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lengua

17 Nov

beef lenguaShort days are the bane of my existence. I feel like I get fucking anxiety when the sun starts to set. And when I try to make lengua and cook it for 6 hours and I can’t manage to get it done before it’s dark so I can take pictures, then everything doubly feels like the worst. Dramatic much? Shut up. I’ve got like one month till the days start to get longer. I’ll make it. Pretty sure. At least I have the world’s best heater in my apartment. Probably illegal. A little metal box of fire.
pastured beef tongue pastured beef tongueI wanted to smoke this tongue. I told you, I need a little house to rent with a little yard that is just right for a smoker. You’re welcome to come hang out in my mythical backyard and smoke some meat with me, maybe. I hate most everyone. But needless to say, I made this the way I normally make it, which is nothing to be so sad at. But man, everything else is making me sad. Except the prospective name of my soon to happen Christmas party. Samantha is a genius. Or we just have the same stupid sense of humor. But she almost made me choke on my tea. Which isn’t too unusual when I’m messaging with her. Choking on or spitting out food or liquids is pretty much normal. My computer’s gross.
bone brothboiled slow cooked tongue There’s a place in San Antonio that my boss took me to (after making me sweat by being a damn Mexican jerk and not telling me the name for like 3 angst-ridden months) that’s a tortilla factory that also sells barbacoa and lengua. That’s it. They must have vats of cows’ heads that they then shred the meat for one option and shred the tongue for the other. I love San Antonio. I once made a cow’s head. It was glorious. The tongue inside his head was glorious. Here is just a tongue. We can dream together of the next time I can make the whole head, tongue intact.
slow cooked beef tongue lengua skinned beef tongueOnce again, I plead with you to use a good broth. Look at all the damn bones I used. Beef back ribs and pork spareribs. My apartment always smells, as do my clothes and probably my hair. Oops.

lengua

cow’s tongue
bone broth (I don’t care what kind of bones)
1 onion
head of garlic
4 bay leaves
salt

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Put the tongue in an ovenproof pot and mostly cover with broth. It’s okay if it’s not fully covered, plus it’ll kinda float anyway, so don’t get mad at it.

2. Cover and bring to a boil on the stovetop.

3. Meanwhile, cut the onion in half and peel and smash all of the garlic cloves. Add these to the pot. Add in about a tablespoon of salt (assuming your broth isn’t salty).

4. Put the covered pot in the oven and cook for about 6 hours.

5. Remove the tongue from the broth and when it’s cool enough to not burn the crap out of your hand, peel the skin off. It’ll come right off.

6. Shred the tongue with a fork and then if you want, crisp it in a pan. I usually just shred off what I’m going to eat and leave the rest of the tongue intact. Crispy tongue is my favorite, but you certainly can just pile it in a tortilla. Salt it.

Tortillas, pickled onions, cilantro, salsa, radishes, avocado…um yes.

Maybe I need a new cat. A kitten. That’ll cure my ills, don’t you think?

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polish cabbage rolls

6 Nov

paleo golabki polish cabbage rollI can’t call this gołąbki because I felt like I sufficiently interpreted these such that I might get chided by a Pole. Namely, in that I didn’t include rice. Next time I will, I swear (but these are so good I’m not sure I want to change them…). I’ll try to make my grandma proud. I also feel funny because I’m no expert in Polish cuisine – it’s not exactly the most popular ethnic cuisine, with hipsters flocking to little holes-in-the-wall to debate the best pierogi in town. There are actually kind of a few restaurants here, but I haven’t made my way over to them yet. Most of them look kinda crappy. Like, trying to be cool when it’d just be better to be a no frills, oblivious to modern tastes kinda place and have really good, all homemade food. Ugh, that reminds me of a Mexican restaurant nearby that has an ADA-certifited heart-healthy menu or some junk. Stay the hell away from that place. Growing up, my mom used to make gołąbki all the time, but I was a kid and I was picky and I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t Polly-O string cheese. So, I’m kind of starting from scratch here, with nothing much to compare to. I’ve mostly seen these little pigeons (that’s what gołąbki means) with a tomato sauce, but both Polish cookbooks I have seemed to be sauce-ambivalent and said you could serve it with a number of sauces. So, I picked a mushroom sauce because I’ve been in the mood for mushrooms lately. Again, it’s interpreted – I didn’t want to use cream. If you happen to be Polish (or another Eastern European) and make these – what sauce do you like to make for them?
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lebanese beef kebabs

