Nom Nom Paleo

Giving Thanks

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’Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…except for me, because I had to don my trusty hospital scrubs and start another week of graveyard shifts.

Giving Thanks by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But don’t feel badly for me. I have so much to be thankful for, including:

Giving Thanks by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

  • Date nights! This week, Henry and I took a much-needed breather over dinner at Ad Hoc in Yountville. There, we tucked into a platter of Ad Hoc’s famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken for the first time in several years (!). Unlike our pre-Paleo forays to Ad Hoc, we ordered  the gluten-free version this time. No, it’s not Paleo, but I’m happy to report that the crispy, tender chicken was just as mind-blowingly delicious as before.

Even better: our new friend Ruben at Ad Hoc decided that a copy of our book had to be displayed above the bar.

Giving Thanks by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After a few of the staffers spotted it and flipped through it, one came over to ask me: “So what exactly is Paleo?”

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Forky Friday: Nomtastic Thanksgiving Roundup!

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Forky Friday: Thanksgiving Smorgasbord by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Today’s Forky Friday is all about getting you ready for Turkey Day!

Yes, I know Thanksgiving’s still days away, but it’s not too early to get crackin’—especially if your frozen turkey still needs to be thawed. Besides, the weekend’s the perfect time to get a head start on the ginormous feast you’ll be devouring come Thursday. Ideally, you can prep most of your sides beforehand so you can focus on the turkey on Thanksgiving.

Forky Friday: Thanksgiving Smorgasbord by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Me? I’ll be reporting to work at the hospital on Thursday night, so I’ll miss the holiday fun—but you can still enjoy the nomtastic Turkey Day menu I put together for you!

To recap, here are the festive autumn dishes you should prepare (or strong-arm your friends and family into making for you):

Butterflied Big Bird (Spatchcocked Thanksgiving Turkey)

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing

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Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

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Roasted Garlic Autumn Mash

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Umami Gravy

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Paleo Pumpkin, Coconut, & Maple Custard Cups

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But that’s not all! If you head over to my Recipe Index, you’ll find LOADS of other free recipes that are perfect for your Paleo Thanksgiving. Here are just some of ’em:

Brussels Sprouts Chips

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Garlic Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

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Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots

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Roasted Broccoli With Crispy Prosciutto & Balsamic Vinegar

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Bacon

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Umami Gravy

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Okay, gang: Thanksgiving’s just one week away, so here’s Part 5 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series! Just tuning in? I’ve already got you covered for turkeyBrussels sprouts, cran-cherry sauce, and mash—and today, I present to you: a flavor-packed, make-ahead Umami Gravy! 

Umami Gravy by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Yep, this is a rich, thick gravy that you can pour on EVERYTHING. I love my Easy Paleo Herb Gravy and my Slow Cooker Roast Chicken & Gravy, but this recipe’s the one you break out for company. 

Traditionalists may scoff because there are no turkey pan drippings in this gravy, but by using bone broth or rich chicken stock, you can minimize your game-time kitchen chaos by making this gravy a couple of days before Thanksgiving. You simply reheat it just before you go into Feast Mode. (I don’t know about you, but this lady hates frantically cooking against the clock.) 

Plus, this gravy is packed with carefully selected ingredients that boost umami: savory bone broth, tomato paste, dried and fresh mushrooms, and fish sauce. Once all these flavorful ingredients have simmered, simply purée everything together and voila! Thick gravy! 

Umami Gravy by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Umami Gravy keeps in the fridge for several days, and is a great item to keep in the freezer for everyday meals. Just cook up your favorite quick-cooking protein and simmer it in this fantastic gravy. 

Ready for the recipe?

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Roasted Garlic Autumn Mash

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It’s Part 4 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series! (If you’re just tuning in, go check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3!)

Roasted Garlic Autumn Mash by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be complete without a generous serving of mashed root vegetables. And while mashed potatoes will always have a special place in my heart, I’ve come to prefer this Autumn Mash as a comforting, colorful alternative because: (A) it tastes better, and (B) it’s so much prettier. (After all, we eat with our eyes first, right?)

Longtime readers of my blog might recognize this recipe as an adaptation of an old favorite—but the secret ingredient in this new version is buttery, mellow roasted garlic, which adds warmth and richness to this mildly sweet vegetable side. Best of all, this dish doesn’t just taste fab, it also keeps fantastically. Make a batch a couple of days ahead of time, and reheat it when you’re ready to feast. Minimizing the muss ‘n fuss (or is it fuss ‘n muss?) on Turkey Day is always a good thing.

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Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

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It’s Part 3 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series! (Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you’ve just joined the cooking party!)

Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Sweet and sour is one of my favorite flavor combinations. It perfectly describes my personality. And although I never tried cranberry sauce until I began attending the annual Thanksgiving potluck at my in-laws’, I fell hard for it right away. It didn’t matter if I got a dry piece of turkey breast; a dollop of tangy cranberry sauce would make it all better. But sadly, once I started eating Paleo, I had to skip the cranberry sauce altogether. After all, I knew that most recipes are sweetened with LOADS of white sugar.

