Nom Nom Paleo

Pressure Cooker Crispy Potatoes

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"But…but…but…potatoes aren’t Paleo!"

(7/18/14 UPDATE: White potatoes are now Whole30 approved!)

Once again, with feeling: It all depends on what you mean when you say “Paleo.” There is, after all, no such thing as one definitive Paleo diet. Potatoes may not have been available to cavemen, but I really don’t care. Historical re-enactment ain’t my cup of tea. (Besides, it’s not like our prehistoric ancestors snacked on dark chocolate bars, either.)

My personal template for Paleo eating focuses on nutrient-packed whole foods that don’t hurt me. For me, potatoes fall into that category. After checking out Bill and Hayley’s post on the Paleosity of potatoes, listening to the safe starch debate, and soaking in Mat Lalonde’s talk about nutrient density at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium (during which Mat pointed out that peeled potatoes are actually more nutrient dense than sweet potatoes, save for the beta-carotene in the latter), I’ve decided that an occasional portion of peeled potatoes are a-OK on my plate. Your circumstances may be different; for instance, if you’re on a super-low-carb protocol at the moment, you’re probably not looking to down a bowl of spuds.

Blah, blah, blah, science, science, science, blah, blah, blah.

With that pesky business out of the way, let me show you how to use a pressure cooker to make spuds with crispy exteriors and fluffy interiors in no time flat.

Ready?

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Here’s what to gather to make a side dish fit for four folks:

  • 1 pound fingerling or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform 1 - 1½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee or favorite animal fat
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • ½ medium lemon

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Easiest Roast Chicken Ever

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…especially if you live near a Trader Joe’s

TJ’s has been in California for almost half a century, but in recent decades, stores have been sprouting up all over the U.S. Each store opening has been met with rabid excitement, and it’s not hard to see why. As Fortune Magazine once put it, ”Trader Joe’s is no ordinary grocery chain. It’s an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience.”

The success of the chain is due in large part to its offerings: A tightly-curated selection of budget-friendly upscale goods, gourmet staples, and time-savers like pre-washed bagged kale, trimmed leeks, hardboiled eggs, you name it.

Of course, like just about every other big grocery chain, there’s plenty of super-processed Frankenfoods in the shopping aisles, too. Not everything that TJ’s carries is awesome (or awesome for you), but after two decades of shopping at Trader Joe’s, I still supplement my farmer’s market and CSA hauls with a weekly visit to the friendly workers at TJ’s. After all, there’s always something new to discover.

In fact, just last week, my super chef sister alerted me to one of TJ’s newest items: Organic brined whole chickens!

With this bird, it takes just ten minutes of hands-on prep time to make a complete supper that’s satisfying and flavorful. (A caveat: the chicken ain’t Whole30-approved ‘cause the brine contains some sugar.) While you’re waiting for the chicken to cook in the oven, you’ll have time to cuddle on the couch with your kids — or spend quality time surfing the interwebs. No judgment, I promise.

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

  • 1 whole organic brined chicken (5 pounds)
  • 4 trimmed leeks, sliced
  • 4 organic carrots, cut medium
  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter or ghee, divided
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
Here’s how to get dinner on the table in an hour:
You can get all your ingredients at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s. If you don’t live in one of the 35 states where TJ’s operates, I’m sorry. Your dinner won’t be as quick and easy as this one, but you can always plan ahead by brining your own chicken and still follow along with the rest of this recipe.

The brined chickens at Trader Joe’s are about 5 pounds each, and will easily feed 4 to 6 people. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Although the instructions on the packaging tell you to rinse the bird, just blot it dry with a paper towel. (It won’t end up too salty, I promise.)

With a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut out the back bone…

…and trim away excess fat and skin. (Don’t forget to save the carcass and back bone for bone broth.)

Then, spatchcock the bird: Flip the chicken over and open it up like a book. Using a kitchen knife, cut a ½-inch through the cartilage on the breast bone and firmly press down with your hands to flatten it.

Next, prepare the veggies that will line the roasting pan.

Even though the trimmed leeks from TJ’s look clean, there’s still lots of dirt hidden in the folds. Keeping the root end intact, cut the rest of the leek in half lengthwise.

