Nom Nom Paleo

Peachy Pork-A-Bobs

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Peachy Pork-a-Bobs by Michelle Tam

I grew up in suburban Menlo Park, California. You wouldn’t know if from the tree-lined residential streets and quaint downtown, but my hometown’s the birthplace of Google, Round Table Pizza, and the psychedelic 60s. I lived a block away from what is now the first-ever Tesla Motors dealership; as a high schooler, I worked there as a file clerk when it was a Chevy showroom. (I got hit by a truck while sprinting across the street after work to watch Donahue. If only I’d owned a DVR in 1989, I would’ve skipped the ambulance ride to the hospital.)

Menlo Park is also home to the Connoisseur’s Marketplace, a difficult-to-spell mid-summer festival highlighting food, wine, music, and art. As kids, my sister and I would peer into each of the stalls, tug on our parents’ arms and beg to buy trinkets and snacks. “Too expensive,” they’d say. 

"Can we at least buy a lemonade? It’s hot out!"

"No. We have lemons at home, and we live two blocks away."


The one thing—the only thing—for which my mom and dad would gladly shell out their hard-earned bucks? Pork-a-bobs. We always made a beeline for the Filipino stand offering grilled swine slathered with a sticky-sweet barbecue glaze. I haven’t been back to the Connoisseur’s Marketplace in over twenty years (even though it’s just the next town over from Palo Alto), but I still think about those skewers.

This year’s Connoisseur’s Marketplace just took place last weekend. So when the fine folks over at U.S. Wellness Meats asked me to develop a new recipe for them, Pork-a-Bobs were the first thing to spring to mind.

Peachy Pork-a-Bobs by Michelle Tam

My version incorporates sweet summer peaches in the smoky, fruity sauce, because I really don’t know of a better flavor combination than grilled pork and peaches. The pork is marinated in a simple, flavorful marinade, which means the sauce isn’t absolutely necessary. But I brush on the sauce after the pork’s off the grill (so it doesn’t burn) to give the meat an extra boost of flavor and to make it a fun, messy, lick-your-fingers treat.

Although I normally reserve pork shoulder for low and slow cooking preparations, it’s also fantastic cubed and grilled. This recipe keeps on giving because the pork reheats beautifully and the leftover sauce (which can be smeared on your favorite meats) will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

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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!

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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…

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

Grab some high quality pork…

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

…cube it (if you’re so inclined)…

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

…and toss with Sunny Paris seasoning and fish sauce.

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

…and tuck the cabbage wedges on top.

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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.

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

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

Slow Cooker Cheater Pork Stew by Michelle Tam

I love it when meals cook themselves!

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

Green Pork & Shiitake Sliders

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Here’s another variation on my green sliders — this time with Asian flair, just like me! Seriously, my kids love these portable pucks and it makes me happy that they’re getting veggies and protein in each bite.

Here’s what I assembled to make 30 mini sliders:

  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or favorite fat)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1/2 medium onion)
  • 6 reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup small-dice celery (from about 2 medium stalks)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut flour (amount varies)
  • 1 tablespoon of Red Boat fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • Additional 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil for frying

Here’s how I made them:

First, I dumped a package of frozen spinach into a Corningware container

…covered it with a lid, and nuked it on high for ~4 minutes to defrost it. Then, I dumped the spinach into a colander and pressed out all the liquid.

I heated 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet and tossed in the chopped onions and mushrooms along with some salt and pepper to taste. The veggies were sautéed until the liquid had evaporated and the onions were softened.

Next, the coconut milk, celery, and cilantro were blitzed with the hand blender

I placed the ground pork in a large bowl…

…added spinach…

…the puree…

…’shrooms and onions…


…coconut flour (Be sparing with it! Too much and your burgers will be dry.)…

…fish sauce…

…coconut aminos, salt, and pepper.

I used my hands to gently combine all the ingredients…

…and formed the meat mixture into small patties (about 2 inches in diameter).

I heated 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and fried the sliders in three batches.

I cooked the sliders for 3 minutes on each side, so each batch took about 6-7 minutes to finish.


Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

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Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

Wow. Bite for bite, I honestly don’t think I can come up with an easier recipe than this one. All you need is a big pork roast, a few slices of bacon, Hawaiian Sea Salt, and PATIENCE! Remember—quality matters when you’re using just 3 ingredients!

