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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spiced Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes

Part two of the I Heart Gordon Ramsay series.

I'm a little bit of a BBQ sauce junkie, and I never eat a pork chop without it. These, however, didn't need anything else. The sweet potato mash was the perfect complement to the pork chop.

And as an aside on prep: if you don't have a mortar and pestle? Get one (I found one for like $13 at Bed Bath and Beyond). Because for some reason, crushing whole spices is crazy fun, and it smells amazing. Words cannot describe.

Spiced Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes
(Serves 2)

Pork Chops:

-2 boneless pork chops

-1 tsp coriander seeds

-1 star anise

-1/2 tsp chili powder

-1/2 tsp paprika

-1 clove garlic, crushed

-A few sprigs of fresh thyme

-A few grinds each of sea salt and pepper

-1 generous tbsp olive oil

Sweet Potatoes

-1 large sweet potato

-2-3 cups chicken broth

-1 shallot, finely chopped

-1 clove garlic, crushed

-Coconut oil

-Salt to taste

-1-2 tsp fresh sage

-1-2 tsp fresh cilantro

Crush the coriander and star anise, and add to a small bowl. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Pour marinade onto a plate, and add pork chops. Flip once to get the marinade covering all surfaces. Put into the fridge.

Peel and dice sweet potato. Put chicken broth into a pot over high heat. When broth is boiling, add sweet potato, and boil around 8 minutes, until they are softening (they shouldn't be fully cooked yet). Remove from heat, drain, run under cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove pork chops from the fridge. Place a pan over medium/medium-high heat, and get it nice and hot. Add a little bit of oil to the pan, and then add pork chops. Cook on each side for about 45 secs - 1 min, and occasionally tip onto the edges to ensure that you get color on all sides. Then, put the pan into the oven, and bake for about 8 minutes, until meat is just firm when pressed lightly. Set aside to rest.

In a second pan, heat oil over medium heat, and add shallots and garlic. Saute until shallots begin to caramelize. Add sweet potatoes, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Then, with a fork (or if you're fancy and own a potato masher, use that--I do not), begin mashing the sweet potatoes in the pan. When thoroughly mashed and soft, remove from heat, add the sage and cilantro, and a bit of sea salt to taste, and mix thoroughly.

Plate it up and serve it up. These won't disappoint.


Asian Summer Salad

Does anybody else go through hardcore Gordon Ramsay phases? I've always been a huge fan of his approach to food, which is all about short ingredient lists and fresh flavors. Also, a remarkable proportion of his dishes are paleo-friendly.

Anyway, I just remembered why he's awesome, so the next few posts are probably gonna be at least Ramsay inspired, if not all Ramsay. This one is straight from The F Word, and it's a perfect summer salad. It's light, and all the constituents balance each other really nicely.

Asian Summer Salad
(Serves 4-5)

-2 cucumbers, peeled

-2 carrots, peeled

-1 fresh jalapeno

-2-3 tsp toasted sesame oil

-2-3 tsp rice wine vinegar

-1-1.5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

-Sea salt to taste

-Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin slicer, slice cucumbers and carrots lengthwise into thin strips (my cucumber slices were too wide for my aesthetic sensibilities, so I halved the slices lengthwise). Use the peeler/mandolin to cut the jalapeno into thin rings. Put all veggies into a bowl, and add oil, vinegar, cilantro, and grind sea salt over top. Gently mix together all ingredients with your hands, and plate.

I just had this with some leftover brats (classy), but I think it would go really nicely with baked chicken or pork chops.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mediterranean Crab and Veggie "Spaghetti"

Mmm. All of these flavors just work brilliantly together. Tangy, savory, with a little bit of a kick from the chili pepper. Great way to enjoy spaghetti squash.

Mediterranean Crab and Veggie "Spaghetti"

(Serves 2)

-2 cups cooked spaghetti squash (if you haven't cooked it before, I have instructions here)

-1/2 cup chicken broth

-2 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped

-1/2 onion, finely diced

-2 cloves (1 tsp) garlic, crushed

-1/2 cup green olives, halved

-1 cup quartered artichoke hearts, halved

-1 Roma tomato, diced

-1 or 2 dried chili peppers, finely chopped

-1/2 tsp oregano

-1/2 tsp basil

-1 6oz can crab meat, drained

-Olive oil and black pepper to garnish

-Prep all your veggies. In a large sauce pan, combine spaghetti squash and chicken broth, and sprinkle with black pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer while you saute your veggies.

In a separate pan, add bacon and cook over medium heat until it begins to get crispy. Add in garlic and onions, and saute until the onions begin to soften. Add olives, artichokes, and seasoning, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes. Finally, add crab, and gently mix through. Remove from heat.

Drain your spaghetti squash, and plate. Top with a nice, heaping scoop of the veggie/crab mixture. Garnish with a few grinds of black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve immediately. Enjoy.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Survivor "Popcorn"

Survivor is a pretty cool show from a paleo perspective. One particularly interesting little skill that contestants picked up in an early season and perpetuated throughout the series is the coconut "popcorn." Presumably, when you dice coconut meat and saute it, it tastes like popcorn. Why save that for a deserted island?

Survivor "Popcorn"

-1 fresh coconut

Drive a nail into one (or more) of the coconut eyes, and drain the water--do with that what you will. Then wrap the emptied coconut in a towel, and bash it with a hammer until it cracks open. Separate the meat from the shell with a sharp chef's knife. Dice the meat into small pieces (quite small--like 1/2" by "1/4"). Over medium heat, saute the coconut meat in a pan until browned. When it nears doneness, the coconut will begin to make popping sounds--much like popcorn.

It is indeed kind of reminiscent of popcorn. It completely tastes delicious. Yay, Survivor!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paleo Public Service Announcement: For the Hippies

To my hippy friends: trade in your whole grains for some tasty meat, or you'll lose the ability to spell "psychic."

Much love.


Oven-Baked Beef Brisket

Summer! It means lots of lovely things, like camping and swimming, but it also means a tighter budget if you're a poor grad student, as we often only get funding during the school year. So, roasts are an ideal meat option: per pound, they're often the cheapest cuts you can find (I landed this grass-fed 6.5 lb brisket for about $30), and they're hella tasty. I threw this together early yesterday, and by dinnertime, it was ready to go and my apartment smelled awesome.

Oven-Baked Beef Brisket

-1 beef brisket (mine was 6.5 lbs), thawed

-2 tbsp salt

-2 tbsp black pepper

-2 tsp cayenne pepper

-2 tsp (4 cloves) crushed garlic

-1 onion, thinly sliced

-1/4 c soy sauce (gluten free--they can be found)

-1/8 c Worcestershire sauce

-1/4 c black coffee (I used a dark, bold roast and brewed it at double strength)

-1/4 c apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 250 F. Mix together salt, black pepper, cayenne and garlic, and rub into roast--use about 3/4 of it on the fatty side of the brisket, and 1/4 on the other side. Set aside. Mix together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black coffee, and vinegar, and pour into a roasting pan. Spread onion slices in the pan. Place the seasoned brisket into the pan fatty side up, and cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 7 to 8 hrs (i.e., between 1 hr and 1 hr 15 min per pound). Slice it up, and enjoy for days to come. I recommend serving it with a healthy ladle of the juices that accumulate in the pan--and maybe some tasty Grok's BBQ sauce.

Yay summer!