Nom Nom Paleo

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew

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[UPDATED October 10, 2012: This ain’t a new recipe (it’s from over a year ago), but it continues to be popular and the old photos were all kinds of horrible, so I updated this post with new pics. Enjoy (again!)]

Here’s a quick and satisfying stew that I throw together when I’m uber lazy and tired. In other words, this is a dish I cook on a typical day in the life of Nom Nom Paleo. I don’t brown anything and all the ingredients are dumped into the slow cooker to simmer on low for 8-10 hours. Poof! Dinner is ready in less than 10  minutes of prep time!

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Important caveat: Try to use the best ingredients you can find because when you’re just chucking stuff into the slow cooker, you’ll end up with crap if you start with bad ingredients.

Here’s what I toss into the slow cooker to feed 4-6 people:

  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced 
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ½ pound baby carrots
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into 1.5 inch cubes or a 4 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 tablespoon Sunny Paris seasoning (or your favorite seasoning blend)
  • 1 tablespoon Red Boat Fish sauce
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 cup Rao’s marinara sauce (or any other Paleo-friendly marinara sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Here’s how you make it:

Slice up the onions and smash the garlic cloves…

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…and add them with the carrots to the slow cooker liner. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

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Grab some high quality pork…

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…cube it (if you’re so inclined)…

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…and toss with Sunny Paris seasoning and fish sauce.

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(No Sunny Paris? No problem. Just use an herb blend you like.)

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Add another sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine.

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Pile the seasoned pork on top of the onions and carrots…

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…and tuck the cabbage wedges on top.

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Drizzle on the marinara sauce and some more salt and pepper.

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Put on the lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

When the pork and veggies are fork-tender, adjust the stew for seasoning with  balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

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If you’re feeling fancy, top the stew with fresh Italian parsley.

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I love it when meals cook themselves!

Braised Chicken Legs with Artichokes and Pearl Onions

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I was in the mood to experiment tonight. By early evening, I was exhausted, so rather than planning an elaborate meal, I raided the kitchen and threw together a bunch of stuff I had in my freezer, fridge, and pantry to see if, perchance, an easy and yummy one-pot dish might materialize.

I’m happy to report that an investment of just 15 minutes of hands-on time yielded a savory dish that an entire family can happily scarf down. Well, 3 out of 4 members of the Nom Nom Paleo household enjoyed it. Our three-year-old, Lil-O, is always the sole holdout. “I want eggs,” he says. Every. Single. Night.

Where was I? Right: Ingredients.

I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s and I always read the chain’s wackily illustrated Fearless Flyer so I can strategically plan my next shopping excursion. Some of TJ’s new items are misses, but most are hits. I recently found two things in the freezer section that piqued my interest: frozen artichoke hearts…

…and peeled and prepared pearl onions.

Despite being an anti-processing Paleo freak, I love prepped frozen veggies ‘cause they help accelerate the time my dinner gets to the table. On the one hand, they’re a little pricier, but on the other hand, I can get away with doing less work. And Nom Nom Paleo is all about the lazy.

Here’s what I scrounged up:

  • 2 whole Kosher chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs (you can definitely double the amount of chicken)
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sigona’s Green Poultry Seasoning (contains thyme, sage, pepper, coriander, marjoram, & parsley)
  • 12 oz bag of Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke hearts
  • 16 oz bag of Trader Joe’s frozen peeled & ready to use pearl onions
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and trimmed
  • 3/4 cup organic chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp Banyuls vinegar

Here’s what I did:

I preheated the oven to 325 F and I assembled all my ingredients.

I didn’t bother defrosting the artichoke hearts or pearl onions because I knew they’d quickly cook in my skillet. (Skeptical? Fine: The real reason I didn’t defrost them is that I was too lazy to add another cooking step. Happy now?)

My favorite chicken cuts for braising are bone-in, skin-on thighs. At my local TJ’s, they carry whole Kosher chicken legs so I just cut them into thighs and drumsticks (cut through the cartilage and not the bone or you’ll eff-up your knife). I seasoned my chicken with green poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Next, I heated 2 tablespoons of avocado oil over medium high heat in a 12-inch, oven-safe, lidded skillet and I seared my chicken parts until they were browned on each side.

