Nom Nom Paleo

Fridge Staple: Trader Joe’s Southern Greens Blend

Trader Joe’s ready-to-cook bags of Southern Greens Blend are a handy staple to stock in your fridge. I love me some hearty dark green leafy vegetables, but it can be a pain to remove all the stems and wash and chop the leaves prior to cooking them. And I’m all about shortcuts in the kitchen!

Tonight, I dumped two bags of the ready-to-cook greens into a pot of salted boiling water and let them simmer, covered, for ~5 minutes. Then, I drained and rinsed the greens and squeezed out as much liquid as possible. (Yes, it’s crossed my mind that I’m boiling out all the nutrients, but the fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated insist this is the best way to cook tough greens).

Normally, I’d throw in some bacon or ham, but since they’re off limits while on the Whole30 program (which ends TOMORROW!), I slowly caramelized a thinly sliced onion in melted lard before adding the blanched greens. 

The result? A super-easy and delicious accompaniment to a big plate of pig!

Welcome Another Fat Into My Pantry: Avocado Oil!

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Even though my lovely hubby bought me a new container of lard,

I’ve been experimenting with other high heat cooking oils.

Don’t get me wrong. I love lard but, due to my laziness, I don’t want to use a cooking fat that requires me to liquefy it before I use it. I really love the bottle of macadamia nut oil I purchased over X-mas but I’ve been using it so much that I’m almost finished with it.

After trolling the Internet, I decided that I should purchase some avocado oil.

It’s purported to have the same health benefits as olive oil BUT it has a much higher smoke point of 491° F. Plus, it’s listed in my Whole30 Success Guide as one of the BEST sources of monounsaturated fats. Nice.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, a two-pack arrived on my doorstep in two days. The avocado oil is very mild tasting oil and I’ve been subbing it in for olive oil in everything I’ve cooked today. Me likey.

Sous Vide Pork Belly

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Tonight was the first time I ever served pork belly, let alone sous vide pork belly. Thanks to my SousVide Supreme, it wasn’t a disaster and I didn’t have to order takeout as a back up.  In fact, it turned out pretty yummy.

A few nights ago, I brined two ¾-pound bricks of pork belly per the guidelines I found on David Barzelay’s site, Eat Foo. 

(Yes, the brine has brown sugar in it.)

The following morning, I removed the bellies out of the brine, dried them, and vacuum sealed them. 

Then, I dunked them in my SousVide Supreme (set at 160 F) and let them hang for 24 hours.  After a day passed, I put them in an ice bath and then stored them in the fridge until I cooked them off tonight for company.

I wasn’t sure whether or not to reheat the pork bellies in my SousVide Supreme before searing them so I opted to dunk them back in for 30 minutes at 160 F.  It might have been a mistake because when I tried to weigh the pork bellies down to flatten them post bath, the fat layer sheared right off the meat. Oh well. I decided to brown the four pieces separately and reassemble afterwards.

To sear the pork belly, I heated my cast iron skillet to medium high with 1 tablespoon of lard.  Then, I removed the pork bellies from their bags, pat them dry, and scored the fatty side with a sharp knife.

I browned the fat side for a good 4-5 minutes undisturbed and flipped it over to cook for an additional minute on the other side. 

The other two pieces were meatier, so I just seared them a minute on each side.

I plated them and then reassembled them to look like two solid pieces again.

Since I wasn’t sure we’d have enough meat to eat, I crisped up my last two sous vide chicken thighs straight from the fridge (6 minutes skin side down…

…then 2 minutes on the meat side).

Here’s our meat on a chipped serving platter:

For veggie sides, I served spinach and shallots sautéed in lard…


roasted butternut squash in lard

…and curried cream of broccoli soup.

Here’s my dinner plate:

The pork belly was tasty but the chicken thighs were awesome! I love that I can fry them straight from the fridge!

Roast Your Veggies Doused in Lard!

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I’ve been reading a lot about how it’s bad to use extra virgin olive oil when you’re cooking with high heat (e.g. roasting, grilling, etc.). What a buzz kill. Thankfully, I have good, healthful lard in the fridge!

Tonight, I decided to roast some carrots and delicata squash coated in lard. Doesn’t that just sound totally decadent and unhealthy? A year ago, I would never touch lard with a ten-foot pole, but now I use it all the time. From now on, I’m going to try to use coconut oil, ghee, or lard for all my high-heat cooking.

Cooking with lard isn’t as convenient as pouring olive oil out of a bottle – you gotta melt the stuff, but then it easily seizes up again when it touches your cold veggies or meat.

So here’s what I did: I scooped up a few tablespoons of lard and nuked it in a glass bowl for 20 second intervals until it melted. Make sure you closely monitor it or your microwave will look like someone barfed lard all over it. 

Once the lard melts, use a silicone brush to paint the fat onto your veggies.  It does solidify on contact (especially if your veggies are right out of the ice box) which is kind of annoying. But don’t overcompensate by slathering more on or you’ll end up with a huge oil slick at the bottom of your pan later.

Aren’t these carrots purty?

 

I peeled and cut them before coating them with lard and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Post-roasting (400 F for 40 minutes):

Here’s the delicata squash before I popped it in my toaster oven (400 F for 20-30 minutes). They almost look waxed!

Post-roasting:

I have tons of extra virgin olive oil stock-piled in my pantry from my pre-Paleo days. Now that I’ve sworn off cooking at high temperatures with the stuff, I guess I’m gonna be drizzling it on a lot of my dishes after I’ve plated them!

10 Minute Lunch at Home

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The part that took the longest?  Washing the beet greens — those suckers are muddy! All I did for lunch was shred some pre-cooked sous vide chicken breast, nuke some leftover garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes, and saute in lard some beet greens with a diced shallot.  

Whenever  I get turnips or beets in my CSA box, the attached newsletter always tells me to eat the turnip/beet greens first because they go bad quickly.   Normally, the quantity is too small to make a dinner side for the family so I end up tossing the wilted greens at the end of the week.  However, when you’re just serving one person, the size is perfect!

Look what hubby brought home from the Big City!  More specifically, from Prather Ranch at the Ferry Building.  I can’t wait to use this when I fry stuff!  Although people may find the Paleo diet really limiting since there are no grains or sugar but the reality is — IT’S SO LIBERATING EATING SATURATED FATS AGAIN!

Look what hubby brought home from the Big City!  More specifically, from Prather Ranch at the Ferry Building.  I can’t wait to use this when I fry stuff!  Although people may find the Paleo diet really limiting since there are no grains or sugar but the reality is — IT’S SO LIBERATING EATING SATURATED FATS AGAIN!