Nom Nom Paleo

Feeling Schweddy

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I adore Evan Kleiman’s Good Food show on KCRW, Los Angeles’s public radio station—and not just because it was one of the inspirations behind Saturday Night Live’s classic Delicious Dish sketches. Come on—you remember Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls, right?

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Thanks to my subscription to the Good Food podcast on iTunes, I regularly listen to Evan dig into the very best of food culture. Along with The Splendid Table, Evan’s show represents the very best of food journalism on the radio.

And happily, Henry and I pop up on today’s edition of Good Food to talk with Evan about Paleo! 

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Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops

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Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

With its Creole heritage, smothered pork chops is hearty comfort food at its most straightforward. Just brown some chops and cover ’em with a thick, savory layer of sautéed onions and gravy; you’ll have a satisfying meal in no time. But don’t mistake easy for bland. My flavor-first version of this southern dish will satisfy even the most ornery eater—guaranteed.

The secret to a smashing onion gravy, of course, is the roux—the thickening agent traditionally made from approximately equal amounts of fat to flour. My Paleo roux substitutes arrowroot powder for the flour, and uses bacon drippings as the fat of choice, which adds a wonderful smokiness to the sauce.

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And what goes better with pork chops than apples? Answer: nothing. 

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The sweetness of the fruit and onions strikes the perfect counterbalance to the bacon-y richness of the gravy. An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away—it also takes these pork chops from good to great. 

Bacon Apple Smothered Pork Chops by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Is your stomach growling yet? Then let’s get down to business!

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing

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It’s Part 2 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series! (If you missed Part 1, it’s over here!)

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Growing up in a Chinese-American household, I never had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: no turkey with stuffing, no cranberry sauce, no mashed potatoes with gravy, no sweet potato pie with marshmallows. But don’t cry for me, Argentina: the truth is, I never missed out on anything. After all, every Turkey Day, our family still gathered together at our house, and my mother would whip up a special East-Meets-West feast. We always had a Very Special Fusion Thanksgiving. (The menu changed every year, though my personal favorite involved Chinese sticky-rice-stuffed Cornish hens.)

Today’s recipe takes a page from my mom’s handbook: a traditional Turkey Day vegetable side with Asian flair! *Insert jazz hands here.*

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A tangy orange-ginger dressing gives this warm Brussels sprouts slaw a zesty zing that’ll liven up your Thanksgiving table. Besides, this is a super-easy side dish: it takes just 20 minutes to throw together. You can even shred the sprouts a day in advance, and cook ‘em in your already-hot oven after your turkey is done and resting. And if you have leftovers (and you probably won’t!), this slaw keeps really well, and can be eaten cold, hot, or at any temperature in-between. This just might be my favorite Brussels sprouts recipe—and that’s saying a lot because I love these mini cabbage impostors.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready for the recipe?

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Hank Shaw’s Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!)

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Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

When I was a kid, my favorite dish was Cantonese roast duck. And frankly, I still love this dish.

Every few weeks, my mom would buy a whole roasted duck from Chinatown for a family feast. The heady smell of roasted meat and five spice powder always drew me into the kitchen; there, I’d stealthily pick at the tender duck and crispy amber skin while it was still in its take-out container.

My mom always bought the entire duck—with head and neck still attached—because she wanted to utilize the whole animal. She wouldn’t carve it up until we got home; the meat would go on a platter while the carcass was used to make a flavorful master stock for the rest of the week’s meals.

Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Once, when I asked her why she never had the guy behind the counter at the Chinese market chop up the meat for her, she laughed. Anyone naive enough to do that would inevitably get stiffed a few pieces, she explained. The best pieces.

Right before dinner, my mom would reheat the duck in the oven to re-crisp the skin, and then place it on her gnarled wooden chopping block and hack it into bite-size pieces with her ginormous cleaver. This was my cue: I’d oh-so-casually sidle up next to her and make puppy eyes at her until she handed me a piece of glistening meat to scarf down before dinner.

My love of duck has persisted to this day. But although I’ve prepared it a number of different ways, I never attempted to cook a whole duck until just last week. The reasons? I didn’t have ready access to a top-notch source for whole ducks, and I wasn’t confident that I had a fool-proof recipe. After all, high quality ducks are expensive, and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Hank Shaw's Slow Roasted Duck (& a Giveaway of Duck, Duck, Goose!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But recently, two things changed. I’ve become a regular customer/convert of Good Eggs—a service that delivers fresh food from local farmers and artisans to customers’ doorsteps—and I was delighted to see that they’re selling whole ducks from Early Bird Ranch in Pescadero. And just a few weeks ago, I received an advance review copy of Hank Shaw’s latest cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose.

The stars had aligned. It was time to roast my first whole duck.

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After working 6 graveyard shifts in a row, cooking was the last thing on my mind when I got home from the hospital yesterday morning. Henry’s still in New York City, so I couldn’t count on him to make dinner. And because I’m not exactly a great meal planner, I had no leftovers to repurpose.

So did I give in to the evil Mini-Me perched on my shoulder, egging me on to throw in the towel and JUST ORDER SOME TAKEOUT ALREADY?

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you already know that I managed not to cave.  

Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It helped that my in-laws were here to watch the kids while I was at work. By the time my car screeched into the driveway, they’d already gotten the Double-Os fed, dressed, and packed for school. After accompanying the spawn to their classroom doors, I checked the defrost bowl in my fridge for thawed meat, and found two packs of chicken thighs.  Now, all I needed was a simple way to cook ‘em.

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