foods on a hot day, and in honor of that sentiment, I’m posting my Green Papaya Salad recipe from Paleo Takeout. From the book:

It’s not often that you would associate a salad with unripe fruit, dried shrimp, or spiciness, but that’s basically what you experience with Green Papaya Salad. The hardest ingredient to find for this dish is the green papaya itself, but if you have a local Asian market nearby, it will likely carry them.

There are a couple adjustments I made for this recipe, to accommodate a Western palate (crushed red peppers instead of scorching bird’s eye chiles), Western supermarkets (fresh green beans instead of yardlong beans), and Paleo-friendly nutrition (macadamia nuts instead of peanuts). If you have access to the original ingredients, and the desire to stay true to the original recipe, go for it!

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Hey everyone, just a quick note to let you know that there won’t be a recipe this week, or next Tuesday either. Our family is in the middle of moving from Pensacola, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia; in fact, today is the day where the movers come and load up all of our boxes. Later this week we’ll start our extended drive through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina before settling into our new home in Virginia late next week. Along the way, we’ll stop and visit our friend Sarah (aka The Paleo Mom) and her family, and a couple other friends who live near the route we take.

After 17+ years in the Navy, and over a dozen deployments, I’m fairly competent at moving across the country – but it still leaves me with a sense of melancholy each time it happens. When we first moved to Florida in 2014, we were a family of three; upon leaving, we’re a family of four, with Elliott joining us about a year and a half ago (the picture above is the photo I took with the boys for Father’s Day this past weekend). We’ve made a lot of great friends, and one of the many wonderful things about the age we live in is that they’re only a click/text/Skype away.

From a cooking and writing perspective, I’ve hit a few milestones over these past few years – I wrote my second cookbook, made the NYT bestseller list, started a third cookbook, and embarked on a book tour that spanned three months and 13 states. I’m excited to see what Virginia has in store for our family.

So I’ll see you folks in a couple weeks, once the hubbub of moving has died down and I can acclimate to my new kitchen. In the meantime, be sure to enjoy the summer weather – and while you’re at it, check out some of my favorite summertime recipes:

Ahi Poke
Gazpacho Cold Vegetable Soup)
Ital Stew
Grilled Romaine Salad
Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Huli-Huli Chicken Wings
Argentenian-style Tri-Tip with Chimichurri
Pad Priew Wan Goong (Thai Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry with Shrimp)

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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Ital stew is a Jamaican dish aligned with the Rastafarian movement. The word “ital” is derived from the word vital, and is similar to the concept of kosher. Specifically, ital food should be vegetarian, unprocessed, and from the earth. Some believe that even iodized salt should be avoided, and only pure sea salt is acceptable. Since meat is considered dead, it is not ital, although some Rastafari are known to eat small fish.

Like in my Callaloo recipe from earlier this year, there is a lot of variation to this dish. Typically, it’s made with several different kinds of starchy foods (I used squash, taro, potatoes, and plantain) in a coconut milk broth. You don’t never every single starch to make a flavorful stew – just use what you have available to you. It’s lightly spiced, with just thyme and pimento (allspice).

Funny enough, when doing my research I discovered this dish isn’t considered an exceptionally tasty stew, to the point that I was almost turned away from trying it. I have a suspicion that the reason it’s not well-received is because every recipe I found had you adding all of the vegetables at once, which likely resulted in a mushy, jumbled, and slightly confusing stew. I tried a different tactic, and added the dishes in increments so that they all were perfectly cooked at the end of the recipe. This extra care made a huge difference in the final product; in fact, we’re adding this dish to our regular rotation because it’s easy, quick, and hearty – a perfect summer soup when you’re not in the mood for a meat dish.

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My friends at US Wellness Meats recently sent me a cut of beef I’d never seen before. The heart of shoulder roast, sometimes called the heart of clod or cross-rib roast, is a center cut roast taken from the shoulder, similar to chuck roast. Typically I would oven-braise a shoulder roast in order to break down its connective tissue. But heating an oven for several hours doesn’t sound like a good time to me right now considering that we’re in the heat of summer; so I did what any sensible American would do with a big chunk of meat in July – I barbecued it.

This recipe is not unlike the Barbecue Brisket recipe in my book, just cooked at a slightly lower temperature; the lower temperature drags the cooking process out a bit, but results in a more evenly tender roast. Feel free to use this recipe for brisket as well.

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Some eagle-eyed readers may recall that in my Memphis-style barbecue beef back ribs recipe from earlier this year, I only used half of the huge 16 lb. package of beef back ribs that US Wellness Meats sent me. I had been eyeballing the remaining two racks of ribs for a while and I decided to take a different approach to the ribs this time; the Memphis-style recipe was a lot of fun, but it also took a lot of work (and some specialized equipment) to get that perfect taste. This time around, I wanted to make something that was ridiculously easy and still produced some high-quality, juicy, and tender beef ribs.

So I turned to my dear old gas grill, and let the magic of indirect heat run its course.

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