Give the leek a quarter-turn, and then slice it lengthwise again (at a right angle from the initial cut). Keep the root end intact!

Fan the leaves under running water to release the sand and mud.

Once the leeks are cleaned, flick off the excess water and slice ‘em crosswise.

Chop the carrots in uniform medium chunks…

…and toss them on a tray with the leeks.

Add the quartered mushrooms and toss on some salt and pepper. 

Dot the vegetables with half of the softened butter or ghee (2 tablespoons).

Lay the chicken on top of the seasoned vegetables, breast-side up.

Smush on the remaining two tablespoons of butter or ghee.

Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes or until the breast registers 150° F on a meat thermometer and the thigh meat hits 170° F.

(As you can see, I cooked my chicken in my amazing toaster oven. Yes, my regular oven remains broken. Boo!)

Brined chicken skin doesn’t get as toasty and crispy as a dry-rubbed chicken — but I’ll trade perfectly bronzed skin for juicy meat any day. 

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving it. In the meantime, toss the vegetables in the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

While you’re waiting to cut the chicken, sauté some greens to go with your chicken and roasted veggies.

Voilà! 

Spicy Pineapple Salsa

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When I’m in a hurry to get something — anything —  in my belly, I grab some cooked protein (e.g. Slow Cooker Kalua Pig) and top it with a potent flavor booster, like spicy pineapple salsa. This sweet, crunchy, spicy, sour, and juicy condiment elevates everything you spoon it on. Plus, it keeps for a few days in the fridge. Emergency flavor booster + emergency protein = happy mommy.

Here’s what to gather to make 2 cups:

  • 1½ cups (340 grams) diced pineapple 
  • 1 Persian cucumber, peeled, diced and seeds removed 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced (remove ribs and seeds if you can’t stand the heat)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s how to make it:

Combine everything in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

That’s it.

What? You want to see the step-by-step photos and play-by-play color commentary? Then keep reading after the jump…

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Leon’s Caper and Anchovy Miracle Sauce

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Despite releasing my recipes via this blog and my iPad® app rather than in print (thus far!), I’ve always been an unabashed cookbook hoarder.

The latest addition to my collection is Leon: Naturally Fast Food. Before picking up the book, I didn’t know anything about Leon — a small, award-winning chain of restaurants in the U.K. — but the quirky and charming book design and simple recipes made this purchase a no-brainer. 

Leon’s not a Paleo cookbook, but it contains a plethora of time-saving tips and most of the recipes can be tweaked to be Paleo-compliant. (Each recipe includes helpful information about whether it’s gluten-free or dairy-free.) The cookbook is broken up into two parts: the first half contains recipes that take less than 20 minutes to prepare, and the second half features “Slow Fast Food” dishes that you make in advance and eat when you’re harried. Brilliant. 

As I was flipping through the pages the other night, the Caper & Anchovy Miracle Sauce recipe caught my eye. I had all the ingredients in my pantry. Plus, I love making umami-laden sauces that can transform simply cooked meats and vegetables into “fancy” dishes. Don’t be scared off by the capers and anchovies — they add a tartness and brininess that can’t be replaced by anything else.

In fact, I ended up punching up the brightness in the sauce by increasing the amount of anchovies and lemon juice specified in the recipe, and adding fiery red pepper flakes to boot. I was hoping my jar of miracle sauce would last a week, but I’ve been spooning it on everything — hard boiled eggs, steamed veggies, chicken breasts, you name it — and I’m almost out. (By the way, the sauce thickens in the fridge, so warm it up before drizzling it on.)

Here’s what to gather to make a cup of my adaptation of Leon’s Miracle Sauce:

  • 12 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil (contents of a 2 ounce can)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons capers 
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice from one small lemon
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper

Here’s what to do:

Peel back the lid of a can of anchovies.

Drain the oil from the fishies…

…and finely mince.

Place the minced anchovies and ½ cup of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir until the anchovies melt into the oil (about 3-5 minutes).

While the anchovies and oil are melding, finely chop the capers.

Remove the anchovy-infused oil from the heat and add the capers and red pepper flakes.

Then, pour in the remaining olive oil….

…and add the lemon juice. 

Give everything a good stir.

Toss in the chopped parsley…

…and season to taste with freshly ground pepper. No extra salt necessary!

