Seriously, y’all. It’s like I put a cheeseburger in a blender. I had this fantastic concoction cooking all day yesterday as we were moving in and our tiny kitchen was thick with the smell of backyard barbecue.
This was our second meal actually prepared in the new house. If you recall, half our house was without power and the AC was out for the whole weekend because things like that just…seem…to happen to me all of the time. I think we’re finally in the clear, but just know for the rest of the year I’ll be afraid to turn on the dryer…20A to start when the whole house is only 60A is terrifying. My only good ideas are to either a) just do laundry out, or b) to designate a laundry day and make sure *everything* is shut off before even thinking about washing clothes. At least our water bill might be lower?
Anyway, this chili. I went ahead and roasted half a butternut squash in foil and just scooped out the inside and dumped it into the crock pot, but in the future I’ll probably just used the canned stuff since a) it takes way less time, and b) I won’t have to turn the oven on. I’m making a lot of lists today. If I’d have been thinking ahead, I’d have thought to get some ketchup and mustard to dump over my bowl and make this even more like a cheeseburger smoothie. Trust me on this one.
So I made some baked apples this morning for breakfast and then realized I could use the same pan to roast up a bunch of chicken for this week’s lunches. No, I didn’t wash it in between (who does that?) so there was still a little coconut oil, apple goop, and allspice left behind. No big deal or anything, but this is the best damned chicken ever. EVER.
Speaking of chicken…Ross and I are in a roast chicken phase. Like, at least once a week for the last couple months. Whole chickens are super cost effective, even if they’re free range and organic…which they should be because unhappy, drug-induced chickens are no bueno for a lot of reasons. But we all knew that. Anyway, lots of roast chicken means lots of opportunities to make some fresh chicken stock without an ass-ton of added sodium and Goodness knows whatever else goes into the canned stuff. So go roast a chicken and make stock out of its carcass. You know you want to.
And of course, Fall is upon us here in the Mid-Atlantic and so it Soup Season. How convenient! Stock = Soup. I do love a good bowl of soup when the weather gets cooler, and I love soup, too, because it’s so low maintenance. Chop, toss, boil, eat. Boom. This is my latest concoction and it turned out swimmingly. Full of veggies and enough heat to warm you up!
We first decided to hop on the Paleo bandwagon almost 4 years ago when we lived in Texas and giant cuts of meat were plentiful and–most importantly for us–affordable. I didn’t know a pork loin from a chop at the time since I’d always been a good girl who opted for whole wheat pasta over fatty meats, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have to learn quick. The first time I bought a Boston Butt I actually thought it was the pig’s ass meat…score one for immature curiosity.
Fun fact: it’s the ham that’s the pig’s ass. Just FYI. Boston Butt is the pig’s upper shoulder, like up around the shoulder blade and is an incredibly tender, meaty and fatty cut that is superb for slow cooking. Don’t let the layer of fat freak you out–for one fat is good for you, and for another it renders down considerably during the cooking process and flavors the rest of the cut. It can be seasoned minimally or maximally (try this recipe, or this one, or this one), but this recipe is my go-to for a busy week night because it’s FAST, EASY, and DELICIOUS…and makes enough leftovers to keep us fed for a few days if needed. When we were at Ft Hood and had to commute in at 4:30 am, then not get home till 7:30 pm, this was an absolute lifesaver. I’d make a 5 or 6 pound butt on Monday, shred it up, and we’d have dinner and lunches till Wednesday.
Ever cooked with pig’s feet before? I sure hadn’t till this weekend. You know me…I see a weird part of an animal and I just…HAVE to eat it. That sounds awful. Pleassssse don’t get grossed out and run away just yet…they were actually quite delicious. A little interesting to eat, but delicious.
I know pig’s feet are generally used just as a flavoring agent–I’d only ever seen my mom use pig feet and hocks to make split pea soup. And I guess you see them pickled but that just looks nasty to me. There isn’t too much meat on them but a nice amount of fat and skin, which gets soooo tender and crispy when they’re slow cooked in the sauce then broiled to perfection.
Warning: you will get messy. I started off with knife and fork but realized that it’s so much easier to tear into them with hands and bare teeth. Kinda like ribs. Soooo I wouldn’t wear white. Trust me, it got a little primal in here.
For some reason, brats and sauerkraut is Ross’s most-requested meal. Not that I’m complaining…I like it when I don’t have to plan dinner since I almost always get the “Whatever you want to make!” response when I ask. More than anything, though, I like it because it’s easy. It’s comfort food that can be dressed up or down with whatever you’ve got on hand.
If you haven’t noticed, though, I’ve been hella busy with school this summer and Ross is all over the place, too. More than I’d like to admit, we’re not even home for dinner at the same time, so the crock pot has been a godsend. Ross was really skeptical of brats in the crockpot…and to be honest, I was, too since I was afraid they’d just disintegrate. Nope! We got juicy bratwursts that actually seasoned the ‘kraut as they cooked. Feel free to add whatever you’d like but it was so nice to have just a few ingredients to toss in together before I ran out the door. This one’s a keeper!
I’ve been trying my hand at some more complicated recipes lately…and it stresses me out. My red velvet fiasco comes to mind…I will never touch a beet again. Ever.
