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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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Stir in the garlic, ginger and tomato paste…

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…and sauté for 30 second until fragrant.

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Add the coconut aminos, vinegar, juice…

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…and cherries…

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…and bring to a boil.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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…and finally in eighths.

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

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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.

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GRRR! (THWACK!)

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

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Season the beef with salt and pepper…

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…and brush both sides with melted ghee.

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

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Let the meat skewers rest for 5 to 10 minutes…

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…before brushing on the cherry barbecue sauce.

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

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

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

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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).

Dinner In An Hour: Sous Vide Organic Rib Eye Steak, Mash,Green Beans, & Gravy

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Think serving steak with all the fixings is hard to do on a weeknight? Think again! With a little sous vide magic and pre-planning, I managed to get dinner on the table in under an hour. That sound you hear? It’s me patting myself on the back.

Here’s how I tackled dinner:

When I got home from work this morning, I took out a couple of Costco purchased organic beef rib eye steaks from the fridge. I dried the meat with paper towels, seasoned with Sagemary finishing salt and freshly ground black pepper…

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…and vacuum sealed them.

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Okay — these babies aren’t grass fed, but I wanted to try them out because they were reasonably priced and I miss the unctuous, fatty taste of grain fed beef.

I heated the SousVide Supreme to 129 F and plopped in my two steaks. I was going to let them bathe until I woke up at 5:00 p.m (~ 8hours).

I also vacuum sealed some Dukka-seasoned pork chops…

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…and Tabil-seasoned chicken breasts.

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I was going to put these packets in the SousVide Supreme after I took out the steaks in the evening.

Then, I took a Lunesta and conked out. (Lunesta is badass but it leaves a terrible taste in your mouth when you first swallow it…)*

When I woke up in the evening, I assembled the ingredients to make herb gravy

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…with sautéed mushrooms and leeks.

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I dumped the broth, onions, dried thyme, and garlic into a small saucepan and simmered everything for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, I steamed some cauliflower florets and garlic to make garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes.” When they were softened, I pureed them in the Cuisinart with some extra virgin olive oil, grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. 

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I also dumped a pound of trimmed green beans into my Corningware and nuked them until tender. When they were done, I tossed on some extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

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With my veggies out of the way, I focused my attention on the main event: THE MEAT. I took the steaks out of the SousVide Supreme and dried them. After heating a couple tablespoons of lard in my 12-inch cast iron skillet, I seared the steaks…

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…for 2 minutes on each side. Look at that nice char!

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After I plated the steaks…

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…I threw the sliced leeks and mushrooms into the cast iron skillet and sautéed them with some salt and pepper.  By this time, the herb gravy was ready to be pureed, so I dumped the contents of the saucepan into the Vitamix and blitzed the sauce for 30 seconds. When the mushrooms were nice and browned, I poured in the herb gravy and let it simmer for a few minutes.

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Voila! Here’s my steak dinner with three side dishes — all done in about an hour.

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Costco’s organic steaks tasted pretty good. I always get better results from my SousVide Supreme when I use grain-fed cow parts. Don’t worry; I chased it down with a shot of fish oil.

*UPDATE 3/22/13: I don’t use Lunesta anymore or any other prescription sleep aid. This post was from more than 2 years ago and my daytime sleep routine has improved a lot. 

Sous Vide Grass Fed Top Sirloin (And Lots O’ Veggies)

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Tonight I’m lagging because I’m returning to work after having 3 weeks off. Argh!  As a result, for dinner I made lots of veggies and a big sous vide grass fed top sirloin steak so I’d have lots of leftovers to pack for work.

In preparation for my workweek, I started sous viding like a mad woman on Tuesday morning.  I layed out all my proteins on my kitchen counter and seasoned and vacuum sealed them with my Foodsaver.  I try to combine as many meats as possible that cook at the same temp, so I set my SousVide Supreme to 140 F and plopped in 4 seasoned pork chops and 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts.  After they had cooked for 2.5 hours, I took them out and placed them in an ice bath so I could store them in the fridge for later in the week.  I added cold water and turned down the temp to 120 F to cook my frozen wild sockeye salmon for lunch.  After taking out the salmon, I increased the water temp to 130 F and dunked in my grass fed top sirloin steak which I seasoned with Sagemary finishing salt and pepper.

The steak was going to cook in the SousVide Supreme for about 30 hours and I was going to take it out at dinner time on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, I cooked the world’s best braised cabbage and prepared some cauliflower, garlic, and bacon that I was going to roast off when I woke up. I stored the vege and swine bits in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.

When I awoke, I took out the steak and dropped in two bags of Cascadian farm winter squash puree in the Sous Vide Supreme.  These puree packs float in the water bath so I always weigh them down with a rack.  I tossed some olive oil in my Ziploc filled with cauliflower, bacon, and garlic and seasoned it all with salt and pepper.  After giving the sealed bag a nice shake, I poured it all out on a foil lined baking sheet and baked at 375 F for ~30-35 minutes.  Jaden’s recipe says that it only takes 20 minutes in the oven, but mine definitely took longer.  While the cauliflower was in the oven, I prepped some portobello mushroom packs and popped them in the oven with the cauliflower and let those cook for ~25 minutes.

Then I pulled the winter squash puree out of the SousVide Supreme and stirred in some butter, salt, and pepper.  I took the steak out of its bag, dried it off, and seared it in some lard in my cast iron skillet.  I seared the steak for ~2 minutes per side per the tips on Kamikaze cookery.  Last of all, I microwaved the cabbage and cut up the mushrooms and drizzled the ‘shrooms with my aged balsamic vinegar.

Voila!  All of this was on the table within 1 hour and I have 3 boxes of lunch in the fridge (plus, leftover steak).