1 May

Man, I need to gripe. I really love a lot of things. Like, spending all this time at the grocery store getting everything you need for a while, only to come home and realize you forgot a key ingredient for one meal you were particularly excited about, oh, just the one that you happen to be about to write a blog post about! And like, trying to dig around in your literal mountain of spice jars, baggies, and all other manner of spice housings to try to find a suitable substitute for the key ingredient you forgot with spices going flying all over the kitchen floor. I also really love things like getting ready to start making lovely spice-substituted kebabs and noticing that your camera is angrily flashing its battery light at you. Then, coming to realize that there happen to only be two skewers when you were positive that there were like 6! Or even 8! And it’s really, really awesome when, because you’re a meat idiot, you really suck at forming ground meat patties and they nearly all crumble and fall through the grill grates.
The one positive thing in my life this weekend was finally, FINALLY, getting enough dirt to fill that f-ing raised bed garden. But I didn’t even have enough time to plant anything. And don’t you even think for a minute that, “well it’s okay Julie, your little seedlings will do okay for another week in their egg cartons”, because I KILLED THEM. I TOLD YOU I WOULD. I HATE MYSELF. I had been growing them outside during the day and then taking them in at night so I wouldn’t really have to harden them. But then we got some snow a couple weeks ago and I took them in and forgot to put them back outside for a few days after. During that indoor time they really started growing, so when I finally brought them back outside they were pretty much Scorching Colorado Sun newbies. Shit.
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corned beef brisket (hash)

24 Mar

You know, I’d felt kinda bad about how untimely this and my last post were in relation to St. Patrick’s Day, but really, corned beef hash is not just for March 17th. Corned beef, perhaps. Add hash? That’s much less holiday specific because it’s really freaking good and corned beef and cabbage is good, but not “I’d order this for brunch any day” good. I’d considered smoking the corned beef, but my god I’d had this hunk of meat hanging over me for a week and I wasn’t about to slave over it for another day.
So, I have a new job that I’ll be starting this coming Monday. I wish I could detail all of the absurdities of my old one. I mean, I’ve mentioned one event. That is a pretty good summation. I suppose I should have created a secret online identity when I started this blog. Then I could tell you all about the nepotism, lying, unfairness, lying, two-facedness, cowardliness, nepotism, and, oh, just some other ridiculum that went on. But I’ll be respectful, because I received so much respect there! Let’s just leave it at, when I announced that I was taking another job, the approximately 90 second conversation ended with the boss saying in a not-wishing-you-luck-at-all kind of way, “Well, good luck to you, then.” No, no, no, good fucking luck to YOU and your failing business! Love, Julie.
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carne asada brava + cumin caramelized onions

5 Mar

Things I really, really, really want for my kitchen but can’t seem to get it together to get: a mandoline and an old-fashioned citrus juicer. Not a new age-y juicer for carrots and greens and like 18 apples per tall glass of raw food cleansing juice…those things are ridiculous. It’s not that squeezing a half of a lime is hard, it’s that I’m OBSESSED with getting every.last.bit.of.juice. out of the damn thing. So I squeeze and I scrape and I moosh around until I’m convinced that there isn’t a single drop left. I just think a citrus juicer might do a speedier job and be just as thorough. Then again… would a new age-y juicer do the best job?!? Doesn’t matter. I can’t back down on my initial position now.
The night before, I made basically the same thing as this, except without the marinade, and using hanger steak. I really wish I’d saved that steak for this blog post. It’s a more interesting cut, and more typical for carne asada. I rode my bike to the grocery store the next morning, hoping I’d find some, but no luck – it’s not usually there anyway. An on-sale strip steak did just fine. Speaking of that grocery store, the past week they had avocados on sale for 3 for $1. I got so many. I think I had like 20 at one point. Or 21, which I guess is more likely. I would think up excuses to go there just to be like “oh, well I’m here, I might as well get some more avocados!…” I made guacamole with I think like 5 or 6 of them for dinner and it was gone by the next afternoon. Mostly singlehandedly. That’s a lot of avocados to eat in the span of less than a day. I impress myself sometimes. And again, woulda been nice to have that citrus juicer.
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chili con carne

