Podcast: Play in new window (right click to download the episode)
Episode 14: One Time At Meat Camp & Grilling Basics
I’m an adventurous cook in my own kitchen, and I know my way around all the wacky gadgets I stockpile to make cooking easier—from electric pressure cookers to sous vide water ovens—and even my handy-dandy blowtorch.
But oddly enough, the one cooking method that’s always
struck fear in my heart is grilling over coals. To me, there was always something
intimidating about making a fire and cooking outdoors—something that felt
uncontrolled and wild. So naturally, whenever we grilled, it was always Henry’s job to do it.
Or at least that was the case until I spent a recent weekend at a women’s only meat camp at Belcampo Farm. Yes, you heard that right: MEAT. CAMP.
What is this magical retreat I speak of? Well, listen to the latest episode of our podcast as I
tell you all about the stuff I learned: including how to build my own fire,
butcher small animals, and grill like a champ. ’Cause really: what’s more Paleo
than throwing raw meat on an open flame? Plus, we chat about potatoes, soffritto, cancer risk associated with grilled meat, and packed lunches!
What We Ate
Big-O leads off this episode by talking about his favorite safe starch, white potatoes. They’re not considered Paleo by those who are purists, but potatoes are A-OK in our house.
Why? The way I see it, Paleo’s a template that lets us discover the
healthiest versions of ourselves. It doesn’t mean “Paleo perfection” or
historical reenactment, and it’s not a static definition, either. I’ve said it before:
“Paleo” is constantly evolving. When new information comes out, we should
consider it, and see if it’s right for us, rather than just dismissing it out of hand because it doesn’t fit someone else’s definition of “Paleo.”
Want to learn more?
- Check out this primer on resistant starch
- Two of Big O’s favorite potato dishes are Pressure Cooker Crispy Potatoes and Potato Salad.
In this episode, I also share a game-changer I learned at Belcampo Meat Camp: that soffritto (not sofrito) is one of the coolest flavor boosters you can make ahead of time. I don’t have a step-by-step recipe on the blog (yet!), but I describe how to whip up a batch in this section of the episode.
Can’t be bothered to listen? Then here’s the gist: You get onions, carrots, and
celery in the proportions of 60:20:20. That means 60 percent onions, 20 percent
carrots, and 20 percent celery. Dice everything small or blitz it all in a food
processor. Heat up a large pan with ghee or olive oil and slowly sauté
everything over medium low heat for about an hour. (Don’t be skimpy with the
oil; your soffritto won’t turn out right if you just use one of those olive oil spray cans
and mist your vegetables with a barely-there sheen of oil.)
You’ll know your soffritto’s done when everything is tender and almost golden. All the flavors and natural
sugars should concentrate and mellow out. It’s perfection. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months. (I like to freeze mine in these silicone molds and then transfer the little pucks to a sealable container in the freezer.)
Next, Lil-O tells us that he’s been eating a lot of tacos. His tortilla of choice is made with cassava flour, so it’s gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, and nut-free. Jenni Hulet has a great recipe for cassava flour tortillas, as does Fork and Beans. I’ve been using this tortilla press to smush the dough.
The Main Course
As I mentioned earlier, grilling and cooking
over burning hot charcoal is not my strong suit. If I want grilled food, I
delegate it to Henry. But as I found out at Meat Camp—grilling’s not that hard. Plus, you get amazing results with minimal effort. No wonder guys like to do it.
I was invited as a guest to Belcampo’s inaugural meat camp (which happened to be a ladies-only event), and it turned out to be a three-day, jam-packed, meat-intensive getaway for a dozen women that included butchering, fire-building, grilling, glamping, and hair-braiding.
