Smoky Bison Chili

Not vegan. Not kosher

Coarse black pepper
Cumin seeds
Smoked salt
Bacon grease
Dried chili peppers
Cinnamon stick
Black cardamom

2 onions
Garlic
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 lb bacon ends
Red palm oil

2 28oz cans tomato sauce
Broth
Chili powder
Cumin powder

2 lbs ground bison

Start with a tadka of whole cumin seed, coarse-ground black pepper, smoked salt, dried chili peppers, a cinnamon stick, and a small black cardamom pod.
Get a big soup pot. Then heat the pot and put the cumin, pepper, and salt in before any fat. Let it heat up dry to start pulling the flavor out, but don’t burn the cumin. You’ll smell it if it starts getting too toasty. Once you feel good about those puppies, drop in a couple tablespoons of bacon grease, enough to coat the bottom of your pan. Now toss in your chili peppers, a sizeable cinnamon stick, and a black cardamom pod (that is Amomum sublatum or A. costatum as opposed to Elettaria cardamomum, green cardamom, both from the ginger family). Black cardamom is dried by fire roasting so it adds an incredible smokiness along with its aromatic flavor. A little goes a long way.

For the chili peppers I used two morita and one arbol and it had a nice spice. You could add more to give it a kick. Dried chilis of any kind will work and you could always sub fresh, but put them in later with the garlic. So let all the spices sit there for a few minutes to get their flavors spread around the hot oil.

Caramelize onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and bacon ends.
While the fat is heating up and accepting all of the essences of your spices, you should be able to get through chopping 2 onions, 4+ cloves of garlic (to your taste), and 4 sweet potatoes that fit nicely in your palm (medium? small?), and the bacon ends. If you mostly cover the onions with the sweet potato chunks you should have enough. If the spices start getting too hot, you can turn the heat off, but while the bacon grease is hot, pour in your onions. Stir a little so the cumin and pepper don’t burn. Then let those sit, according to the instructions inthis recipe.

You can use this time to do the rest of your chopping. Chop the bacon ends (or regular bacon) last, but put it in first, so it can get crispy. If they don’t it’s OK—it’ll still be amazing. Before the onions are done half way, add your garlic, half way or more, add in the sweet potato chunks. The sooner you add them the more carmelized they will get themselves, but garlic will burn sooner than the onions and the sweet potatoes can turn to mush. It’s all a matter of how much you wanna go for those oh so tasty Maillard/acrylamide/or-whatever-it-is bits. Add in the red palm oil here too, to give an earthiness, a little color, and all those vitamins and anitoxidants.

Add the sauce.
Once you’re done with Nom Nom Paleo’s onion carmelizing boot camp and your sweet potatoes are mostly but not all the way done, pour in the tomato sauce and stir it all up. Note that the more vigourously you stir the sweet potatoes during their time in the pot, the more they will break apart and threaten to mush. That may be what you want, as it will thicken the chili, but I went for nice chunks to bite into. Let the sauce go for about a half hour to incorporate and reduce a little. Make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom, you know your burner. The sauce might get a little excited so when you’re happy with the amount of reduction, you’ll probably need a lid. You don’t wanna shoot your sauce all over the stove. Nobody wants to clean that up.

Add in copious amounts of chili powder THAT IS NOT SPICY. Sometimes it is and that would be quite the surprise. Add cumin powder to taste as well. I bulked it up with broth because I was making it for a chili cook-off, but you don’t have to. If you do, please use better broth than I did. Like that dark broth from the roast we made in the crock pot the week before. That would of been so yummy to use. But alas I had already eaten it all for breakfast on a few days. Cereal or oatmeal for breakfast? (We all know better around here.) Bacon and eggs right when you jump out of bed? You should try try homemade broth if either of those sound wrong to you or make you tired. (I love you bacon and will eat you for second breakfast, but wake me up slowly with some bone broth.)

Add the bison.
Oh, right. Your sauce should be ready now. Put in the ground bison and stir to break it up. It’s a beautiful red meat that will cook up quick. Seriously you don’t need to cook it long. It’s scary. But it will be moist and delicious.

Well that’s it for the chili. Pretty easy really. You don’t have to get into the finer points of spices and stuff, you can just toss what you have in there. Go ahead and substitute away. And share if you have your own variation on the spice blend. (Hing. I thought a little asafoetida would be good too.) As always let me know if I’m doing something wrong. Like lying about the time to caramelize onions. Really, why would people make up a number like 5 minutes? Always overestimate, people. And remember that cooked tomato dishes are always better the second day!