After removing the browned chicken to a plate, I threw the frozen pearl onions into the empty skillet and seasoned it with some salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Once the onions were caramelized, I tossed in the frozen artichoke hearts and the garlic cloves (along with more salt and pepper). I sauteed all the vegetables until they were nice and toasty. Then, I nestled in the chicken parts and poured in the chicken broth and vinegar. After bringing it up to a simmer…

…I put on the lid and popped it in the oven for 45 minutes. The results were pretty tasty for the minimum amount of effort I put in.

The artichoke hearts are a wee bit acidic so you can back off on the vinegar or use a sweeter vinegar like balsamic. Also, the amount of chicken legs can definitely be doubled because I had a bunch of leftover chokes and onions that I’ll be pairing up with other proteins in the next few days. 

Sous Vide Pork Chops and Veggies for Dinner

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Because of my crazy work schedule, I’m pretty zonked when I wake up in the evenings to make dinner for everyone. Especially when I’ve already worked five night shifts in a row and have two more to go. I can turn into a hulk, just like that. Try me.  

On Saturday night before going to work, I sous vided some pork chops and then stored them in the fridge until I cooked them off today. 

I’m totally in love with my SousVide Supreme.

While the chops came back up to serving temperature in the water bath, I baked some sweet potatoes in my toaster oven, roasted orange hued cauliflower and bacon

..and stir-fried shiitake and broccoli slaw.

Here’s my plate:

I’m tired of cooking.  Thankfully, Fitbomb will be bringing home take-out kebabs tomorrow night and we’re going out the following night.

Sous Vide Mustard and Herb Seasoned Butterflied Lamb Leg

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Remember how I sous vided a butterflied lamb leg and tri-tip roast earlier this week?  Well, I finished cooking off the lamb tonight and it was fantastic!

Here’s a recap of how easy it was:

Purchase this pre-seasoned lamb leg at Costco while they last:

Re-vacuum seal in your own bag and without the absorbent paper:

Plop in your SousVide Supreme set at 130 F for 24 hours:

Remove the cooked meat from SousVide Supreme and plunge in an ice water bath for 1 hour and store in fridge or freezer until needed.  If reheating from fridge, set SousVide Supreme to 130F and drop in packet for 30 minutes. 

Then, remove the packet from the bath and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat up 2 tablespoon of lard in a cast iron skillet on high.  Sear the leg, fat side down when fat is smoking.  Leave undisturbed for 2 minutes.  Flip over and sear on the other side for 2 minutes.

Slice up and dig in!

Really delicious!  In the past, when I’ve roasted boneless leg of lamb the conventional way, parts of it would be too rare and other parts would be too well-done. This piece of meat was pink throughout and really tender and juicy.  Plus, it was seasoned really well.  I’d definitely plunk down $20 plus change for this pre-seasoned, ready-to-cook piece of lamb.  There’s definitely enough meat for 6 hearty eaters.  Next to pork chops, this was the best thing I’ve made in my SousVide Supreme thus far. 

I served the sliced lamb leg with garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, and sautéed spinach. Nom. nom. nom.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

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Tonight, I start my week of graveyard shifts again. Harrumph. On days when I switch back to being nocturnal, I sleep my regular 8 hours the night before, get up and run errands during the day, and then take a 2-3 hour nap in the late afternoon before getting up to make dinner. 

Since I had a big-ass bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves in the fridge, I decided to make Ina Garten’s recipe for chicken with forty cloves of garlic for dinner (well, technically, it’s breakfast for me).  The only modifications I made: Using pre-peeled garlic (why wouldn’t you?) and leaving out the flour that Garten uses as a sauce-thickening agent. I don’t think Cognac is Paleo but I used it anyway.

Assemble:

  • 40 cloves of pre-peeled garlic
  • 2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths (I used 6 thighs and 6 drumsticks)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (it’s easier than plucking and chopping the leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, sauté the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium.

