Category Archives: how to

Beef Jerky

I know I’ve blogged about it before here. But, I recently made more beef jerky. Since I’ve become pregnant I’ve really had a diminished taste for things like salt and sugar. Most potato chips are too salty for me. So everything I make lately has a lot less sugar and salt in it. Now jerky is one of those things that you must have salt for. It preserves the meat. Below is the modified recipe. I ran out of cumin so mine didn’t have any but you should add it because it’s smart. I had smoky paprika instead of regular. I think it makes for a great smoky flavor with out the added chemicals of the liquid smoke.

Meat!

Jerky

1 lb of lean beef

1/2 tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp red pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin (I forgot to get more but it’s good in the mix)

1/8 cup of soy sauce (use fancy tamari for gluten-free)
I’m going to try to play around with different flavors because I think I’d like to offer it for sale. This time around I attempted to run a cost comparison on the meat vs the final product. I think I can produce this at a reasonable rate.

For those that wish to make it themselves above is the recipe I recently used (notice the smaller amounts of salt and soy sauce). I think it gives plenty of great flavor without so much salt. Also no sugar! I don’t understand why all jerky contains sugar, drives me crazy. If you’re looking to save money get a larger lean roast. Partially freeze it, and cut it by hand. You need a pretty steady hand and a very sharp knife. Make sure to trim all the fat.

cut meat and trimmings

I saved my trimming for adding to ground meat or maybe awesome dog treats. Our local HEB sells very thin top round and Milanese style cuts of beef that are perfect for jerky if you don’t want to hand cut it. It does make life easier but you pay more for the precut meat. Mix seasoning well and pour into a zip bag with your meat. Make sure all the pieces are covered with the seasoning, then refrigerate over night.

mmm gooey

mmm gooey

you will soon be delicious

The time varies greatly on how long it takes to full dry. The thickness of the meat, the ambient humidity, and your dehydrator will all play a factor in this. If you check it every 1-2 hours your first time you’ll have a better idea how well your unit runs.

Playing Tetris with raw beef is fun!

The thinnest pieces will be finished at 4 hours the thicker ones at 8. I make sure to rotate the trays to allow for even flow of air every two hours. When I rotate I check the pieces for dryness. I also live in a very humid place so my times maybe longer than yours.

You can buy extra racks for it. It was a reasonable price and highly rated. I have no affiliation with this brand but I definitely would recommend it.

You can buy extra racks for it. It was a reasonable price and highly rated. I have no affiliation with this brand but I definitely would recommend it.

glorious dried meat

For storage we prefer to vacuum seal the meat into snack size bags. In a regular zipper top plastic bag, in our climate, the meat lasts around 2 months. (I found some in the back of the cabinet that had gone bad, so sad) but the vacuum sealed bags lasts longer than that.

I still have yet to find how long that is. The only preservative is salt so there will be a shelf life. But, if you’re stocking up for Armageddon, might I suggest vacuum sealing and then freezing? Otherwise for normal consumption a batch like this is fine in your cabinet until consumed.

T has taken to cutting it up and adding it to the homemade trail mix. Great clean energy all day long!

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Tuesday’s Meals of the Day

For lunch I ate a mess of different things. It was a clean out the fridge sort of meal. I had the chicken and cabbage from last night’s dinner. A Stuffed bell pepper primal and not paleo because of the addition of cheese. One meatball with tomato sauce homemade from the garden. Actually all the vegetables in this meal are home grown!

I snacked on some raw zucchini. Rawr!

Dinner was Tandoori chicken with sweet potatoes (canned and gifted from my lovely friend Sarah) and zucchini. If you are noticing a zucchini trend it’s because we have tons of it the size of small babies coming from our garden. The tandoori was a paste I bought at the store. It doesn’t contain any sugar so I can recommend it to my paleo pals. I used a few spoonfuls to marinate the chicken overnight then added coconut milk and let it slow cook while did Helen in the rain.

Paleo tip #2 – use what’s in season. It’s cheaper, it’s fresher, and better for you. My general rule is that if you are paying much more than $1 a pound, it’s not in season. This of course doesn’t apply to certain veggies. I can never find asparagus or artichokes that cheap. If you can’t find it fresh go frozen. They freeze it in peak freshness so it’s pretty close to being fresh. Canned is okay if you watch the salt content.


A Week of Meals

I have several friends that are new to paleo eating. In honor of them I will be posting my meals for each day. I usually eat twice a day with tons of water in the middle.

This was breakfast:

I had leftover zucchini noodles from meatballs last night so I thought they’d make a good breakfast. I served that with two eggs, some tomatoes from the garden and bacon. I made extra bacon and had a few slices as a snack in between.

This was dinner:

The unfortunate theme of dinner was “oops I burned it!” The cabbage and the chicken are both a little toasty. I had grilled chicken, braised cabbage, and raw zucchini slices. Again all the vegetables are from the garden.

I also had a few raw unsalted cashews, and a glass of kombucha (fermented tea) but that would make for a boring picture so I didn’t take it.

