Nom Nom Paleo

Smashed Steak Skewers with Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Inspired by The Croods)

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I’ve always been a film buff. Aside from the obituaries, my favorite part of the local paper was the movie section; starting in elementary school, I’d pore over the weekend reviews to decide which flicks were worth dragging my family to see. Ever the weirdo, I vetoed my older sister’s request to see Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal and cajoled my parents into taking us to see Tootsie instead. Sure, in December of 1982, the cross-dressing jokes flew right over my eight-year-old head, but who cares? The movie got two thumbs up from Siskel & Ebert, people.

Ironically, I watch fewer grown-up flicks now than I did when I was in second grade. These days, when Henry and I venture to the cineplex, it’s usually with the boys in tow, so we stick to family-friendly fare. And recently, as we settled into our seats to watch another kiddie flick, this trailer caught my eye:

Yowza — an animated film about a prehistoric cave-dwelling clan! “Think they eat Paleo?” I whispered excitedly. The Double-Os nodded. “I think they do CrossFit, too,” my five-year-old solemnly added.

I made a mental note: We were going to catch The Croods as soon as it hit theaters.


So when I was contacted by the movie studio a few weeks ago and asked to develop a recipe inspired by The Croods, it wasn’t hard for me to say yes. DreamWorks Animation requested something family-friendly, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work creating a dish that’s simple, tasty, Paleo, and kid-approved: Smashed Steak Skewers with Cherry Barbecue Sauce.


Speared hunks of beef, flattened with a heavy object and grilled over an open fire. Sounds like caveman family fare to me, don’t you think?

Trust me: If Lil-O — the pickiest eater in our house — liked ‘em, your kids’ll gobble them up, too!


Wanna see the simple step-by-step instructions? They’re so easy even a caveman could do it!

Here’s what to hunt and gather to make 16 skewers:

For the Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Makes 1⅔ cup of sauce):

  • 2 teaspoons ghee or fat of choice
  • ½ cup minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) ginger root, peeled and finely grated (I use a Microplane)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos (or wheat-free tamari)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 10 ounces frozen cherries, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Smashed Steak Skewers:

  • 1½-pound flank steak
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee
  • ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
Here’s the step-by-step instructions:

The cherry barbecue sauce is a cinch to make and can be prepared ahead of time.

First, melt the ghee over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent (around 5 minutes).


Stir in the garlic, ginger and tomato paste…


…and sauté for 30 second until fragrant.


Add the coconut aminos, vinegar, juice…


…and cherries…


…and bring to a boil.


Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cherry mixture is thickened.


While the sauce is simmering, stir occasionally and smush the cherries against the side of the pot.


Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl or measuring cup and set aside.

A half hour before you want to grill your skewers, soak 16 bamboo skewers in water.

Grab your slab of flank steak and cut it into 16 pieces.


First, cut the steak in half lengthwise (along the grain).

Next, slice the steak in half across the grain, then in fourths…


…and finally in eighths.


Carefully stab each slice of meat through the center with a soaked skewer.



Now comes the fun part: Grab a hefty meat pounder or small cast iron skillet, and smash each steak skewer until it’s about ½ inch thick.





I’m sure The Croods would’ve used sticks and stones, but I prefer to keep my kitchen rock-free.


Season the beef with salt and pepper…


…and brush both sides with melted ghee.


Fire up your backyard grill, and cook over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.



Let the meat skewers rest for 5 to 10 minutes…


…before brushing on the cherry barbecue sauce.



A garnish of fresh green scallions is optional, but it can instantly transform this rugged plate of skewers into a more refined dish.


Serve immediately and watch your kiddos tear into them with sharp little incisors!



Don’t forget to check out The Croods when it comes out on March 22nd!


Full disclosure: As I mentioned above, this is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).

Dave Wendel’s Flank Steak Roulade

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Dave Wendel to Nom Nom Paleo as a guest blogger. Unlike yours truly, Dave’s a classically trained chef who earned his chops at what Paul Bocuse called “the best culinary school in the world,” so you know he’s got the goods.

Dave has graciously agreed to share his flank steak roulade recipe (and step-by-step photos!) with us, and trust me — this meal is a guaranteed home run. Take it away, Dave!

I was fortunate enough to meet Michelle and Henry at AHS12. We quickly bonded over our common love for delicious food. When Michelle asked me to do a guest post for her blog, I was excited to create a main course that looks impressive, yet doesn’t keep you in the kitchen for hours. I came up with the idea of doing a roulade.

One nice feature of a roulade is that it can be made several days prior to your event and then cooked just before serving. Additionally, you can experiment with the stuffing, changing it by adding or subtracting ingredients. A roulade tastes great and your guests will be impressed by the visual appeal of the pinwheel on their plate.


Here’s what to gather to feed 4-6 people:

  • ½ pound baby spinach
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ pounds flank steak
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 small green zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

Here’s what to do:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Heat large saute pan over high heat until very hot.

3. Add spinach and water to the pan and cover. 

4. Allow the spinach to steam undisturbed until wilted (about 2 minutes).  Uncover and allow spinach to cool.

5. Drain and press spinach to get all the water out.

6. Butterfly the flank steak with the fibers running parallel to your stabilizing hand, being careful not to slice it into two pieces.

7. Season inside of flank steak with salt and pepper to taste (approximately ¼ teaspoon of each).

8. Heat a separate saute pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes.

9. Toss in peppers and zucchini, cooking for 3-4 more minutes.

10. Next, sprinkle on chili powder, garlic, and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender and remove from heat to cool.

