Babys First Sous Vide

As with any of life’s beautiful milestones, it’s important to document and share with friends and strangers through the art of blog. Today’s chapter is devoted to sous vide. About five years ago, I had a client asking me if I ever tried to sous vide anything. After saying, “what??” three or four times, he finally spelled it for me. The spelling was less helpful than I imagined, but at least I had something to Google later. Back when my client was starting to sous vide, the circulators were big, taking up a lot of counter space, and were expensive. This type of novelty cooking was totally out of my budget, so I decided to just stick with the Weber grill and my trusty ol crockpot. But, times have changed, my friends. Thanks to Kickstarter funding, genius engineers, savvy app developers as well as inexpensive overseas manufacturing, we have sous vide for the masses. The new style sous vide immersion circulators are much smaller, use a separate water container (like a stock pot) and are full of cool tech. So, I’ve said sous vide 6 times now and haven’t explained what it is. I’ll be brief. Basically, sous vide is a cooking method where food is vacuum sealed and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. Sounds relaxing! I spent a few weeks researching reviews of immersion circulators before I made a purchase decision. You can get a simple, low tech version with 800 watts of heating power and a digital readout for around 80 bucks. The next step up has a bluetooth connection with 900 watts of heating power and is Alexa enabled for around $125. The prices on these change all the time, so pop one in your Amazon cart and keep an eye it. I’m sure there will be crazy Black Friday deals if you give one as a gift (to yourself). Which one did I choose? Well, the Apple/ Telsa styled, techy cool version that kept catching my eye was the Chefsteps Joule. I liked it for the low profile design, 1100 watts of power, the user friendly app that communicates through bluetooth and wifi to your smartphone or even Alexa, it also sports magnet base as well as a clip to use with a variety of containers. Decision made and ordered!

Update… The Joule just arrived today. We were planning a Kitchfix dinner tonight, but I had some organic asparagus in the fridge. Rather than suffer an epic sous vide fail with an expensive cut of steak, I decided to give it a try with the asparagus. I bought some of the BPA-free sous vide vacuum bags on Amazon. It was a kit with 20 reusable bags and a hand pump for less than $20. Decent price and worked great. I added some salt, pepper, fresh garlic and a drizzle of olive oil to the trimmed asparagus before sealing up the bag. I gave Alexa the command for the Joule to cook asparagus and it started humming. Once the Joule was all warmed up as noted by an alert on my phone, I added the bag to the water 180 degree and watched it cook. After 10 min, we had perfectly snappy asparagus. Really, really delicious. This week, will will try out some chicken and maybe a steak. I’m excited!

Update 2… we did organic chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Simply seasoned with lemon pepper and salt. It was some of the most tender, juicy and delicious chicken I’ve ever had. Sous vide success story!

Update 3… we tried a Pre Beef grass-fed filet and a grass-fed top sirloin. I just seasoned with salt and pepper, then did a reverse sear in a cast iron pan. Just like the chicken, the steak was perfectly cooked and so delicious. I’m impressed how well sous vide cooking does. So good, it’s in my regular rotation!!   In the future, I may add a second circulator so I can do meat and veg at the same time. Let me know if you have any sous vide dishes I should try or if you have any questions.

 

Joule Sous Vide
Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Sous Vide Asparagus

 

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Chorizo Super Hash

Door to Door Organics Chicago challenged MePaleo to come up with a new recipe using the delicious ingredients from Door to Door’s online store. With such a great selection of organic food, it is a paleo wonderland and you want to cook with everything! It’s so tough to narrow down the options, hence the challenge. After a great deal of deliberation, we thought comfort food would hit the spot. With Winter just around the corner and brunch at the end of every weekend, a paleo hash recipe sounded perfect. We came up with a spicy little number that is packed with nutrients and full of flavor. Let us know what you think!

PS – get $10 off of your next order at Door to Door Organics Chicago with this exclusive MePaleo coupon code!

Chorizo Super Hash

Chorizo Super Hash

Serves 2-4   Prep 15 min   Cook 60 min

Ingredients
1 lb Chorizo
2 large Sweet Potatoes diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 cups Red Onion diced
1 1/2 cups chopped Kale
2 tbsp Cholula Hot Sauce
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black Pepper
2-4 Eggs
Fresh chopped Cilantro for garnish (optional)

-Preheat Oven to 400
-Lightly brown the chorizo in a pan until crumbly and add to large mixing bowl (grease and all)
-Toss chorizo with potatoes, onions, kale and spices, throughly mixing ingredients together. Pour mixture into casserole dish
-Bake uncovered in oven for 45-50 min
-During the last 5 minutes of baking, pan fry eggs to your liking
-Spoon hash onto plate or bowl, top with fried egg, season with black pepper and cilantro

Enjoy!

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The Perfect Paleo Chip

My ears always perk up when I hear the distinctive crunch of a potato chip. A nice, delicious, salty, crispy, fried potato chip makes a glorious sound. Of all the ‘crappy for you’ things I used to eat, potato chips and pizza are the only foods that I miss and dream about and crave. I have found delicious Paleo substitutes for everything else in the food world, except for chips and pizza. I haven’t had potato chips or a slice of pizza since January… not even a cheat. And that’s probably why I want them so bad right now.