So you might say I need some simplicity in my life. Great segway, huh? I had no intention of ever posting this recipe, to be completely honest. I had pork shoulder that was meant for the crockpot (a weekly occurence in my house), but I noticed a lone can of pineapple in the bowels of the pantry. Not one to waste food, I threw it in there with some ginger for good measure, and BOOM. Awesome dinner. Like, super tender, succulent, sweet, salty, savory…OMG. Just do this. It’s so easy it’s a crime not to.
I dunno if I can really call this BBQ at all since I did it in a crockpot. And I’m not hating on Texas BBQ at all! I lived in Austin for 3 years, after all. Actually, check that–I love CENTRAL Texas BBQ…for the love of gee-whiz, I hate how all those Houston folks smother their meat in sauce that’s so friggin sweet it might as well be melted Jolly Ranchers. I’m gonna get some hate for that, I know…but you can’t fault me for being honest.
Growing up in the South…but, you know, the eastern part…I have an affinity for a vinegar-y base. Which, now that I think of it, might also explain my love of British pub fare. Or maybe that makes no sense at all. Whatever. My life, my food. Anyway, this is my take on your standard vinegar-based, sweet mustard sauce with just a little heat. If I had the time, I’d gladly break out the wood smoker…but seriously, my crockpot has never failed me. Saturday night BBQ was no exception! (Hint…this is spectacular served with Paleo Cornbread and Sweet Potato Turnip Puree!!)
So it’s no secret that I’m leaving the Army in a few months. Still working on, you know, a plan and all but lately some BIG things have been happening and we’ve got some tentative stuff in the works. There’s a couple directions it could go, so I won’t jinx anything, but if everything works out we’ll be embarking on something pretty badass. Well, I think so at least.
Enough of that! Let’s talk about this dish. I confess I was inspired by a recipe from a book called “Campfire Cuisine” for a Thai marinade…except I nixed all the brown sugar, added a bunch of chilies, and threw it all in the Crock because I’m way too lazy to build a fire. I’m seriously contemplating getting a second crock pot because I could easily live off giant cuts of pork stewed in the Crock all winter. I was only sorry I couldn’t fit more meat in there this time around because this recipe is just so…EASY. Just so…EFFING DELICIOUS. The coconut-drenched pork just melts in your mouth. You get a nice bite from the fish sauce, too…fish sauce is an ingredient I’m still learning to use (you can make a dish terrible pretty quick with too much or too little) and just enough heat to keep you warm on a cold winter day (the high yesterday was 17, y’all…).
This is an oldie but a goodie. My original beef tongue post went up like….a whole year ago…when even Ross didn’t read my blog. I’ve made beef tongue quite a few times since, and have discovered that, yet again, the crock pot makes it a helluva lot easier.
You can dress up your tongue however you want–it tastes like, well, BEEF, and cuts and shreds easily. Every Paleo blog out there seems to have a tongue taco recipe, and I did an Asian-style version for Offal Week, but personally I’m partial to it all by its lonesome. Rich and oh so tender!
1 Beef Tongue
1 T Sea Salt
1 T Black Pepper
3 Garlic Clove, minced
Olive Oil, for roasting
Place the tongue in the crock pot with enough water to cover it. Add the seasoning and set the crock pot on low. Cook on LOW for 5-8 hours.
Remove the tongue from the water and let it rest and cool for 30 minutes (don’t skip this step, it makes everything easier!!).
Carefully remove the skin from the outside of the tongue. Cut it into slices and arrange on a greased baking pan. Brush with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until lightly crisped around the edges.
I killed an entire pork belly in a weekend. I mean, maybe that’s not totally surprising since I haven’t stopped eating all week. At least I like to think I was binging of quality food. And pork belly = one giant slab of bacon. That’s quality if I’ve ever seen it.
What’s worse, though, is that I’ve been in sweats and Ugg boots for the last 72 hours. No, I don’t think that’s OK at all but it’s soooooo cold here. And they’re not even real Uggs…gotta love Target-brand knockoffs. And not even cute sweats…like, imagine the most ill-fitting set of Sam’s Club XXL Men’s sweat pants ever, stained with what I hope to God is mustard. Please don’t tell anyone.
Oh, and my house is finally “moved in.” I declared it today because I finally got everything to a nice orderly situation. Meaning I just but all of our extra crap in Ross’s office and told him to deal with it. It will probably never be this neat again, but whatever. It’s all about the memories. Besides, we’re probably moving AGAIN in the summer. Where to, I have no clue…but I’m leaving the Army and the sky’s the limit. Or I won’t be able to find a job and be homeless. I’m such an optimist.
Soooooo….pork belly. This recipe is almost zero effort. I used Woodchuck Amber for mine since I like cooking with alcohol–it keeps the meat super tender. But if you’re not all about alcohol or are on a Whole30 or something, you can use any clean apple cider or juice. Like this one.
2 lbs Pork Belly
12 oz Apple Cider (or a bottle of hard cider)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Veggies of choice
Score the fatty side of the pork belly. Place in a bowl or baking dish. Cover both sides with salt and pepper, then pour the apple cider over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
Place the marinated pork belly and cider/marinade in your crock pot. Add additional veggies if desired (I used a pound of brussels sprouts).