11. Spread cooled bacon and vegetable mixture evenly over the seasoned flank steak.

11. Cover vegetable mixture with the steamed spinach. This will help keep the vegetables in place.

12. Roll the flank steak.

 13. Tie with butcher twine, and season the outside of the roulade with salt and pepper (approximately ¼ teaspoon each).

(If you are serving the roulade later (up to 3 days), place it in the fridge at this step. When you are ready to serve it, remove it from the fridge for about an hour to bring to room temperature. Then, follow the rest of the instructions.)

14. Heat large saute pan over high heat. Add ghee or coconut oil until it starts to smoke. Sear all of the sides of the roulade until golden brown.

15. Place roulade in oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare (approximately 18-20 minutes). Let the roulade rest for 20 minutes after removing from the oven and the residual heat will raise the temperature of the meat to 125-130°F.

16. Slice and remove twine before serving.

Dave Wendel is a 1999 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He has worked in the food service industry for 20 years, and currently works as a buyer for a gourmet foods company. Dave became interested in Paleo as part of the comprehensive plan to manage his Type 1 Diabetes. In his free time, Dave relaxes with his wife, Ann Wendel, the owner of Prana Physical Therapy. You can connect with Dave here

Oven-Braised Mexican Beef

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Who’s looking for a simple recipe for fork-tender Mexican braised beef that you can make ahead for Cinco de Mayo? Did I mention that you can assemble it from pantry staples plus it’s Whole30-compliant to boot?
Ingredients (Serves 4-6):
  • 2½ pounds boneless beef short ribs, beef brisket, or beef stew meat cut into 1½-inch cubes (my favorite cut is boneless short ribs)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I use Penzeys Arizona Dreaming)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or fat of choice
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ cup roasted salsa (I use Trader Joe’s Double Roasted salsa)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • ½ cup minced cilantro (optional)
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced (optional)
Here’s what to do:

Preheat oven to 300°F with the rack located in the lower middle.

In a large bowl, combine cubed beef, chili powder, and salt.


Toss well.


Melt fat over medium heat in a large, oven-proof dutch oven.

Add onions…


…and sauté until transluscent.

Stir in tomato paste and fry for 30 seconds…



…before tossing in garlic…


…and seasoned beef.

Next, pour in salsa…


…stock, and fish sauce and bring to a boil.



Cover pot and place in oven for 3 hours or until beef is tender.


Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. (At this point, you can store the beef in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheat right before serving.)

Spoon the beef onto a serving platter…


…and top with cilantro and radishes if you’ve got ‘em.


Assemble your own tacos with lettuce leaves, guacamole, diced onions, and cilantro.

¡Buen apetito!

Pressure Cooker Grass Fed Beef Back Ribs

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Grass fed beef back ribs are normally cooked low and slow for many hours to break down the collagen in the tough meat. What if I told you you could get the same results in less than an hour in a pressure cooker? Seriously. Don’t be afraid of your pot exploding. If you get a good pressure cooker AND follow directions, you’ll save time and energy PLUS get kickass results. If you don’t…it was nice knowing you.

Ingredients (Serves 2):

I love Chili 9000 on all sorts of stuff, but it’s my go-to dry rub for ribs.

Grab a rack of grass fed beef back ribs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, sprinkle it liberally on both sides with the dry rub and kosher salt. 

Wrap it up in foil to marinate for at least two hours and up to a day.

When you’re ready to cook the ribs, preheat the broiler with the rack positioned 4-6 inches from the heating element. 

Grab the rack from the fridge and cut it so it’ll fit in your pressure cooker. If you’ve got a 6-quart pot, cut the rack into three even pieces. Put the ribs on a wire rack in a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. 

Broil the ribs for 1-2 minutes on each side to get a nice char. Keep the broiler on because you’ll be broiling these meaty bones again at the end.

Add the water, applesauce, coconut aminos, and fish sauce to the pressure cooker. Stir to combine and add a rack to the pot.

Pile the ribs into the pressure cooker and lock on the lid. 

Crank the heat to high and when the pot reaches high pressure, turn down the heat to maintain high pressure on the lowest setting possible. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes and let the pressure come down naturally or release it quickly.

Remove the ribs and place them back on a wire rack atop a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

Simmer the cooking liquid until it is reduced to 2 cups (~5 minutes). Skim off the excess fat at the top if desired and adjust seasoning.

Baste the racks with the braising liquid…

…and broil them for about a minute to get some crunchy bits.

With a minimal investment in time, you’ve got some finger-lickin’ tender ribs. Try it!

Paleo Comfort Foods’ Farmer’s Pie

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The climate here in Northern California has suddenly turned arctic. Alright, the highs are still in the 70s and 80s, but I’ve started craving satisfying grub that warms me from the inside out. The other day, I grabbed Julie and Charles's aptly titled cookbook,  Paleo Comfort Foods, and found a recipe for Farmer’s Pie that perfectly fit the bill!

Farmer’s Pie is an adaptation of cottage pie, a rich ground beef stew topped with fluffy mashed spuds. This Paleo-friendly casserole is topped with mashed cauliflower and it’s gluten-free to boot!

Since I’m working graveyard shift this week, I divided the cooking process into three parts that I spread out over two days. Each cooking session lasted less than 20 minutes of hands-on time, which is just the right amount for my lazy ass. When I served it for dinner tonight, I was able to savor it ‘cause I wasn’t exhausted and frazzled from slaving away in the kitchen.

Wanna see how I tackled this recipe? Follow the jump!

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