For a quick fix, we have tried all kinds of chip substitutes. For example… Baked kale chips, which taste decent, but have an underwhelming crunch akin to dryish leaves underfoot on a sad Fall day. They are just too light and airy to be satisfying.  My opinion on kale chips goes back and forth. Today, while writing about potato chips, I despise kale chips.

We have also tried baked sweet potato chips, but we just can’t get them crunchy enough. I loves me some sweet potato, no doubt about that. But, our baked sweet potato chips end up being a little burnt and a little soggy at the same time. How is that even possible? A little trick of adding arrowroot powder to absorb the moisture, helped crisp them a little, but not quite enough. They are decent tasting and beat the pathetic kale chip without even trying. I’m starting to sound like a chip snob or a kale hater. AIas, I am both.

Anyway… we did find that plantain chips fried in coconut oil are pretty close to a legitimate chip. Good crunch, satisfying taste, but they are just difficult to cut thin enough during the prep. We tried both green and yellow plantains, and it’s like slicing an extra slimy banana. The inconsistent thickness might be a reflection of my mediocre knife skills, so you could have better luck. Overall the plantain chips were the most suitable replacement for my good ol’ Lays, Ruffles and Pringles. That is, until a couple weeks ago, when casual conversation with our chiropractor brought the obscure taro root into our lives.

Taro root is gods gift to the Paleo chip lover. It is kind of hard to find, but you can get taro root on Amazon if you don’t see it locally.  It’s probably not on your regular grocery list, nor is it something you would randomly pick up to try. Taro looks like something ALF would pass after a late night out. But, behind that rugged exterior, there is beauty within. Taro root is used in Asian cooking and is typically served as a mushy dish. Nothing mushy here, though… we are going for a legit chip.  Check it out below… and listen to the crunch here!

Here is my recipe for the perfect chip:

Start by removing the skin from 2-3 taro roots with a vegetable peeler.

Slice approx 1/16″ or thinner on a mandolin (this gives consistent, quick cuts and makes up for any deficient knife skills)

Lightly coat with olive oil.

Arrange slices side by side on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (they shrink up a little so they can touch). Sprinkle with maldon salt or sea salt.

Bake in preheated oven at 425 for about 10-12 min. Watch them. When they start to brown and the edges curl, they are done.
Let cool to touch and transfer to your favorite snack eating bowl

Enjoy!

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Chuck’s Cooking Chicken and Collard Greens

Embarrassingly, RUN D.M.C. was my only exposure to collard greens until last night.  Why didn’t I try these green leafy delights sooner??  Thank goodness for the random veggies we have been getting in our weekly CSA box or I would still be in the dark.  Rene has really been touting the leafy greens after reading Dr Wahls book, “Minding My Mitochondria”.  So, while Rene was at Yoga, I got busy recreating Hollis Queens in Printers Row.

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I found some pretty decent recipes that gave me some direction on cooking up the greens.  Here is what I went with…

1 tablespoon olive oil
3-5 slices bacon
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 bunch fresh collard greens, sliced into 2-inch strips
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and return to the pan. Add onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt.
Pour in chicken broth, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.

Collard greens are really easy to make and, while they were cooking, I had plenty of time to put together some pan fried chicken as the perfect complement.

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Strazzbarberry Crumble

Our Saturday CSA box came complete with fresh rhubarb and raspberries.  I was especially excited to see the rhubarb this week.  When I was little, my grandparents had rhubarb growing wild in their back yard.  We would each pick a stalk and eat it raw.  The first bite was always a face contorting burst of sourness and bitterness that was startling enough to make you laugh out loud.  The only way to finish it up was to dip each bite in a little bowl of sugar and savor the Summer day.  Remember the Fun Dip “Lik-A-Stix” candy? It was kind like that, but marginally more healthy.

Luckily, we had some organic strawberries getting ripe in the fridge, so it’s time to put these ingredients together!

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Here’s the basic recipe (adapted from a Swiss Paleo recipe):

Preheat oven to 350

The Mix –

2 cups whole organic raspberries

2 cups diced organic strawberries

2 cups diced organic rhubarb

3 tablespoons organic honey

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon organic lemon juice

Mix these delicious ingredients together, eat a huge bite on your last stir, then pour the mixture into a pie pan

ImageThe Crumbly Top –

1/4 cup crushed almonds

1/4 cup crushed walnuts

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons organic honey (agave nectar also works)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

3/4 cup almond flour

Stir the ingredients together in a medium bowl then crumble on top of the fruit mixture.  (You could even cook this topping on its own and have a nice crunchy Paleo snack.)

ImagePut pie tin in oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and smells so good that you can’t stand it anymore.  After you take the tin out of the oven, let the crumble cool a little, but be sure to enjoy the sweet, crunchy goodness while it’s still warm.

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