hi.: fish disaster...

FYI: please don’t put waterlogged fish into a pan full of hot bacon fat, as bad things happen when you do so.

If you do put waterlogged fish into a pan full of hot bacon fat and bad things end up happening, please deny the flames oxygen; cover them with a metal bowl (preferable) or bury them in salt (less preferable).

Side note: you can’t pan-fry not-commercially-frozen fish. Freezing in a standard home-use freezer fucks up the cell texture, making fish a) mushy and waterlogged and b) really only good for poaching.


I was craving fish last night…decided today i would have it. i wanted to get some tuna carpaccio for lunch, but the place i went to was out. remembered i had fish in my freezer, so decided i would attempt to make that for dinner instead.

checked hulk’s blog. watched the serious eats

How Swole Foods spent its weekend. Recipes and step-by-step guidelines coming post-haste.

3 tiers of meat, bacon and caramelized onion jam and toasted pine nut filling, sweet potatoes (pushed through a tamis and mashed with chile- and sage-infused cream)… and more bacon.
Happy birthday Sam! We love you.

How Swole Foods spent its weekend. Recipes and step-by-step guidelines coming post-haste.


3 tiers of meat, bacon and caramelized onion jam and toasted pine nut filling, sweet potatoes (pushed through a tamis and mashed with chile- and sage-infused cream)… and more bacon.

Happy birthday Sam! We love you.

paleopolice said: Hey Rupa! I have a couple (probably stupid) questions for you on the pork chili verde recipe...
1. For the rub on the roast, do you use a decent amount of kosher salt like 1tbsp or more? Or do you prefer to add the majority of salt later in the process, after blending?
2. I've never used tomatillos before -- I'm assuming you peel off the wispy outer layer, but do you prep them in any other way before adding to the pot?
As always, thanks for your help and advice!

Hey! I’m really glad you liked the chili verde. Your (not stupid!) questions, answered below:

1) When I’m seasoning something pre-browning, I like to be pretty generous — but not freakishly generous — with the amount of salt. It’s not quite payday Friday making it rain; think, like, making it rain on the Wednesday after payday. So enough for the meat, but not enough for a giant pot of stew.

The reason you do that — salting well immediately before browning gets you a nice hard sear; it’s definitely more of a texture issue than a flavor issue. Also, for long-cooked stews and braises, it’s better to do your major seasoning at the end; as liquid evaporates, there’s a good chance that what was the right amount of salt at the beginning turns into way too much by the end.

2) Tomatillos are a distant relative of the tomato; they’re actually more closely related to the gooseberry. Peel off the papery husks before cooking, and wash off the slightly sticky outer layer, and you’re good to go. They also make an excellent salsa — one of my favorite scrambled egg condiments — if you char them in a heavy skillet (or on a grill, or under the broiler) with onions, jalapeno, and garlic, then blend with a handful of fresh cilantro and an (optional) avocado.

Thanks for the questions!


Welcome new followers!

Everyone who came here via paleopolice — hi and welcome to Swole Foods!

There’s been a slight break in posting while we prepare for Swole Foods 2.0, the video series: please stay tuned for something fairly exciting.


Pork Chili Verde

1 5ish pound pork shoulder (sometimes labeled Boston butt), ideally bone-in
big pinch each cumin and fennel seeds (ground is fine, use like 1/2 teaspoon each)
10-15 tomatillos (tomatillos look like this)
1 large onion, quartered
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3-5 jalapenos, stems removed but left whole
2 limes
1 bunch cilantro
For serving: diced avocado, sliced radish, lime wedges

Preheat oven to 325. In a Dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of oil over high heat. Pat the pork dry and season all over with salt, pepper, cumin, and fennel. Brown on all sides until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side. Leave the pork in the pan, fat side up. Scatter tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos around the sides, and toss them around so they get some pork fat on them. Squeeze two limes over the whole thing. Cover and pop in the oven for 2-3 hours, till the meat is ultra-tender and falls apart when you poke it with tongs.

Take the meat out and put it on a plate. Grab the cilantro leaves in one hand and the stems in the other and twist to separate. Add the leaves to the pot and discard the stems.

Now. If you have an immersion blender, use that to blend the vegetables together. If you have a regular blender, blend the vegetables VERY CAREFULLY, in batches, only filling the carafe 1/3 full and holding the blender lid down with a pot mitt or kitchen towel.

Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Thin with water if desired, but the texture should be about right. Shred the pork and return it to the pot; let it heat through. Serve with diced avocado, sliced radishes, and lime wedges on the side.

shirtsofffortime said: hulk. substituting almond flour for regular flour in various recipes. is the conversion 1:1? or do you use less almond flour for the same amount of regular flour?

Hey, so basically, the short answer is: it depends.

Flour is used in recipes usually for one of 4 reasons: 1) for structure and gluten development, as in baking; 2) for thickening sauces and stews; 3) in order to help breadings adhere; 4) for texture.

So. For 1), it’s hard to make a direct conversion. Because of the way flour and gluten behave, attempts to swap out almond or other GF flours basically lead to dense, leaden baked goods. So most gluten-free baking relies on a combination of sweet rice flour or tapioca flour and then commercially available thickeners — xanthan gum, etc, to provide structure. This, incidentally, is why most gluten-free baking sucks. (admit it, you know it’s true)

1a) Which is also why I’m loath to suggest a direct substitution. If you’re really hell-bent on letter-not-spirit paleo baking, there are people who have actually developed recipes for this purpose, and I’d honestly say your best bet is to take advantage of someone else having done the legwork.

For 2) your best bet for thickening is to hit sauces at the very end with a slurry of stirred-together arrowroot starch and water, then cook till they turn shiny and glossy. For gravies, you can use arrowroot starch 1:1 where you’d use flour.

3) When you bread something, classically you coat it first in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs. Here, what the flour’s doing is creating essentially a craggy surface for the egg + breadcrumbs to adhere to — like scuffing up the soles of dress shoes before you try to walk with them. Arrowroot starch is fine here; almond flour or ground toasted unsweetened coconut would make an excellent substitute for breadcrumbs.

4) When meatball or meatloaf recipes call for bread, again, they’re trying to use gluten structure to their advantage — breadcrumbs or milk-soaked bread help bind the mixture while not weighing it down. Here’s another instance where almond flour isn’t ideal. My way of dealing with this is sort of taking a cue from Spanish charcuterie, where loose sausages are often bound with cooked-down onions instead of grains. If I’m making meatballs, I’ll bind them with approximately 1 cup of melted (not caramelized, just cooked down over low heat until translucent) onions for each slice of bread I’d normally use.

Rambling? Yes. Useful? Hopefully.

paleopolice said: Loved the write up about CSAs. Through weird coincidence, I just joined one last Wednesday with my first delivery coming next Thursday. We're spoiled here in California with a good growing season, so the boxes look pretty good from the last few deliveries (per the farmer's website). I'm sure soon enough I'll be begging you for advice what the heck to do with some odd vegetable. :)

Nice! I’m jealous of your growing season. Keep me posted!

CSAs and whether to join them

Bendy asked me about joining a CSA. My email to her is below, with a couple edits in brackets:

The upsides [to CSA membership — for more about CSAs read here] are as follows:

  1. You ALWAYS have vegetables in the house.
  2. It forces you to cook at home (should we get takeout — nope, have to cook all that chard).
  3. If your household consumes a large quantity of food then it splits up your carrying into segments (CSA pickup, then x, y, z) and lessens the others. [less relevant to non-urban-dwellers, but it’s a big deal in NYC]
  4. The amount to cost ratio is significantly better than at the Greenmarket [and, I’m assuming, most farmers’ markets]. Produce quality is approximately the same — depending on your farm, some things are better and some aren’t, but quality/cost is always better.
  5. The diversity of what you’re given every week basically forces you out of any cooking rut you happen to be in. Which is mostly positive, unless you’re like me and you just end up roasting everything.

Here are the downsides:

  1. You are at the mercy of the growing season to a much larger extent than you are when shopping at the Greenmarket. For example this year was all chiles all the time at our farm. No big deal for us; we like chiles. A previous year was turnip-tastic and like… not so much. Tomatoes were terrible last year; apples weren’t great this year. You’re assuming risk, essentially.
  2. Amounts are sometimes tricky. There will be maybe ONE pickling cucumber which is not enough to bother pickling, or something like that.
  3. Depending on your CSA, there will be something you don’t like and there will be in your eyes far too much of it. Mine is green peppers; my friend’s is fava beans.
  4. If your schedule is at all irregular, that can be frustrating. It helps to know at least one other person at the CSA to coordinate pickups with in case one of you is out of town. I think I have 2 friends in my CSA and another living nearby.
  5. If you are paleo, it is significantly harder than otherwise to get rid of all the vegetables in your house before the next pickup. Before I ate paleo, Wednesday night dinners were inevitably “Liberal Arts College Dinner Party Pasta” — aka very earnest whole wheat pasta with every vegetable in the house sort of half-assedly thrown in just to get them out of the fridge. Though I suppose you could probably do that with frittatas, but I have a visceral aversion to frittatas so that never crossed my mind until right now.

We have been members of [our] CSA for… 4 years now? We get fruit/vegetables/eggs. It comes out to a weekly food expenditure of approximately $37 or so, and then supplemented with meat/milk/coffee. Usually the fruit is not enough for [Mr. Hulk] and usually there are things I want from the Greenmarket that didn’t come that week, so I probably spend another $10-20 a week in produce.  We decided not to do the winter CSA this year because it was so root-vegetable-and-apple-cider heavy that it wouldn’t work for me, and we were strangely out of town for all of the monthly pickups.

I am not a member of a meat CSA because the amounts don’t work for our household. Most everything comes in like 3/4lb increments, which is enough for one of us at dinner, so meat CSA would mean making at least 2 separate meats per night, which is too much to ask at 11 when I get home from the gym.

We were members of Port Clyde Fresh Catch last year (for wild-caught Maine shrimp) and I think I want to do that again, because that was AWESOME. ($6/lb, cleaned and frozen in 1lb packs, monthly pickup in Williamsburg over by Marlow and Daughters, delicious) but I think they shortened the season this year so I’m not sure what’s up there.

Speaking of which, it’s gorgeous out, which means I need to get to the Greenmarket post-haste before it gets so crowded that Hulk has to cut a bitch.


free-form-deactivated20111228 said: Hey there, Freeman here again. My meat CSA gave me two stewing hens in my last pickup. Any ideas on what to do with these little guys? (Yes, that's what she said.)

I once made the mistake of roasting a stewing hen. It was sufficiently old and had sufficiently intense musculature that when it came out of the oven it had its legs at >90 degree angles above its head, like it was being mugged. It was almost inedibly tough but unbelievably flavorful.

Which is to say you’re going to want to braise it. Cut it up into parts (here’s a step by step for how), brown it, take it out of the pan, throw some carrots/celery/garlic/onions in there, cook those till they soften, then put the chicken on top, add in liquid (water, stock, wine, canned tomatoes, whatever) till it comes halfway up the sides of the meat, cover, and put in a 300ish oven for like 3 or so hours, till it’s tender.

free-form-deactivated20111228 said: Almighty Hulk,

I was wondering what the best method is for reheating a roast chicken--or any meat for that matter--without drying it out?


Short answer — the microwave is surprisingly good at reheating meat without altering moisture levels. Wrap in slightly dampened paper towels (this has the dual effect of adding a little more steam and protecting your microwave from meat explosions) and hit it in 30-second increments.

I don’t have a microwave, and like my food at room temperature anyway, but in restaurants people would splash meat with liquid (water, drippings, gravy, whatever), wrap it in romaine to keep some moisture in, and flash it in a super-hot oven for a couple minutes. Which is more trouble than its worth if you’re not keeping a hot oven going for other reasons anyway.