Duck Leg Confit

Last time I roasted a duck, I separated the legs and practically just cooked the crown.  This has always been a dilemma, as the leg always comes out tough when the breast is perfectly cooked. Roast for longer, and the breast meat is dry as.  Confit-ing seems to be the perfect solution.  Besides, anything cooked in (duck) fat sounds delicious to me. 

So, I salted 2 legs of duck, plus the giblets, and kept them in the fridge overnight.

The following day, l confit-ed the legs and the giblets using the fat rendered from the crown, a bit of stock, 3 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, 5 cloves of garlic and a few whole peppercorns. The cooking liquid should be Kept at just below boiling point, at the lowest setting on the hob. I left it there for around two hours while we had the last beer of the new year. This resulted to really tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. Lovely.
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Duck leg is such a delicious meat. So simple and easy to prepare. It takes awhile to cook but the result is just mouth-watering. You can buy duck fat in supermarkets now. The other ingredients easy to find, practically staple. Do your laundry, ironing, or blogging while this is gently simmering in the background. Hardly any effort and you will be greatly rewarded. I’ll have mine wrapped in Paleo Pancakes tomorrow morning for breakfast. How are you go in to serve yours?

Paleo Pancakes

I must admit, being strictly on paleo is quite difficult at times. In my search for paleo alternatives to use on popular dishes and snacks, I stumbled upon sweet potato powder in a chinese shop. What better way to test drive it than to make pancakes 🙂

Here are the stuff I used:

2 cups sweet potato powder
3 cups coconut milk
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients with a whisk until no lumps remain. Pour a quarter cup in a hot pan. Cook for about a minute and flip over. No need to oil or butter the pan as oil from the coconut milk will render out. Note that the texture will be a little chewy and very different from traditional pancakes.

Serve with bacon and honey. Or maple syrup and lemon.
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Paleo Fish Pie

O, the humble fish pie. Comforting, filling, and simply satisfying. On a cold winter’s night, it brings feelings of warmth and homeliness.

In this instance, the classic British dish was given a paleo twist. Still as hearty as the original, but just a tad healthier. 🙂

You will need:

1 kg sweet potato
1 kg skinless white fish (frozen is ok)
250 g smoked haddock/cod
1 can coconut milk (arroy brand is best, personally)
2 × 50g butter
3 pcs bay leaves
2 to 3 tbsps sweet potato flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash the sweet potato and cook in the microwave for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the flesh is soft. No need to peel as it is easy to cut through the skin and scrape off the flesh when cooked. When done, make a sweet potato mash with 50g butter, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk plus half a can of water on the hob. Dunk the bay leaves in and season with salt and pepper. When nearly simmering, place the fish in to gently poach for about 10 minutes. When this is done, take the fish out and just flake with a fork. Take away the bay leaves too. Set aside.
Make a rue by melting 50 g of butter in a separate pan then adding the sweet potato flour in. Mix until it forms into a paste consistency. Transfer this paste into the cooking liquor, heat, and gently stir until just thickened (coating the back of a spoon). Ta da!! Bechamel sauce 😉 Season to taste
Place the flaked fish in an oven dish, pour the sauce over the fish, the spoon the mash on top. Don’t flatten out the top. The uneven surface will create nice little burnt mash that tastes caramel-y.
Enjoy with your choice of veggies.
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Lemongrass Pork Winter Warmer

This one was borne out of the necessity to use the lemongrass that has been in the fridge for about a week. A simple, broth-y dish which will keep you warm on a cold evening. With an Asian twist 😉

Thin strips of pork (1 kilo), free range is best
2 stalks of lemongrass, bashed and tied into knots
Half a bulb of garlic, crushed
1 or 2 cans of coconut milk
Shredded cabbage
Sliced pepper
Mange tout
Salt (or fish sauce) and pepper to taste

Sauté crushed garlic until aromatic. Stir in pork, cook until all pinkness is gone. Pour in coconut milk. In go the lemongrass stalks too. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the veggies, mix in, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (cabbage should still be green-ish). Season to taste.

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Tuna Sweet Potato Burgers

This is one thing I totally made up.  Knowing that fishcakes occasionally have potatoes in them, I reckoned the paleo equivalent will be made with sweet potatoes. See the genius there, u-huh! 😉

Had some leftover uncooked sweet-pots from the supper club and a few canned tuna in the cupboard so I tested my hypothesis. Here’s how it went:

2 large-ish sweet potatoes, grated
3 cans of tuna, drained
3-4 eggs, depending on size
Salt and pepper

Before I start, can I just say, a food processor is a gift from the heavens. Dunno how I survived without it. Grates food in less than a minute!

Moving on, squeeze out some excess water from the sweet-pot and transfer into a microwavable bowl. Zap for about 3-4 minutes to partially cook.

Thereafter, mix in the tuna, eggs, salt and pepper. Form patties. Pan-fry in a little oil, making sure not to move them until they have somehow set (maybe after 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the patties.)