When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to sauté all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Plop the chicken on a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Here’s what I assembled (yes, that’s a bottle of Two Buck Chuck):

The chicken browning in the Dutch oven:

All the legs and thighs piled up post-browning:

Browning the cloves of garlic in the rendered fat:

Simmering the cloves in wine and Cognac:

Simmering the sauce after the chicken has been removed:

Finished!

Next up: Some easy side dishes.

Baked sweet potatoes from my toaster oven:

and nuked organic green beans:

My dinner/breakfast plate:

Easy Sous Vide Wild Alaskan Cod

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Here’s an experiment I performed tonight for dinner, all done in the interests of science laziness:

The question: Would dinner be palatable if all I did was grab two frozen wild Alaskan cod fillets straight out of the freezer and plop them in my SousVide Supreme (preheated to 130 F) for 30 minutes…

…dry them off…

…season them with freshly ground pepper and Aleppo chile finishing salt…

…and sear them — a minute per side — in some coconut oil in my super hot cast iron skillet?

The answer: Yep!

To accompany my fish, I sautéed some pre-washed, packaged organic baby spinach with some minced pre-peeled garlic cloves in my unwashed cast iron skillet.  Then, I topped the fillets with Primavera salsa and a dollop of Wholly Guacamole. It was super-easy: Perfect for a slacker cook, and tasty to boot.

I’m sure if I defrosted and seasoned the fillets before vacuum-sealing them, they would’ve tasted even better, but this experiment was to determine the bare minimum I could get away with to make edible fish with the least amount of work. I have to admit that cod isn’t my favorite fish, but until Costco starts stocking IQF vacuum-sealed Alaskan king salmon, I’ll happily sous vide cod and sockeye salmon straight from the bag.

Asian Ground Beef, Mushroom, and Broccoli Slaw Lettuce Cups

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I get 5 pounds of ground meat in my meat CSA pack every month so I always need to come up with inventive ways to dispatch with it so I don’t get bored.  Tonight, on a whim, I decided to make Asian flavored lettuce cups.  My recipe is pretty similar to the pork stir fry I made a week ago.

Assemble these ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground meat (I used grass fed ground beef)
  • 1 lb of thinly sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 cups of broccoli slaw (I use the organic slaw from Trader Joe’s)
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots (I use the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • a handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut aminos
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what I did with everything:

The first step was finely chopping my onion in my mini prep food processor.  Whenever I make grass fed ground beef, I like to really pulverize the onions.  This helps moisten the meat and it cooks so much faster.

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Then, I put the onions into my skillet with some melted lard and sautéed on medium heat until translucent.  Then, I added the sliced mushrooms and some salt and pepper.  When the onions and mushrooms had cooked off the excess moisture, I added the minced garlic cloves and stirred everything around for 30 seconds. 

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Next, I added the ground beef and stirred that around until there weren’t big clumps and it was no longer pink.   I added the fish sauce, apple cider vinegar, and coconut aminos and then tasted for seasoning.  I put about equal amounts of all three and then I cracked on some freshly ground black pepper.

Once the meat was cooked and seasoned, I added the broccoli slaw and shredded carrots and stirred everything around to soften the veggies a little.   I added the herby goodness (scallions and cilantro) last and mixed to distribute everything.

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I spooned the beef and veggie mixture onto red butter lettuce leaves (my favorite lettuce for this kind of recipe)…

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…and squeezed on some Paleo Sriracha sauce. 

Greens, Eggs, and Ham (Version 2.0)

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Since I had about a cup of leftover sautéed collard greens and ham, I decided to make a scramble with it for lunch this morning.  I was going to be more ambitious and make stuffed egg omelets with it, but I was just too damn lazy.  You guys sensing a trend here?

For the scramble, I beat together 5 eggs and some Kosher salt and pepper and poured them into my cast iron skillet with melted butter.  Then, I added the filling (which I had nuked in the microwave earlier) and scrambled everything around on medium high heat until it was cooked through.

Fitbomb and I were really famished so I also heated up some sweet basil and parmesan chicken meatballs in my dependable toaster oven.

Our lunch was on the table in about 10 minutes: