Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jerky & Ghee

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone and congrats to all of my friends who are Raven's fans! Today is the first Super Bowl that I can remember not spent stuffing my face with unhealthy food and drinking beer, but given the Whole 30 I didn't want to put myself amidst so much temptation. Plus, Sunday is my day to prep food for the week and today was no different. On the agenda for today were several things I had never made before - jerky, ghee, and egg muffins - along with, as always, a big meal that would get me through several lunches and dinners this week.

Up first were the egg muffins, Nom Nom Paleo's Prosciutto-Wrapped Mini Frittata Muffins to be exact. These have been on the agenda for some time and I decided that buying a new Silicone muffin pan was just the motivation I needed. Who am I kidding? I just love to buy stuff off of Amazon. Thank you Amazon Prime! If you don't know this about me already, let me clue you in - I like to do RESEARCH before making a decision. Even a simple muffin pan requires research. What I learned during said research was that pans that are not 100% silicone often release a chemical smell at high heat. Yeah, no thanks. So I opted for this 100% silicone muffin pan.

I modified Michelle's recipe to leave out the coconut milk. I also added some leftover chopped sun-dried tomatoes and bacon to the mix because I had them and left off the cherry tomatoes because I didn't have them. Soon enough I had some beautiful mini-frittatas in their own crispy prosciutto shells:

These were meant to be frozen for emergency breakfasts, but I immediately ate two. Oops!

Next up was jerky. Did you know my mom bought me a dehydrator for Christmas? She gets bonus points as a mom for feeding into my love of cooking at Christmas time every year. Some of my favorite cooking items have come from her - my giant stainless pan that I use for braising meats, my Santoku knife, and this year both a crock pot and the dehydrator! Here it is, the kitchen appliance I am determined to conquer:

I also bought myself a jerky gun to go with it. After washing all of the parts I set to making a spice blend for the jerky using s&p and chili, onion, garlic, and ginger powders. I then split it in half and mixed one half with a pound of lean (95/5) grass-fed ground beef and the other half with ground bison since jerky made with leaner meat is less likely to go rancid when stored. The jerky gun came with a few attachments to make both strips and Slim Jim style jerky. Since I wanted to try both, I decided I'd use one for the beef and one for the bison, making them easier for me to identify later.

I loaded the gun with the bison first and set to making strips:

One thing I realized a little too late is that with the strip attachment you really need to push the meat all of the way in yourself to get rid of those air pockets so the jerky comes out in one piece. It did get easier once about half of the meat was gone. Then the beef got loaded in and soon I was ready to dehydrate:

While the jerky was dehydrating at the highest temp possible (160 degrees) I went on to the next task on my list. Ghee is clarified butter, or butter from which the milk solids have been removed. Many paleo folks are fine with using grassfed butter (as am I), but butter isn't technically Whole 30 approved while ghee is and I knew I'd want to use some butter in my turnip puree for dinner tonight so I set about making ghee with a half a pound of the Kerrygold grassfed butter I picked up at Trader Joe's and this recipe from Alton Brown. I got distracted pretty much exactly when I should have been pulling the pan off of the heat so I think I ventured a tiny bit into brown butter territory, but I'm not too concerned. Brown butter makes everything taste better anyway. Possibly the best thing about ghee? It will keep safely at room temp for a long time in its liquid form:

Once that was done, all I had left to make was dinner. On Sundays I like to make a dish, usually something braised or in the crock pot that will give me at least several meals worth of leftovers. This week for some reason I was craving meatloaf. Fine Cooking is one of my favorite cooking magazines and has these really cool "create your own" pages where they teach you the fundamentals of a certain dish, and then let you choose ingredients you have on hand to make a variation that works for you. And in fact they have one for meatloaf. This time I decided to use one of their existing combinations and modified this Double-Mushroom Meatloaf recipe to be paleo friendly by sauteeing the aromatics in bacon fat and leaving out the bread, milk, and ketchup. I also learned that Worcestershire is not paleo-friendly at all, but only after I put it in the mix, oops. I also subbed in 1/2 t of dried ground sage since my store was out of fresh.

While the meatloaves were resting, I quickly whipped up some turnip puree in place of mashed potatoes and put the second pan of braised cabbage I had made yesterday using this awesome recipe (the other pan was for the paleo potluck I went to, details on that in another post!) in the oven to brown. And viola, comfort food at it's paleo best:

By the time I had finished all of that (and potted around at my computer intermittently), 4 hours had passed and my jerky was done:

Surprisingly I like the taste and the texture of the bison strips better, but they're both delicious and the process was relatively easy and non time intensive, which makes me super excited because it's tough to find jerky with neither soy sauce (gluten) nor sugar that also tastes good (and doesn't cost an arm and a leg).  At some point I'm going to tackle fruit and dog treats as well, but for now I'm thrilled to have it just to have a stockpile of jerky on hand for snacking.

And that folks, is how I spent my Super Bowl Sunday. Off to bed - I need to be well rested for my first day of "real" Crossfit tomorrow!!

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