Drizzle the sauce on anything that could use an oomph of flavor…

…and store the rest in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Miraculously easy, and tastier than the sum of its parts!

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.

Enjoy!
-Dave

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

Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho

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True confession: As a child, I despised gazpacho.

Ever since that fateful day I tasted the bitingly acidic sludge my gastro-curious mom picked up from the neighborhood “gourmet” deli, I swore I’d never willingly eat chilled tomato soup again. It wasn’t until years later that I begrudgingly sampled a bowl of gazpacho at Oliveto’s and the scales fell from my eyes. Oh my. So that’s what gazpacho tastes like when it’s made with sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes and not V8 mixed with metallic-tasting canned tomatoes! These days, gazpacho is one of my favorite simple, make-ahead summertime recipes — especially when combined with the bright flavors of juicy watermelon, cool cucumbers, and crisp red peppers.

For this refreshing version of gazpacho, use the best tomatoes you can find. And no, removing the skins from the tomatoes and cucumber is not optional. Make this soup when you’re wilting under the heat of the summer sun, and you’ll thank me.

(Note: I made this recipe in a single batch ‘cause I own a gigantic, super-powerful, 64-ounce Vitamix. If you’ve got a smaller blender, divide the recipe in half or blend in batches. Alternatively, you can purée the soup in a food processor, but you won’t achieve the same smooth texture.)

Here’s what to gather to make 8 cups:

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium red bell pepper 
  • 1 hothouse cucumber (approximately 1 pound)
  • 2 small shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cilantro stalks
  • 1 pound cubed watermelon (approximately 3 cups) 
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Here’s how you make the soup:

Gather the ripest tomatoes you can find and get ready to peel ‘em.

 

As I mentioned, peeling the tomatoes makes a HUGE difference in the final texture and taste of the soup. And tomatoes are easy to peel after you quickly blanch them and shock them in ice water.

Wanna see how to do it?

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.

Cut a small ‘X” on the bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife…

…and drop them into the boiling water for 30 seconds.

As soon as the time is up, transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water.

After the tomatoes chill in the bowl for a minute or two, their skins should slide right off.

Core each tomato and roughly chop them, reserving all the juice and seeds.

Next, grab the bell pepper and cucumber.

Lay the pepper on its stem-end and cut around the seeds and core…

…like this:

Chop the slices into a medium dice. (If your blender isn’t very powerful, chop the peppers into even smaller pieces.)

Peel the cucumber…

…and reserve a third of it to garnish the finished soup.

Roughly chop up the rest of the cucumber. Again, if you’ve got a wimpy blender, hack the pieces smaller.

Next, dump the shallots, cucumber, bell pepper, cilantro, and tomatoes into the blender, and…

 

…blend until puréed. Make sure to cover the lid with a towel to reduce splashes and splatters.

While the blender is whirring away, cube and de-seed the watermelon.

Once the veggies are liquefied…

…add the watermelon, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

 

Blend until smooth.

Voilà!

 

Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Refrigerate the soup in the blender cup for at least 4 hours or until it’s fully chilled.

The ingredients may separate a bit while resting in the fridge, so when you’re ready to serve, stick the soup back on the blender base and blitz it again to re-combine everything. And while you’re at it, dice up the reserved cucumber.

Ladle the gazpacho into chilled cups and top with a drizzle of olive oil, cucumber, and fresh cracked pepper.

It’s summer in a bowl.

Roasted Green Beans

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Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Before anyone gets on my case about whether green beans are Paleo, I eat them when they’re in season because they’re more pod than bean, and because Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Whole9 say it’s a-OK. So there.

My favorite way to cook these green pods is to roast them in a hot oven after they’ve been tossed with melted fat and lightly drizzled with fish sauce. When they come out of the oven, they’re tender yet roast-y, and a spritz of citrus ties everything together. 

Here’s what to gather to feed 4 people as a side dish:

  • 1 pound green beans, stem ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, ghee, or fat of choice
  • 1 teaspoon Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice from half a lime or lemon

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Grab your washed and trimmed green beans and make sure they are bone dry.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Throw them on the baking sheet and coat the green beans with fat, fish sauce, and a few grinds of pepper.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Arrange the beans in a single layer on the tray…

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing the beans at the midway point.