31 Jan

I don’t have a lot of strong opinions about chili, not having grown up in a chili-centric place at all. We had white hots, garbage plates, and custard. And my favorite pizza, which I haven’t had in many years and probably wouldn’t be my favorite pizza anymore. Then on to Boston, which yeah, not much chili. Still, I am, after all, a food snob. Pretty snooty in general, but for sure a snoot about food. And you don’t have to have chili running through your veins since childhood to be able to appreciate good chili. Any other snobs wanting to debate that with me? Well you’re wrong.
While the dearth of things like fresh seafood and upstate apples here get me down sometimes, I feel pretty happy to be readily, abundantly, and perhaps bludgeonly able to buy whatever kind of chile I want. They really are a pretty magical ingredient, and apparently a rather large segment of the population here agrees. I also can get bulk dried hibiscus flowers. (What do you do with those besides steep them, anything interesting??) I feel like anything with ancho peppers in it has got to be wonderful (better do them justice). Joe made an ancho pepper and pumpkin mole the other day. The pumpkin had been sitting on the counter for probably since like Thanksgiving. I have no idea. Good thing they’re hardy. Mole was sweet.
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bobotie

15 Dec

On Saturday, as part of my very successfully Christmasy advent activity roster, I went ice skating at the stuffy Denver Country Club for Joe’s company’s Christmas party. During a rip roaring raucous game of broom ball, I fell backward onto my right wrist. Did I forget to mention that I’m not the best skater? The only way I know how to stop is to run into the rink wall. I really had no business trying to play a game on the ice with some rather skilled skaters… In any case, using a knife to chop anything harder than an onion is pretty much horrible. Enter bobotie. Like the best meatloafy dish known to man, and which also includes minimal chopping. It’s an iconic South African dish that is served with this glorious chutney that I kind of cooked to a hard candy because I decided I wanted to take a bath and may or may not have completely forgotten that I was reducing the sauce on the stove top.
I don’t know much at all about South African food. I knew one guy from South Africa and I thought he was the worst person ever. But I like bobotie, so my thoughts on the country are turning a little. Not only is it a curry-spiced hunk of ground meat studded with dried fruit, but it’s topped with an egg custard. If you aren’t as poor as me, you will make this out of lamb. Or even a mixture of beef and lamb. Usually I seem to be able to find ground lamb on sale at my grocery store – the this-is-about-to-go-bad kind of sale. But there was none of that when I went shopping for this. I did get grass-fed ground beef for $3.97/lb. Thought that was decent. This will be so so so so so good with lamb. I love lamb. (PS please get me a microplane for Christmas, thanks God. And Tebow.)
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coda alla vaccinara

21 Nov


Okay, when does it start to get obnoxious with my foreign language recipe titles. But I feel like this one is warranted, as it’s supposedly some sort of time-honored Roman stew. In case you’re wondering and haven’t translate-widgeted it yet, it’s oxtail. My first time making something with an oxtail! I’d seen it fresh before at my little meat market that I go to to get my kitties’ food, but didn’t have anything in mind for it at the time. So I went back this past weekend to get it – never a good idea there, because their stock of odd bits is seemingly unpredictable – but only found it in the freezer. No big deal, except I was a little impatient in letting it defrost fully before starting this recipe. Hey, I’ve got limited daylight hours to get some somewhat decent pictures. The stinkin’ oxtails defrosted quick enough in the pot.
Oxtail is a strange cut of meat. It’s mostly bone and some weird collagen, but it becomes super wonderful and fun to eat after simmering for hours. The end of the tail was my most favorite. The texture is hard to describe, but the bit of collagenmeat on them was delicious, and since the pieces are small you can pick them up with your fingers and they don’t go flying across the table, like some of the larger pieces did a couple times. Whether you try to use just your hands or a fork, those larger pieces are a little unwieldy no matter what.
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ny strip + garlic scape and dill compound butter