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Pain Perdu sans Pain (French Toast without Toast)

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Toastless French Toast
Eggs
Palm oil shortening
Silk vanilla coconut milk

Glaze
Palm oil shortening
Silk vanilla coconut milk
Arrowroot powder
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Heat a ton of the shortening in a pan. You can try using just coconut oil, but the shortening works beautifully. We just discovered this and we’ve gone through half a tub in 2 days.

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Pour a good amount of coconut milk into the eggs. There was this Silk stuff in the house, and I’m not quite sure of its paleo status (it is sweetened with cane sugar), but it’s here and gave a great flavor. You can use canned or homemade coconut milk and vanilla extract. I know it sounds crazy to put this in to scrambled eggs with no toast or powdered sugar on the horizon, but trust me.

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Beat the eggs – a hand mixer works wonders – and get them really frothy; you’re gonna need that to keep them light and yummy.

Pour a thin layer of egg into the thick pool of shortening. Think crêpes here. Light, thin, fluffy. If it hits the side of the pan it may not fry up quite right, but don’t sweat it too much. Thinness and flipping will make it great anyway. It should look something kinda like this:

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When you think the egg has thickened up enough in the bottom, try to flip it over. It’ll probably not flip too well and ooze out everywhere, but that’s just fine as long as it’s thin. If so, it turn out something like this:

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For the glaze, melt some shortening and and stir the coconut milk, arrowroot, and spices. The colder it gets, the more it’ll thicken. You’ll be surprised how much this tastes like french toast. A great Thanksgiving morning breakfast!

Paleo Pork Steaks

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For the pig:
Pork Butt Blade Steaks
Tbsp Coconut Oil
Cap of Apple Cider Vinegar
Paprika (Hungarian)
Cayenne Pepper
Asafoetida
Fenugreek
Mustard Powder
Bay Leaf
Black Pepper
Sea Salt

For the rice:
Basmati rice (White)
Lemon
Sea Salt
Cilantro
Ghee

Start boiling the rice. Any white rice will do. I don’t know what quinoa would taste like with it, but you could try that instead. To keep it strict paleo, you can just skip to the meat!

Mix all the spices in the ratio of the most paprika and cayenne, a decent amount of asafoetida and fenugreek, then crush a generous amount of bay and throw in dashes of salt and pepper. Rub it on the meat or set it aside.

Melt the coconut oil in a skillet. Turn the heat off or add the meat to the pan right away. Keep on low heat and covered. If you haven’t added the spices pour half on. Periodically add just a tad of water to keep the pork steaks moist. When you flip them for the first time add the rest of the spices to the other side. When they’re about halfway done, add the cap of apple cider vinegar. This will help the outside of the meat caramelize.

Fluff the finished rice with a fork. Put a little bit of ghee in the middle to make sure it melts. Add a generous amount of salt (coarse, if you can). Squeeze in fresh lemon or lime. (Do you see where this is going?) Pluck fresh cilantro leaves into the rice and stir all the flavors in, making sure the ghee melts. This tastes just like Chipotle’s rice, only fattier.

Just wait till you eat it with the pork steaks and their grease. SAFA, LC heaven.

The story
My mother-in-law and I made these while caring for Erika after her surgery and I was blown away by how great they turned out. I threw the spice mix together on a whim, flavor associations with pork, and memories of typical pork recipes (those might all be the same intuitive thing). I had happen to find 2 pork steaks (note: only 2 rice-plus-lots of-fat portions) at Giant Eagle for $2.65. Not sure if normal pork chops would work, but take any thin slice of pork and give it a try.

The basmati rice is not a norm. I personally eat white rice once every 10 days or so when eating out, with Chipotle or heavy-protein Chinese, because I’m trying to gain weight. Erika needed a saltine cracker replacement – the “light”, “easy on your stomach” food they say is good for you when you’re not feeling well – as a bridge between drinking homemade chicken broth and eating pork belly. I recently got just meat and rice in a bowl at Chipotle and we discovered how amazing their rice tastes just by itself. This was my recreation of it at home. Now if I can only recreate the walk-in-when-you’re-hungry-and-find-plenty-of-hot-and-ready-to-eat-protein part.

I use Asafoetida powder as an onion substitute because I’m testing out FODMAP-free’s effect on my gut. I happened to come across it in our local co-op and discovered in the description that it was eerily oniony and a essential ingredient in authentic curry. Another of the Twelve Trials in my quest for Indian cooking down. Sometimes you want a lot of fenugreek (another essential curry spice), other times you don’t want much. This was I time I wanted a lot and, man, was it the right decision. This dish could take a generous helping of bay leaf crushed right in. It’ll become softer. Remember Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits? They do it. Bay is edible and delicious this way.