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

Here’s what I gathered to feed 8 people:

Here’s how I made it:

I grabbed a bag of Hawaiian Salt

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

…lined the slow cooker with 3 slices of bacon…

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

…and used a knife to remove the skin from the roast. 

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

(You don’t have to do this, though. Feel free to leave the skin on if you’re in a lazy state of mind. I won’t tell.)

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

Next, I weighed the pork so I could estimate how much salt to use. 

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

Normally, I liberally salt my roasts like it’s raining cats and dogs. But in this case, I wanted to be more judicious in my seasoning ’cause the long cooking time will concentrate the salt. In the end, I followed Judy Rodger’s rule of thumb: use ¾ teaspoon of medium-coarse salt for every 1 pound of meat. (Using fine salt? Use about half that amount.)

Then, I tucked in the garlic cloves…

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

…and salted the pork all over.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

I pulled out my trusty slow cooker…

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

…and placed the roast on top of the bacon, skin-side up.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

I plopped on the lid and cooked the roast on low for about 16 hours. Don’t add any liquid!

When the pork was finished cooking…

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

…I removed the meat and shredded it with two forks.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam

I checked the pork for seasoning and adjusted it with the cooking liquid that remained at the bottom of the pot. Don’t just shred the meat in the cooking liquid—it’ll be too salty! 

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig by Michelle Tam


Slow Braised Pork Leg with Citrus and Fajita Seasoning

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Last month, my meat CSA sent us a pasture-raised boneless pork leg roast. WTF was I supposed to do with it? Undeterred, I scoured the internet and my voluminous cookbook collection and settled on a recipe in Molly Steven’s All About Braising. Remember? She’s the original creator of the World’s Best Braised Cabbage.

I modified her Caribbean Pork Shoulder recipe by subbing in fajita and taco seasoning for her spice blend, using a teaspoon of dried oregano in place of thyme, adding a couple bay leaves, and juicing a Meyer lemon instead of a lime.

Here’s what I assembled:

  • 3 pound boneless pork leg, tied
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fajita and taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Here’s what I did:

I seasoned my pork leg liberally with salt and pepper. Then, I rubbed on the dried oregano and fajita and taco seasoning.

For the marinade, I whisked together the orange and lemon juices with the minced garlic. I placed the leg in a gallon Ziploc bag and poured on the marinade. I let the roast marinate in my fridge for 24 hours.

The next day, I preheated the oven to 300 F and I let the pork sit at room temperature while the oven heated. I transferred the pork leg to a large Dutch oven (5 to 6 quart) and poured on the remaining marinade and the 1/4 cup of water.

I covered the pot with parchment paper, pressing it down until it almost touches the pork, and put on the lid.

 I cooked the roast in the oven for 3.5 to 4 hours or until tender, turning it every hour.

I removed the string webbing…

…shredded up the meat…

…and poured on the defatted braising liquid.

Pretty tasty but a little on the dry side. Next time, I’m going to try this recipe with the cut she recommends: a 4 to 5 pound boneless Boston butt with skin on.

Go, butts!

X-mas With the In-Laws

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Tonight, we went to another potluck buffet bonanza at Fitbomb’s parents’ place. My contribution to the dinner was a platter of roasted cauliflower seasoned with Tabil.

I tossed the florets in macadamia nut oil, Tabil, salt, and pepper prior to roasting.

Here’s my paper plate piled with veggies and roast meats:

That’s a piece of vein-y turkey on top, not worm-infested meat.

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 Pork Chops Recipe

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Let me show you how easy perfect pork chops can be. 

A few days ago, I sous vided some pork chops (seasoned with Sagemary finishing salt and pepper, cooked at 134-140 F for 2 hours) so I’d have them ready for dinner tonight. Tonight, I took them out of the fridge…

…and dunked them into my SousVide Supreme that I’d filled and pre-heated to 134-140F.

I let them steep in the bath for 30 minutes while I prepped my other sides (garlic cauliflower “mashed potatoes,” roasted carrots, green beans with balsamic vinegar and slivered almonds, and herb gravy).  When time was up, I took the chops out of the bath and dried ‘em with a paper towel. Ugly and unappetizing, right?

But then I seared them off in my cast iron skillet with some melted lard. I left the chops undisturbed for a minute on each side…

…and then, using tongs, I seared the fatty edges of each chop.  Watch for grease fires!


(Nowadays, I just char the chops with my kitchen torch.)

Then, I plated everything up.  Looks pretty good for a weeknight dinner, no?