14 Jul

Joe and I went to our favorite nearby liquor store to pick up something for the July 4th weekend and came back with a super bonus. The owner shoved some vegetables from Grant Family Farms CSA in our hands as we were leaving because he’d gotten a bunch of extra boxes dropped off and couldn’t possibly use all of the veggies. How cool is that? Get some beer, get some local vegetables. In the box were kale, mesclun greens, spinach, eggs (YESSS), scallions, dill, and garlic scapes. I’d never seen garlic scapes at my grocery store (it’s not the most produce-diverse grocery store, though it is very cheap so god bless it for that) and I was super excited to try them out. Since we had already been set on cooking these NY strip steaks, I thought it’d be fun to make an herb-y butter. Butter on steak is just about the best thing there is, and herbed butter is even better.
We made this dinner the night before hiking Mount Bierstadt. Gotta fuel up pre-hike! I also ate some leftovers the morning of, too… It was a lovely hike, despite our late start. When hiking up high in the mountains you have to make sure that you start super early, otherwise you run into weather problems. Thunderstorms happen like clockwork around late morning/early afternoon and the last thing you want is to get caught in a nasty storm so high up and exposed. But despite knowing all of this, we still decided to sleep in a little bit – it was luxurious. I had originally thought to try and hike over to Sawtooth and then back down to the trailhead a different way, but we decided against it both because of weather concerns and because my stinkin’ legs were so tired from my workout the day before. D’oh. But boy was it wonderful to be up in the mountains. I might love the smells the most. And the wildflowers. And the views. And the pikas. And eating trail food. EVERYTHING. And running down the mountain. And not being able to move the next day because running down several thousand feet is hard.
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herbed top sirloin with sautéed radishes

20 May

 So I’ve finally gotten my garden planned for the summer. I had initially wanted to build a raised-bed garden. The soil in Denver is laughably hard. Really, it’s like you have a cement yard. Not being interested in getting a rototiller when I’m just renting my house, I thought a raised bed was the best option. Then, when I was at Home Depot all set to buy the wood, I thought again and realized that I was doing the same thing – investing in the property. And if I decided to deconstruct the raised beds when we moved, then I’d have to replant grass where they were. My landlords aren’t interested in paying me to improve the value of the house and so I’m not going to do it. So, I decided to buy pots. That’s what I used to use back in Boston. I had to leave them all on the patio with my plants still in them when I moved – no room. So sad! I hope the new tenants there enjoyed all of my tomatoes! Though it was pretty late to start, I planted seeds in two egg carton pallets. Part of what I’m planting are a whole bunch of herbs in a goal to have a more complete herb garden. I hate buying herbs from the grocery store. I guess it’s okay for when you need a large amount for pesto or something, but for a recipe like this herbed steak, I don’t want to have to buy them. Having all sorts of herbs at your disposal will also make it easier to make a great last minute dinner.
I’m also growing radishes (my first seedlings to pop up!) and I’m super excited because these sautéed ones are a whole new way of eating them for me and they were super good. I kind of feel like radishes easily get relegated to garnish or filler status. But I’ve been eying lots of fun recipes with radishes in them since spring recipes started coming out this year. Sautéing and roasting are the two options that appealed the most to me, partly because it’s still not warm and summery out and I’m still easing into salad weather.
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ridiculous burgers

3 May

…or Meat Lovers’ burgers. But that sounds too Pizza Hut or something. But I suppose they are kind of Pizza Hutty. They’re chock full of salty, dried meats, garlic, and parsley and they’re totally awesome. I even topped them with freshly roasted tomatoes and put them on a bed of arugula so they’re just that much more like pizza. I didn’t even think about it’s pizza-ness at the time. I was probably too excited at the thought of eating such a conventionally decadent and taboo meal. Pepperoni, bacon, prosciutto, and ground beef. All in the same delicious burger. I do want to encourage you to get quality meats though. Most of the processed meats you’ll find in the grocery store are pretty nasty. If you can, get some uncured, nitrate and nitrite-free stuff. I think most places are carrying stuff like that now, even if you don’t have a Whole Foods-type store near you.
You know that burgers are my go-to simple weeknight (or lazy weekend) meal. But I still get a little bored with them sometimes. Enter Rachael Ray. She’s real unapologetic about liking burgers; each month she features a different, fancy burger recipe in her magazine and she has a whole section on her site just for various burger recipes. I’ve tried some of them, but I still revert to the usual most times. But I decided to give the latest one a whirl, because it sounded so darn good. And it was.
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mini spanish burgers with manchego + garlic aioli

21 Mar

My tapas parties in the past have become something of legend, amongst Joe and me. They weren’t really parties, because we never thought to invite anyone, but still. I’d spend most of the day make tapa after tapa – patatas bravas, chicken and ham croquettes, roasted eggplant dip, potato and leek tortilla, honey almond cakes…. it was an ordeal. A wonderfully delicious ordeal! I keep meaning to have another one, and to actually invite some friends over. But until that time, I’ve settled for less extravagant tapas dinners. This time, the focus was these little, easy mini burgers topped with a few slices of aged manchego cheese and some homemade garlic aioli. I also made some quick roasted asparagus and sautéed mushrooms.

Making aioli or homemade mayo can be a trialing event. I don’t make it very often, so I’m always a little out of practice when I set out to make it. This time was no exception. I actually thought it hadn’t emulsified and gave up all hope, but when I looked at it a bit later saw that it had mysteriously thickened. Hmm. Works for me! If you’ve never made aioli or mayo before, you’re in for a treat. It’s so much better than store bought mayonnaise. Hopefully you won’t have trouble getting the emulsification, but if you do, there are ways to save it. I’ve read a few different ways, but the one that’s worked for me is to whisk another room temperature egg yolk, then slowly add the broken mayo to it. I’ve also found that a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachments is better than a blender or food processor. (I initially forgot that and used a blender, which was why I think it didn’t properly emulsify at first.) You can also hand whisk!


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sweet potato and sausage shepherd’s pie

14 Mar

It being almost St. Patrick’s Day, I’m feeling the urge to make some sort of representative dish. I will certainly make corned beef and cabbage on Thursday, but since I’m not corning my own beef, I don’t think that recipe is really blog worthy – “Go to the grocery store, buy some corned beef, cook in a large pot…” I’ve already posted my Colcannon recipe, which I suspect I’ll make this week too. So I thought, well, Shepherd’s Pie is decently Irish enough. I think most people associate England with it, but those Irish make it too. It can also be called Cottage Pie. And since it’s just a dish of meat and potatoes, the variations are endless!


I originally meant to make this even more interesting by adding butternut squash in the potato mash, but when I started to get all of my ingredients together on the counter, I noticed that my butternut squash that had been waiting to be used had gotten soft and wrinkled. And so, rather than having a kitchen meltdown (which I seem to be apt to do), I said, well that’s just fine, the sweet potatoes will be wonderful on their own. Had I had a kitchen meltdown (because I was really looking forward to using butternut squash in this recipe), I think I would have been excused this time. I’m training for a half marathon that’s coming up on April 10th, and I had run 11 miles that afternoon and was pretty hungry for dinner. And since it had been declared, unbeknownst to me, Household Nap Time at around 4:30, I had to patiently wait to go to the grocery store until the two kitties and Joe woke up from their cuddlefest on the couch. (Joe had said he wanted to come to the grocer’s with me – I am capable of doing it myself normally). So around 6:30 we finally ventured out and got our ingredients. So this meant that dinner was ready at almost 10:00. Ugh. I was pretty ready to eat.