I even got to drag along my talented photographer pal, Danielle
Tsi, to help me shoot pics of all the meaty happenings. (In fact, all the lovely photos of camp in this post were shot by Danielle.) Danielle’s a fellow
foodie and meat enthusiast, and she’s a fellow member of a weekly writing salon that I attend. Check out a slideshow of camp with Danielle’s fabulous photos here:
Highlights of Belcampo’s Meat Camp included:
Meeting all the wonderful women campers at the event, including Rebecca Sullivan, Sadie Stein, Sarah Miller, Sarabeth Rings, Claudine Dagit, Analise Roland, Lindsey Ott of Mama Tong Soup, Alessandra Ghini, Sandra J., and Michelle Gaines. Sarah Miller’s hilarious article in the San Francisco Chronicle perfectly captures my feelings about Meat Camp.
Glamping at its finest!
Eating tons of amazing meals al fresco on the farm!
Learning how to butcher small animals—something can be done in a home kitchen! This experience perfectly complemented my Whole Beast Butchery class at 4505 Meats. I was so inspired by the butchery classes that I bought myself an inexpensive new boning knife.
Attending workshops that included wine and cured meat pairings,
sausage making, poultry grilling, braising,how to make stocks and bone broth—and even a cocktail demo. (And it wouldn’t be camp without physical activities, so there was plenty of hiking, yoga, pilates, and kettlebell classes.)
I was also excited to get
a tour of the ranch and see how the animals are raised and butchered on the
farm. Belcampo is a lot of things: a farm, a processing plant, neighborhood
butcher shops, and restaurants. It’s a completely vertical operation—they
manage and control every step of the process, from farm to table. And you can taste the difference.
The main takeaways from meat camp? Salt your meat
liberally. Don’t be afraid to use your senses. (Hold your hand above
the grill to feel if it’s hot. If you hover your hand 6 inches above the
surface of the grill and you can’t stand the heat, you know it’s high heat. And
when the meat’s almost done cooking, touch it to see if it’s ready.)
My biggest takeaway, though, was to NOT BE
PARALYZED BY MY FEAR OF GRILLING and JUST DO IT.
My Meat Camp weekend got me psyched up to teach at the upcoming Camp Nerd Fitness! (Who’s going?!?)
(Psst! There’s a co-ed Belcampo Meat Camp happening in October. Read all the deets here.)
But what about the connection between grilled meat and cancer? you ask.
Am I still going to eat grilled meat? Yes.
Ultimately, healthy eating is about striking a balance. You can
sear your steaks and still live a long and healthy life. Just don’t grill as
your exclusive cooking method, and make sure you also consume healthy
plant-based foods. You can throw some chicken thighs on the grill—but to
mitigate the risks that come with grilling, make sure they’re marinated in an acidic marinade, which has the added bonus of tasting great! (Marinating beef
for one hour has been shown to reduce advanced glycation end-product formation by over 50 percent, and
marinades can cut heterocyclic amine formation in meat by up to 90%.)
And don’t overcook your meat on the grill—medium rare is
best-tasting anyway! Lastly, remember to rotate and switch up your cooking methods.
Don’t just grill all the time. Mix it up with some gentler cooking methods,
like steaming, poaching, braising, and pressure cooking. See? You should really get yourself an Instant Pot.
Crush of The Week
The kids tell us that they both have a not-crush of the week: returning back to school!
I, on the other hand, have a couple of crushes to share. This week, I am crushing hard on Primal Palate’s new spice blends…
…and Paleo Chef’s Phat Fudge. Hear all about ’em on the podcast!
Question of The Week
Matt on Facebook asks: I’m a single dad, so I’m in charge of my 1st grader’s meals. Do you have any
tips and tricks for packing kids lunches for the school year? How do your kids feel about having weird lunches? What do you use to keep the lunches cold?
As for how to keep lunches cold, I recently bought PackIt insulated lunch bags and they’re awesome. The bags have coolant sewn into the lining and they’re super cool. (I’m sorry I’m not sorry for the bad pun.)
That’s it for this week! We’ll have another episode up soon enough, but if you can’t wait, feel free to check out our first dozen episodes and access all the show notes by heading over to our podcast archive. If you have questions for future podcasts, please leave them in the comments below. We’re always looking for great topics!
Like what you heard? Subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review by clicking here! And don’t forget, you can get TWO months’ free membership and 25% off your first order at Thrive Market by clicking here. How great is that?
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times– bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).