Summer Slow Cooking

Ancho Chile Pulled Pork Tacos Ancho Chile Pulled Pork Tacos

It's been a hot week here, so I decided throwing a few ingredients in a crockpot sounded like a good call. Plus, making a big ol' pork shoulder feeds us stress-free (and deliciously!) for several days. (See serving suggestions below for a variety of ideas.)

I served up Ancho Chile Pork Tacos with all the fixins since it was "Taco Tuesday", and I am not above cliches. Although our three year old food-critic-in-training, declared "I don't like this" as he jabbed the pork with his polka-dot fork, he then chowed down like a wild beast. So I declared dinner a success and enjoyed a glass of wine. : )

Ancho Chile Pulled Pork
Serves 6+

3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder (also called a Boston Butt)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 (12 oz) bottle gluten-free beer or 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 whole dried ancho chiles, seeds and stem removed or 2 tsp ancho chile powder
2-4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tbs tomato paste (buy the one in the tube for easy resealing)

Trim pork shoulder if desired. Sprinkle cumin and salt on pork.

Pour beer into slow cooker. Tear ancho chiles into 1-2 inch pieces. Add chiles, garlic and tomato paste.

Slow-cook on low for 7-8 hours, turning the pork over half way through if possible. Depending on the size of the pork or if it has a bone, cooking times may vary. Cook until it tears easily with a fork.

Transfer pork to a large bowl. Shred pork with two forks, removing occasional fat blobs, if desired.

Use a ladle to remove the oil layer on top of the sauce. Pour sauce through a strainer and into a small sauce pot. Boil over medium high until the sauce is reduced by half (about 2 cups). Add as much of this sauce to the shredded pork as you like. FYI - we added all the tasty sauce and then served the pork with a slotted spoon.

Serving Suggestions: put pork in...

  • lettuce wraps + avocado + tomatoes + cilantro + onions
  • organic corn tortillas + shredded lettuce or cabbage + tomatoes + cilantro + onions
  • gluten-free buns + slaw
  • more below pic! Pulled Pork Appetizers

  • mini versions of the above for appetizers; see below for mini taco instructions

  • enchiladas with pulled pork + onions + zucchini + bell peppers
  • salad greens + organic corn + tomatoes + bell peppers + salsa

In case you want to know how to make the cute little taco shells...

Heat oven to 400. Use a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter to cut 3 small circles out of a standard sized organic corn tortilla. Brush mini tortillas lightly with oil, and drape over the "wires" of the oven rack. (If they are too stiff to bend naturally, nuke them for 20 seconds.) Cook about 5 minutes or until crisp. Feeling lazy? Buy round organic corn chips and make mini tostadas instead!
Mini Corn Taco Shells

I topped the tacos with shredded radish and cilantro, 'cause it looked so pretty!

All Things Grilled Part 1

Bison Burger with Potato "Bun"

Part 1 of a 3 part series on Grilling!

I love a good burger. There is nothing quite like taking your first bite of a juicy, perfectly cooked burger and having all of the layers and components harmoniously meld together in that one bite. Once you have had that wonderful experience, it is quite disappointing when things (flavors, textures, proportions) don’t seem to work out.

One challenge for gluten-free folks is what to do about a bun. Don’t get me wrong, I love a light, airy, appropriately sized bun with my burger. But sometimes a dense, dry gluten-free bun interferes with the star of the show…the meat! I’ve tried lettuce wraps and grilled portobello mushrooms too, but my quest for a new “bun” continues.

When my brilliant and creative side kick, Constance, mentioned using a thick potato slice as a bun, I couldn’t wait to try the concept of a burger and fries all in one! It was a beautiful thing...I fell in love with burgers all over again.

Grilled Bison Burger
makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground bison (or sub grass-fed beef)
½ cup grated red or white onion ½ tsp garlic salt ¼ tsp lemon pepper cheese slices optional

Turn on grill and set to high heat.

Meanwhile, combine burger ingredients and divide meat evenly into 4 patties.

Reduce heat to medium high once grill temperature reaches 400° F.

Place patties on grill for approximately 3 minutes. Rotate the patties 45° and grill for 2 more minutes if grill marks are desired. Then, flip the burger and cook for 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from grill and allow to rest 3-5 minutes.

Grilled Potato "Bun"

1-2 russet potatoes (nice thick round ones), scrubbed
olive oil or fat of choice (about 1 Tbs)
salt & pepper

Microwave (each) potato 2 minutes.

Slice potatoes crosswise in ½ inch thick slices. (Use the bigger pieces for buns and the smaller pieces for “fries”.)

Drizzle or brush with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Grill potatoes for about 4 minutes, preferably on the cooler side of the grill. Rotate potatoes 45° and grill for 4 more minutes, if grill marks are desired. Flip potatoes and grill another 3-5 minutes, depending how crispy you want them.

Set potato "buns" aside for a few minutes while the burgers rest. Then use the potato slices as a bun to build a tasty burger.

Optional toppings:
* stone ground mustard
* grilled onions (sliced ¼ inch thick and grilled about 10 minutes on medium low, flipping occasionally)
* grilled tomatoes (try a drizzle of oil + balsamic for a tangy treat; grill about 5 minutes on medium low)
* avocado
* arugula
* baby spinach
* grilled or sauteed mushrooms

Bison Burger with Grilled Tomato & Arugula Bison Burger with Grilled Tomato

Grain-free Granola

Grain-free Granola

Since going grain-free, I miss granola. There's something about the crunchy texture followed by a hint of sweetness that is very satisfying to me. To fill that void, I've been meaning to come up with a nut based variety. Then the other day, a funny thing happened...I made a grain-free granola bar and forgot a couple ingredients. It led to a failure of the bar, but got me going on the granola recipe. Yeah!

Serve this tasty treat topped with berries and a side of almond or coconut milk. I prefer using raw nuts whenever possible, but use what you have or prefer.

Makes about 4 cups
1 cup cashew meal or almond meal/flour
3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxmeal
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300°.

Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Pour onto a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Spread into a thin layer. Bake 20 minutes. Stir. Bake 10-15 minutes more. Granola should be dry and lightly browned. Stir again. Turn off oven and leave granola in oven to dry out 10 more minutes. Enjoy with fruit, milk or yogurt. Yum!

Preparation for AI Protocol

As I am planning to start the Paleo AutoImmune Protocol this Monday, I have been making preparations for the big day. As I wise person once told me: "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail"...thanks Shannon!

Getting your frige and pantry ready for a major dietary change is important. Although some might do better going "cold turkey", I've appreciated having this week to whittle down some items and reorganizing the kitchen.

These guides have been extremely helpful:

Dallas & Melissa Hartwig's AI Shopping List

The Paleo Mom

The AutoImmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott

Thanks, I could not have done it without your help.

I've been experimenting in the kitchen a bit this week, to make sure I have the confidence and drive to start the Protocol next week. One real winner was a Paleo-friendly Teriyaki Sauce.
Teriyaki Chicken Tenders with Cauliflower Here's what I did for the Teriyaki Sauce...

Combine the following in a small saucepan:
1 cup 100% pineapple juice (I used a can of chunks and drained the juice)
3/4 cup coconut aminos
1/2 Tbs finely chopped or pressed garlic
1/2 Tbs finely chopped ginger

Simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.

  • You can stop here & cool it for a tasty marinade. Or...

Combine 1 Tbs Red Boat fish sauce* with 2 tsp tapioca or arrowroot starch to make a slurry.
Add slurry to saucepan with other ingredients, stir with a whisk, and simmer 5 minutes more. Cool.

*thanks for the ingredient tip Nom Nom Paleo!