I hope that by posting my daily meals I can help inspire a few of you to try paleo too. It’s really not that hard. One of the biggest suggestions I have right now is to stop trying to find substitutes for your favorite grain food. Don’t look for a paleo bread or muffin. Instead think about making meat and veggies the star. Up there for I mentioned that I use leftover zucchini noodles. I just take a whole zucchini and peel it with a juiliane peeler.


Paleo Enchiladas

I have a very successful garden growing right now.

In it there are some pretty large collard green plants. I had read a recipe somewhere that used collard greens to wrap a fish fillet in. I took that idea a step further and made enchiladas.

I used pulled pork from a previous night. This or this is a good recipe to use for shredded pork. I washed the greens, then removed the hard central vein. My leaves were so large that I used half of one to roll up the meat.

Next time I will double up the greens to add a little more heft to them so they are more like a tortilla. Place the rolls closely together in an oiled baking dish.

Keeping them close helps to ensure your stuffing will stay in.

Then I covered them in mole sauce. It’s a chocolaty Mexican sauce. However, your favorite Mexican enchilada sauce will go well here too.

Then bake the enchiladas uncovered for 30 minutes. The sauce will have cooked the greens and it should be a lovely cohesive dish.

I topped mine with some fresh pico.


Kibbeh part 2

In Wednesday’s post I said I made a variation of this recipe for dinner. If you are interested here is the variation. I’ve made this a few times with tweaks to the seasoning and filling. Essentially it is a meat paste with seasoning, green filling with nuts, and a nut flour crust. The preparation is time consuming so it is not a good week night meal. However, it freezes well so make a bunch and freeze in batches for when you want them. I served this with a coconut milk mint raita. Raita is an Indian sauce used to cool down spicy foods. With a little whipping in a food processor and some xanthan gum the coconut milk thickened up just like yogurt. I added fresh mint for flavor.

I put about 2 lbs of pork loin and 1 lb of chicken thighs into a food processor and blended until it made a paste. I know it sounds gross but when you’re done it won’t be. I added garlic powder, coriander, onion powder, ground ginger, salt, and black pepper. I didn’t measure the seasonings but if I had to guess I’d say about 1tbs of everything then adjust from there. I made a test patty to make sure the meat wasn’t dry or without flavor. With pork loin if there is not enough fat the meat will be dry which is why I added the chicken. You can also add bacon fat or trim fat off another cut of meat. Refrigerate the meat paste for a few hours. This allows the flavors to mingle and the meat to rest.

While that chilled, I sautéed a minced onion with ~4 cloves of minced garlic in some olive oil. When the smell became less pungent and the onions started looking clear I added a frozen block of spinach. I’ve found that cooked spinach is better than fresh because the fresh loses so much volume when in the oven. Cook until the spinach is no longer frozen, then pass a knife thorough the spinach a few times to break any larger leaves apart. Set this to the side in a bowl. Using the same pan, heat some olive oil and brown about a cup of pine nuts. Keep an eye on them because they go from tan to black very fast. When the pine nuts are browned add them to your spinach.

To stuff your kibbeh take a small chunk of meat roll it in a ball then flatten it out to a pancake size patty. In the middle add some spinach mixture being careful to keep it from the sides of your pancake. I keep a bowl of water nearby to rinse my hands in between spinach applications. Fold up like a taco and pinch the sides of the pancake smoothing and rolling out any seams. The seams will open up in cooking if you don’t take care to do this step. When you’re done your meat will look like a foot ball.  You can play around with the size of these but my favorite is about the size of my palm. Continue until all your meat is used up.

In a food processor or blender blend almonds and unsweetened coconut shavings until it resembles a fine meal. If you have coconut/almond flour you can use that too. I like the slightly crunchier texture of making it myself. Set up a bowl with whisked eggs and another with some of your almond coconut mixture. Dip a ball in egg, then roll in the nuts, place on an oiled cookie sheet, and repeat. When all your balls are coated with nuts bake in the oven at 350 for an hour. Give these a try and play around with the ingredients. I make them different every time and they are always very tasty.

 

 


Smoking and Hog

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, I’m sorry. School is keeping me busy and uninspired. Most of what we’ve been eating is recipes I’ve already posted didn’t think you’d like that so just kept quiet. I hope this recipe makes up for it.

Today I’m smoking one of the hams that came from this hog. Since moving to Texas T and I have fallen in love with the great art of smoking meat. It produces tender delicious food from unwanted tough cuts of meat. Now the hog shank was not unwanted, but because it was a wild animal the fat content is low and the muscles are typically much tougher. So the art of smoking on the pit was perfect for this. Everything I read said to let the meat marinate for up to two days to help reduce the gamey taste. Since this was the first time I would be trying a large cut I figured I would do a long marinade.

The recipe I adapted came from Saveur magazine. If you’ve never checked them out I highly recommend it. The recipes are unique and beautifully photographed. I changed up some of the ingredients to what I had on hand, and to make it spicy. It was a recipe they had as a Puerto Rican Christmas dish. Traditionally it uses a whole suckling pig. That sounds like a lot of fun that we might have to try some day.

