Sunday, November 15, 2015

Venezuelan Paleo Pulled Beef

Years ago I had a roast beef dinner in a crappy cafe in Dublin. It was juicy and delicious, unlike most roast beef I have eaten which is usually overcooked and dry. Since then I had my eye open for a cut of beef that I could cook this way. I noticed it in a butcher shop window in Dublin recently. 'For Pulled Beef' the sign said.

I have had great success with pulled pork shoulder over the last year having read Cooked by Michael Pollan. The trick with pulled pork is to use a tough cut like shoulder and cook it low and slow. This softens up all of the connective tissue in the meat which gives great flavour and moistness to the cooked meat.

So back to the 'Pulled Beef'. This turned out to be brisket. I had a bad experience with brisket last year: a pricey joint that I had to order and which did not cook well. Brisket by the way is the chest of the cow. Cows don't have breast bones, so the brisket muscles have a lot of work to do to support the animal as it stands. For this reason it's a tough cut and ideal for my needs. I was determined to get it right though so I had a bit of a trawl on the internet.

I like Tom Kerridge. He is an English Chef with a Michelin Star who I had seen on Saturday Kitchen. He cooks to excess, so his recipe for a pulled beef sandwich seemed like a good place to start. He cooks the meat on a grid over a pool of beef stock. He covers the whole lot in foil to keep the moisture in. This gives a soft end product without drying during the long cooking time. You can find his full recipe here.

Tom's dish is a sandwich. We mainly eat paleo and although we have some treats at the weekend, bread is almost never on the list. Especially not a white roll as in Kerridge's recipe as nice as it sounds! So I needed to adapt the recipe a bit to make it into a full meal for our family.

One of my coworkers is from Venezuela and when I told him I was cooking brisket he told me about a traditional recipe he used to have when he was younger. It uses skirt steak 'falda' in Spanish, which is another pretty tough cut and I think resembles brisket a bit.

This is the recipe we found together on the web which most matched what he was used to. He mentioned that red peppers were also used, so I added them in.

So this is what I came up with. It was absolutely delicious and will definitely be added our list of weekend favourites.


1.5 kg piece of fresh beef brisket
2 red peppers
1 tsp each of cumin, coriander seed, black pepper, salt, sweet paprika and mustard seeds
2 red peppers
2 onions chopped
500 ml of beef stock


Grind the spices together and rub them well into the surface of the meat. It should be tied by your butcher. Leave the string on and just rub the spices on the outside. Sit the joint on a grid in a roasting tray. Pour the hot stock down the side (don't wash off the spice rub) and cover the whole lot in foil. Seal the edges well. You are trying to keep everything moist in there. If the stock dries up it will burn and your sauce will be ruined.
Put it in a preheated oven at 170 C.
It will need 4 to 6 hours depending on your cut. Mine took 5 hours. After about 3 hours lift the foil (try not to tear it) to see if it has dried out. If it is, top it up with boiling water from the kettle. After 4 hours check the doneness of the meat by removing the foil and trying to pull the meat apart with 2 forks. When it is completely done it should pull apart easily.
When it is nearly done you can get started on the stir fried vegetables which will accompany.
Wash and dry the peppers. Light a gas burner and drop the peppers right on the flame. Use a tongs to rotate them to get the skin blackened. This takes longer than you might think, but it worth being patient with. Once the peppers are blackened wash and peel off the burnt bits. deseed the peppers and roughly chop them.
Next stir fry the copped onions in coconut oil at high temperature. When they are nearly done add the peppers and keep everything moving until fully cooked. The pour the juices and stock from the bottom of the roasting tray into the wok and stir everything up.
Pull the beef apart. Place a nest of it on each plate. Smother with the saucy vegetables. I served this with steamed broccoli too.

Whenever we eat like this we are reminded that paleo is not a struggle.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Crispy pork skin snack for paleo dieters

Get your butcher to give you a piece of pork skin with the fat still on. I get about a square foot, but a smaller piece will work fine. Pork skin should be very cheap. I pay about a euro for mine.

Preheat your oven to about 230C.

Wash and dry the pork skin. Drying it important to get it to crisp up. Lay it fat side down on a chopping board and score the skin deeply all the way from top to bottom. Don't cut all the way through to the board as you want the skin side to face upwards in the oven and a single piece makes this easier. Salt the skin side well and lay it fat side down on a grill pan.

Cook it for about 25 minutes. You need it to crisp up fully, but not burn. If you underdo it the skin can be very tough. It can be hard enough to damage your teeth, so make sure you crisp it all up well.

Once it is done let it cool a little and eat some while it is hot. It is fine cold, but best straight from the oven. It can be reheated in the microwave later.