But this year, I was determined to come up with a Paleo-friendly version of cranberry sauce—one inspired by the cranberry-cherry-apple juice blends from my childhood. By themselves, cranberries can be unpalatably bitter and sour. But by adding an equal amount of cherries and simmering the fruit in apple juice, I was able to counter the mouth-puckering tartness of the cranberries with some natural sweetness. Prefer a sweeter sauce? Just a touch of honey will do the trick. And if you make this Cran-Cherry Sauce a day ahead and allow the flavors to meld further, it tastes even better.

Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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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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Butterflied Big Bird (Spatchcocked Turkey)

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It’s Part 1 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series!

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

No, I said BUTTERFLIED—not BUTTERFRIED. Sorry to disappoint, butter lovers! And for you strict Paleo peeps, a note of warning: there’s butter in this recipe, though ghee is a fantastic substitute. (If you’re zero-tolerance when it comes to all forms of dairy, substitute duck fat or schmaltz.)

With this post, I’m starting a series of Thanksgiving-related recipe posts, and I figured I’d tackle the hardest one first. Every November, the prospect of roasting a whole turkey strikes fear into the hearts of even experienced cooks. The entire process—from picking a bird to carving it—can be daunting. No one wants to serve a dry, powdery turkey to their gathered friends and family…especially if you’ve got an in-law who’s just waiting to pounce on a kitchen blunder. But never fear: even if Olivia Soprano is your mother-in-law, this foolproof method will keep you in her good graces.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Step One: Pick a Bird

This article by Serious Eats covers everything you need to know about selecting a turkey. (In fact, it covers all things turkey.)

By the way, I learned a valuable lesson this year: Don’t get greedy. The first turkey I roasted to test this recipe was waaaaay too big. The gigantic 18-pounder(!) that I bought from Tendergrass Farms was delicious and came out beautifully (It’s the one I photographed for this post!), but it barely fit in my oven. My second bird (which I didn’t photograph) was a much more manageable 12-pounder that actually fit on my roasting tray.

Step Two: Gear Up

For my recipe, you’ll want to make sure you have a sharp, sturdy pair of poultry shears (to tear through thin bones and cartilage like a skilled orthopedic surgeon). You’ll also need an oven-proof wire rack and a baking sheet or large broiling pan.

Lastly, you’ll need an accurate meat thermometer to ensure perfectly cooked meat. If you don’t want to keep having to open the oven to check your turkey, your best bet is to get an in-oven thermometer.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Seriously: a meat thermometer is not negotiable. It’s the only way to make sure you don’t overcook your big, pricey turkey and disappoint your guests. 

Step Three: Mark Your Calendars

If you don’t want to eat turkey-flavored popsicles on Thanksgiving, you have to start thawing your bird in the fridge beginning on the Friday or Saturday before Turkey Day. It’ll take 3 or 4 days to fully defrost, and then you’ll want  to dry-brine the bird and let it sit for 1 or 2 more days in the fridge before roasting.

On Thanksgiving Day, make sure you allow for at least 30 minutes of resting time before you carve up the bird. So if you want the bird on the table by early afternoon, you need to pop it in the oven in the morning.

Step Four: Cook!

My Butterflied Big Bird recipe combines Judy Rodgers’ dry-brining techniques with J. Kenji López-Alt’s Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey and my own simple herb butter.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The turkey is spatchcocked and dry-brined with kosher salt, and then left to sit loosely-covered in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Underneath the crispy skin, the tender meat is flavored with an herb-infused butter (or ghee, if you prefer).

Ready?

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Paleo Turkey Day Menu Ideas

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Turkey Day is only a few days away…

Roast Turkey

(Image by SliceOfChic, shared via Flickr.)

Does everyone have their Thanksgiving plans all set? Anybody stuck hosting a house full of people you despise? Sucks to be you. 

We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving at my in-laws’ yearly potluck. I haven’t finalized what I’m bringing but I think I’ll make endive spears stuffed with crab salad and garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes.

On Black Friday, we’re hosting a small party with friends and I’ll serve a Paleo-style Turducken Junior along with Paleo-friendly sides and chicharrones.  

I thank my lucky stars that I won’t be slaving in the kitchen this year. If I was, I’d peruse these recipes:

Want even more Paleo-friendly Thanksgiving menu ideas?

Check out the rest of my recipe indexEveryday Paleo, The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate, Whole9Jen’s Gone Paleo, The Clothes Make The Girl, Elana’s PantryHealth-BentPaleo Parents, Balanced Bites, and Paleo Periodical. I know I’m missing a ton of fine folks —  please give them a shout-out in the comments section!

Paleo Eats: 11/20/11

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Yay! I’m more than halfway through my workweek!

During my graveyard shift, I chowed on two boxes of leftovers: one with a slice of frittata, and the other with roast chicken, cauliflower & carrot puree, and stir-fried pork and spigarello.

While I slept the afternoon away, Fitbomb made himself some bacon-wrapped pineapples chunks.

I sampled a couple when I woke up and each bite was a wonderful mix of contrasts — sweet and savory plus crunchy and juicy. My hubby makes the best bacon-y snacks while I’m sleeping.

For dinner, I made cheater crispy sous vide duck confit legs

…and roasted butternut squash seasoned with Madras curry.

I made a simple salad with mâche, cucumbers, and roasted squash and dressed it with aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Here’s my dinner plate:

After I exercised in the garage, I poured steaming bone broth into a thermos, packed my meals, chugged an espresso, and headed to work.

Only three more nights to go!