Pernil Asado

1 cup of fresh orange juice

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup salt

1/8 cup black pepper

1/8 cup red pepper

2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp garlic powder

4lb shank (the recipe called for an 8 lb shoulder there is more than enough marinade for a larger cut than mine)

Mix all the ingredients except the meat. With a small knife cut many small slits into the meat.

Pour marinade over meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Turn the meat twice a day. Marinate for up to two days. If you are using store bought pork let it marinate at least 8 hours.

A smoker has a side box for the charcoal and wood that cooks the meat with indirect heat. You need to first build a pile of charcoal in a corner of the side box. Douse with lighter fluid and wait about two minutes for the fumes to dissipate.

Then light the charcoal. If you don’t wait you’ll get a small fire ball. This is lots of fun, but slightly dangerous. On that note, always use charcoal outside. It creates carbon monoxide while burning. It is odorless and will kill you. It seems like a silly warning but then people make silly decisions sometimes. Let your charcoal burn for about 10 minutes. When it starts to ash over (turn white) then you know it is ready.

You can place your meat directly on the grill rack or use a cookie sheet like we do. I find that it is easier to lift the meat and helps retain some of the moisture with a cookie sheet. You want to make sure to place your meat fat side up. While it cooks the fat will break down and penetrate the meat adding taste and moisture. Check your fire every 20-30 minutes alternating between adding charcoal and wood chunks. The wood chunks are what provide the smoky flavor. Usually we use mesquite, but today I decided to try hickory.

Now crack open a beer and wait. Smoking is a great all day affair that is usually accompanied by friends or family hanging around drinking beer and playing games. Check your thermometer to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. 200-250 is the sweet spot. Too cold and it won’t cook risking food borne pathogens. Too hot and your meat will become tough and dry.

Because I had so much marinade, I reserved it to brush on the meat while it was cooking. Pour your extra marinade in a small pot and heat it on low heat. It obviously had raw meat in it and you don’t really want to be brushing raw meat back on your cooked meat. After about 6 hours, check the doneness larger cut can take up to 8 or 10 hours so plan accordingly. You are looking for easy to pull apart meat. Smoking meat is not a quick thing. It can’t be rushed, and honestly why would you want to rush it? Part of the joy is the wait. If you don’t have that kind of time, cook for the first few hours on the pit then finish it off in the oven where the heat is more direct and consistent. It won’t be too much quicker though.

When it’s done bring it to your local Crossfit Gym opening and share with hungry athletes. Congratulations Clay and Sean on your new endeavor. I wish you two the best of luck!


Wild Hog

My friend Ryan Called me last week and told me he caught a hog and wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping him butcher it. I was so excited! I spent the whole morning of watching videos on how to do this. These videos are amazing and offers great tips. The hog was on ice and already skinned and quartered when he came over so a lot of the hard stuff was already done. But, I still learned a lot and made an enormous mess in the process. These are some pictures of our afternoon of grinding, cutting, and trimming.

Pulling a full rack of ribs from the chest. The dark part is near where the hog was shot which resulted in some bruising.

These are the ribs after trimming and cutting smaller so they’ll fit into vacuum seal bags.

A femur bone that I roasted for stock later.

This is a shoulder roast that we trimmed and cut up into small pieces for sausage. We made a ton of sausage.

Soon to be sausage.

The endless run of sausage. This was before we attached it to the counter with clamps. It is a hand cranking one that really needs to be bolted down. In the end I got out my Kitchenaide grinder too. We had so much meat that it was easier this way.

The hand grinder with the aforementioned clamps.

The I kept the windows open to help keep the kitchen extra cold and we tried to do one-quarter at a time keeping the rest on ice and freezing it when complete to make sure everything stayed at a good temperature. I have to say when we were done it was so nice to just sit by a heater and warm up.

We trimmed up some ribs, hams, loins, and a few chunks of meat for stew or whatever. The rest was ground into sausage.

We ground a lot of meat this day. When you grind meat it is best to freeze it first. The fat and connective tissues will gunk up the grinding plates and it will be terribly difficult to do otherwise. It is also important to save as much fat as you can when trimming to add into the sausage. If your hog is very lean you will want to add in some commercial pork fat. Sausage will taste dry and chalky if you don’t have enough fat in it.  We seasoned four different kinds, a maple kind, a spicy kind, a herb garlic, and an Italian.

Our method for stuffing the sausage was not ideal so we stopped after one batch and saved the rest for the next day when Ryan had a better stuffer. It took us forever to load this sausage but this next picture is from his house and took maybe a minute. Much more efficient.

The kitchen had blood, ice, and small pieces of meat all over the counters and floor when we were done. I felt bad because T had just cleaned the whole house the day before. But When we were done I went through with the bleach and cleaned everything. (Not to mention the cleaning stops I made in the middle to sanitize things.)

Overall it was a great experience that has inspired me to want to learn how to butcher from beginning to end. If you ever get the chance I recommend you say yes.

This is the before shot. Did you know wild pigs were so hairy?