A lot of lard will render from the skin during cooking. Pour this into a mug when still hot. Allow it to cool and refrigerate. It is perfect for cooking omelettes and frying vegetables.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grilled fresh mackerel with lime salsa and toasted almonds

This makes a nice lunch or light evening meal. No carbs in evidence either unless you are on very low levels and can't eat tomatoes.


2 fillets of fresh mackerel
Juice of 2 limes
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
Chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp Sliced almonds
Salt and pepper


Preheat the grill to its highest setting - 250C in my case. Line a baking tray with foil. Place the washed and dried fillets skin side up on the foil. Season with salt and pepper and place under the grill.
Mix the lime juice and tomatoes in a small serving bowl.
Toast the almond slices in a dry frying pan on a high heat until they start to turn golden.

To serve place a fillet on each plate, sprinkle the almonds over the fish and make a pile of the salsa on the side.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Venison Stew

I was given a leg of venison by my dad. He knows a guy whose son hunts. None of them seem too keen on it, but I am. Have had venison a few times and it is always delicious. Bit pricey and tricky to get, so was very happy with this.

Venison Stew


1.5 kg of venison leg - chopped into chunks
2 Rashers of smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 Parsnip
5 Carrots
3 Tbsp of redcurrant jelly
1 Onion
3 Sticks of Celery
1 Beef stock cube


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Peel and roughly chop the vegetables. Fry them in a little olive oil in a large pot suitable for the oven.
When they have softened remove them from the pot and put aside.
In the same pot fry the bacon until some of the fat starts to come out. Brown the chunks of venison in with the bacon. Return the vegetable mixture to the pot and cover the whole lot with boiling water from the kettle. Add the beef stock cube and make sure it is dissolved.
Bring to the boil and place it in the oven with the lid on.
It will be ready in about 90 minutes. Check the meat is tender before serving.
I serve this with steamed potatoes and turnip.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sort of Baked Ziti

I was a fan of the Sopranos and they always seemed to be eating stuff called Ziti. I looked it up and there are as many recipes as there are Italians it would appear, so here is my take on it.



  • 600g Minced beef
  • 2 Smoked bacon rashers chopped


  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Red pepper chopped small
  • 3 Carrots chopped small
  • 3 Sticks of celery chopped small
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tins of plum tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato puree
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (olive is good, but not extra virgin)

Everything else

  • 200g Cheddar cheese, or enough to cover the dish generously
  • Pasta - I used penne, but anything smallish will do
  • Parmesan to serve


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Fry the beef and bacon until fully coloured. Remove from the pot to make the rest of the sauce.

Make a standard tomato sauce. Usually called Marinara. Mine is like this one, but without added sugar. Cook all of the sauce ingredients except the vinegar, tomatoes and tomato purée on a medium heat until the onion is softened - about 20 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and vinegar and stir. Continue to cook until the carrots are soft.

Cook the pasta in plenty boiling water.
Mix the sauce, meat and pasta and pour into a buttered baking dish.
Cover with lots of cheddar cheese and bake in a 200 degree C oven for about 10 minutes. Until the cheese on top is beginning to brown and is nice and chewey.

I serve this with a rocket salad with toasted pine nuts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Michael Pollan's 'Cooked'

Like everything that I have read by Michael Pollan, Cooked is excellent and thought provoking. It goes through some of the history of cooking and importantly why we still do and don't cook. Some sad trends - watching cooking up, doing cooking down, but some very positive stuff too.

The best thing was when I had finished I felt inspired to make up some recipes of my own. There are 4 recipes in the back, one from each of the main sections of the book, but this book gave me the confidence to try my own stuff out. It's working well so far - well except for the sauerkraut. I don't know if I have the guts to roast a whole pig overnight. Well I do, but my wife might have words with me over that. But a big chunk of meat is getting slowly bbq'ed this summer.

If you like to cook this book is a great addition to your library and it is not just another cook book.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Low Carb Lamb Tagine

This is really just a recipe published by someone else, but I have made a few small changes to make it low carb and simplified it a bit.

Here it is on the website.

So I used lamb pieces from my butcher. 1.5 kg is a huge amount. I think I would use about 1 kg next time.
I did not add the honey or the butter. I don't have a problem with the butter from a diet perspective, but this dish was fatty enough as it was. The Taste recipe involves removing the meat from the sauce at the end and reducing the sauce with the butter. This seems like a nice thing to do, but I did not bother - it looked great as it was. Also I added everything at the start of cooking rather than in stages with the exception of the olives which I threw in at the end and allowed to heat through.

I served it with steamed vegetables and it was delicious. Will definitely be making this again.