The beans are ready when the skins are wrinkly and dotted with browned spots. Squeeze on the juice from half a lime or lemon and serve immediately.

Roasted Green Beans by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Julia Child’s Classic Roast Chicken

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When Julia Child recommends a fool-proof way to roast a chicken, I sit up, shut up, and listen. 

In celebration of Julia Child’s incredible culinary legacy, this week’s JC100 recipe is the classic roast chicken from Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom. Her techniques and tips for roasting a bird are simple and straightforward, and produce a bird with crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat. Even if — like me — you’re too lazy to baste as often as she recommends, the chicken will taste wonderful. Just make sure to follow this guide for cooking time: 45 minutes + 7 minutes per pound [e.g. 4-pound chicken = 45 + 7(4) = 73 minutes]. Also: Use LOTS of butter.

What I love best about this recipe is that you can double it and roast two chickens at the same time. That way, you’ll have plenty of leftovers and two carcasses with which to make bone broth. Winner, winner….oh, you know the rest.

Here’s what to gather to roast two chickens (serves 6-8 people):

  • 2 whole chickens, 4 pounds each
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 small onions, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped yams
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onions

Here’s how to roast the pair o’ birds:

Round up two roast chickens and pat them dry.

Liberally season the birds inside and out with salt and pepper. 

I like to salt my meat for at least a few hours and up to a day before I roast it to maximize  the flavor-boosting potential.

An hour before you’re ready to cook the chickens, take them out of the fridge to come to room temperature. At the same time, put your butter on the counter to soften, and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Once the chickens are no longer chilly, dry them off with a paper towel and stuff the cavities with lemon slices, onion, and thyme.

With a piece of string, tie the drumsticks together…

…and tuck the wingtips back behind the chicken.

Use your fingers to massage the softened butter all over the skin, and lay the chickens breast-side up on the V-rack in a large roasting pan.

Place the roasting pan in the oven for 15 minutes to brown the skin. 

Next, decrease the oven temperature to 350°F and baste every 8 to 10 minutes if you’re so inclined. (Me? I didn’t baste AT ALL. I told you: I’m lazy.)

In a bowl, toss the carrots, yams, and chopped onions…

…with the remaining butter and salt and pepper. 

A half hour after the chicken first went in the oven, add the root vegetables to the pan and toss in the accumulated juices.

Check the chicken for doneness about five minutes before the recommended weight-based cooking time (see formula above) is up. (I checked my pair of 4-pound chickens at the 70 minute mark.) Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the thighs reach 165-170° F.

Remove the rack from the roasting pan and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes prior to carving.

Spoon on the root vegetables, carve up the birds, and dig in.

Porkitos! (a.k.a. Crispy Prosciutto Chips)

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I prefer prosciutto chips to bacon bits because they cook evenly and there aren’t any unappetizing flabby parts. These “Porkitos” also add a terrific salty crunch to creamy soups, salads, and purées. Or you can just stuff your face with them.

'Cause really — who doesn’t like crispy, porky chips?

Here’s what to gather to make a tray of crunchy Porkitos (feeds 1-2 people):

  • 3 ounces of thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma (Try to get freshly-sliced prosciutto from the deli counter and make sure they cut it paper thin.)

Here’s how to make ‘em:

Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper…

…and place the prosciutto in a single layer on top. Don’t overcrowd the swine or it won’t crisp properly.

Once the oven is ready, place the the tray in the oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your prosciutto slices) or until crunchy. Watch your chips like a hawk to make sure they don’t burn. Burnt chips make Nom Nom wanna smash things.

Transfer the chips to a wire rack to cool.

They’ll actually get crunchier as they cool, so it’s better to err on the side of under-baking them. Look — like stained glass (only swine-ier)!

With Brussels sprouts chips, kale chips, mushroom chips (recipe available on my iPad app), and now PORKITOS, who needs boring old potato chips?

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?
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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.

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Toss well.

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

Add onions…

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…and sauté until transluscent.

Stir in tomato paste and fry for 30 seconds…

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…before tossing in garlic…

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…and seasoned beef.

Next, pour in salsa…

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

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

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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…

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

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

¡Buen apetito!