Serve with steamed veg drizzled with sesame oil. Maybe with a bit of lemon or lime. Quick and simple. 😀

 

PS. Forgive the picture quality. They tasted good though!

 

Salt and Pepper Chicken

Since adopting the paleo lifestyle, I have been ravenous most of the time. It requires adequate planning in advance, with enough variety to keep things from heading to boredom-ville. This recipe, if you could even call it that, is simple and easy. All you need is good quality chicken. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of quality ingredients: free-range chicken. If you have that, you can do no wrong. 

I learnt butchering chicken while growing up so I use whole chicken all the time.  You get a variety of textures and flavours from the different cuts. My favourites are thighs and chicken oysters. The alternative is to buy your favourite cuts but as it is free-range, it might cost you and arm and a leg. Best tip is to get a good quality cleaver and get over your fears of butchering. I also include most of the skin now. If you have good quality chicken, you get good quality fats (e.g., omega 3). I should add that crispy chicken skin is food for the gods. It literally is.

Place your cuts in a bowl. Pour in 1 tablespoon of good quality olive oil, salt and lots of pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes, although overnight is better.

Heat a heavy pan and cook the cuts with bones first (legs, back, wings, and thighs if you have not de-boned them). No need to add oil if you left the skin on. Fat will render out and make the skin crispy.  Cover to steam/fry for about 10 minutes.  Add in the boneless bits thereafter.  Turn every now and again for the next 10-15 minutes to make sure they get browned evenly. Drain and sprinkle with smoked sea salt.

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Best hangover food.

Lutik (Spiced Squash & Sweet Potato in Coconut Milk)

In a bid to make vegetables more interesting, I have tapped into my roots for some inspiration.  (For those who do not know, I come from the Philippines – Baz.) 😀

One of my favourites is called lutik, a simple dish of squash in coconut milk. The type of squash normally used is the green-skinned variety, but I reckoned butternut squash will do as well.  This would also make a good paleo dish.  I added a bit of sweet potato for a novel twist, and used dried little shrimp instead of guinamos (shrimp paste – google it!). Here is a list of what I used:

Butternut squash, skinned and cubed, about 1.5 kg
Sweet potato, skinned and cubed, fist-size
Coconut milk, 400mL
2 big handsful of dried little shrimps (from any Oriental shop)
Garlic, 6 cloves, minced
Shallots, 6 bulbs, sliced
Cumin, half a teaspoon
Cayenne pepper and Salt, to taste

Sweat the shallots in a little oil until just transparent, then add the garlic and cook for about a minute.  Add the shrimp, and cook some more until they brown just a bit. Dunk the veggies in and about half a glass of water.  Bring to boil, cover. and let it simmer.

When the squash and potato have just about softened, pour in the coconut milk.  Stir and let simmer until only about half of the liquid remains. Season with cumin, pepper and salt. Taste and re-adjust until you get the right balance.  This will taste a little bit sweet, because of the sweet potato and the other natural sugars in the squash and coco milk.

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If you cannot find the dried little shrimps, you can use normal prawns but add them at the very last minute when you are nearly ready to serve; otherwise they will turn rubbery. And if you love it spicier, add one dried chilli at the simmering stage. Or add some baby spinach leaves near the end to up the vitamin content. Blitz it for a nice hearty soup. Enjoy!

Asian Beef / Pork Mince

Trying to stick to the Paleo diet, I needed to find more interesting recipes before the curse of food boredom ruins my determination.  I had some lemongrass leftover from the trip to the Real Food Festival, so I planned dinner around it. Picked up some shallots, lettuce and beef mince on the way home and got cooking as soon as I got in.  Already had some pork mince in the fridge so I thought I’d use that as well.

Here’s the list of ingredients:
500g beef mince
500g pork mince
3 stalks lemongrass
5 shallots
3 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
as much chilli as you can handle (I used cayenne)

To start, I browned the meat and really broke it up.  Mince has a tendency to clump together if not constantly stirred and tumbled. I normally cook mince until all the water has dried up and the fat renders out. Then I leave it to fry and brown in its own fat, and soak the excess fat away with a paper towel.  [Tip the pan at an angle until the fat gathers at the bottom, then let the paper towel do its work ;)]

While the meat is undergoing the Maillard reaction, chop the lemongrass stalks, garlic and shallots finely. Pretend to cry to add a bit of drama.

Once the meat is a little brown, add all the other ingredients and take off the heat. Adjust fish sauce / chilli / lime to taste. That’s it. Really simple.  Traditionally, dry roasted brown rice is added to the dish for a bit of a crunch. I left this out as this is supposed to be a Paleo dish 😉 You can add nuts if you wish!  Serve on little lettuce leaves and enjoy until satisfied.

[‘Fessing up: I forgot to add mint, so shred it and mix in if you fancy. About a handful will be enough.]