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chimichurri beef lettuce wraps

8 Mar

This is kind of a lazy day recipe. Well, meant to spice up a lazy day recipe. We’ve all got those, “ugh, what the heck am I going to make” dinners. For me it usually ends up as burgers with bacon and sweet potato fries. Now, I know that’s nothing to gripe about, but sometimes I just need something a little different. I thought making a chimichurri sauce would be fun, and heck, instead of burgers, how about lettuce wraps? I love lettuce wraps.


There are a million and one recipes for chimichurri, and I’m by no means attached to one. But basically, it’s just parsley, garlic, oil, and vinegar. You can take it from there. I added in onion this time (a bit too much actually), and red pepper flakes are a must. Paprika is a great spice to add and you can also add in cilantro, but be aware that some people find this blasphemous, as it’s not traditional. Pff, whatever. Try experimenting with the level of vinegar. That’s certainly the most overpowering aspect of chimichurri. I start on the low side and add little bits at a time until it’s the right strength.


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pot roast

31 Jan


Pot roast, that all-American of American foods. Never before had it. Pretty darn good, gotta say. It’s similar to beef stew, I guess, but still, I needed to make it. We just finished up a weekend where the high temp on Friday almost reached 70 degrees. Now we’ve gone in the opposite direction and tomorrow will be a high of like 0 degrees. It seemed fitting to start the quick decline with a warming, wintery food. Roasts like this are also a great way to wrap up a Sunday. They don’t require a whole lot of preparation, and the cooking time lends itself well to getting little chores done around the house.

If you’re really on top of the ball, you can do this roast in a slow cooker. It’s so nice to start it first thing in the morning and have dinner ready whenever you’re hungry. I think I’ll probably do this next time I make this recipe. Or, start it the night before and have a great breakfast! The veggies in this recipe are really versatile. I improvised a little based on what was available at the grocery store. What I’d stick to is root vegetables, however. This way you can ensure more even cooking. If you want to use softer veggies, you’ll have to add them in at a later time, unless you’re using a slow cooker where the everything will kind of end up the same texture anyway. Some root vegetables that would also be great are rutabagas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, kohlrabi, etc. Oh, and winter squash would be great! I wouldn’t recommend beets, unless you’re going to cook this for Valentine’s Day…

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mint and chipotle meatballs + garlic zucchini

22 Apr

Wondering what you should do with all those extra chipotles in adobo sauce from making the Chipotle Chicken? Well here you go! I’ve been itching to use mint, as it’s kind of the unofficial (or official, maybe, I don’t know!) herb of spring. I bought myself a cute little windowsill pot of mint and I’ve been dutifully watering it in anticipation of just such a dish as this. Smoky, spicy chipotle peppers contrast with that wonderful fresh taste of mint. I didn’t exactly have the amount that the original recipe called for, because I didn’t have the heart to strip the little burgeoning plant of all of its leaves, but the amount still did the trick. Feel free to use the amount I did for any mint-phobes you might have living in your house. You can definitely taste it, but it’s subtle so you might not put your finger on it if you didn’t know it was in there.

Zucchini is a vegetable that is another great “hello, warm weather” ingredient. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now and it’s so versatile. Usually, though, I just cut it in thin medallions and stir fry with a little salt and pepper. Then, when it’s grill season, I cut it in half lengthwise and grill to perfection. This recipe was a nice deviation. Little zucchini chunks simmered in a garlicky sauce.


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colcannon

17 Jan

paleo colcannon

This may not sound spectacular, but it is! I first made this for a Saint Patrick’s Day feast years ago, and I’ve been hooked since. It’s totally unattractive and just looks like a big lump of food when you serve it, but don’t let that dismay you. I have a hard time not going back for seconds. In fact, I always do. Isn’t it nice to have an all-in-one meal sometimes?

Traditionally, the colcannon is a vegetable only dish and is served alongside a meat main course. I’ve just made it a quick weeknight meal. Well, quick-ish. The chopping is kinda on the hefty side. Originally, this is (obviously) a potato based dish, but subbing cauliflower is just as good. You can also use a couple shallots or an onion instead of leeks, if you have them.

paleo colcannon

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