Category Archives: Meat


Lengua en Mojo Criollo (Beef Tongue in Creole Marinade)

Beef Tongue in Creole Marinade (Lengua en Mojo Criollo) | Paleo + Life

Note to my readers: I received a Sous Vide Supreme water oven from the manufacturer in order to develop recipes. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Happy Halloween! This is my second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving, of course, having pride of place in my food-loving heart). Still, I love to see all the neighbor kiddos in their costumes — even if this year, I suspect they will need huge umbrellas! It is a wet and messy day — the sort of day that calls for comfort food.
What does comfort food look like for you?

Though I live in Portland these days, I grew up in Chicago.
The City of Big Shoulders, as my hometown is occasionally known, is simultaneously the most diverse and most separate place I have ever been. Some neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, are complex melting pots; in other areas of town, if it weren’t for the street signs, you might think yourself in Mexico or China.

Part of my childhood was spent in Logan Square. While it has become trendy in recent years, when we lived there, it was a more working-class area, largely populated with Hispanic families. It was there that I first tasted adobo, arroz con gandules, and my beloved mojo criollo. These flavors are emblazoned on my taste buds, and imprinted on my heart: when I want food that feels like home, these are the tastes I mean.

Before we go any further, let’s just put this out there: tongue is one of those foods that freaks people out. I cannot argue with that. I mean, look at this thing:

Lengua | Paleo + Life

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen…

Despite its alien appearance, stay with me. If you are a meat eater, and you buy the Paleo concept, using the whole animal instinctively makes sense. Why on earth would we waste any part of something that was so hard to obtain? Even though in modern times, we are able to purchase meat from the store rather than hunting it down, the old saying “waste not, want not” is still apt.
It helps that tongue is one of the easiest odd bits to use. It’s simple to cook, is inexpensive and tastes just like other muscle meat. Cooked properly, it becomes fall-apart tender and meltingly delicious. When we have it for supper, even my youngest demands a big portion.

I usually make this in a slow cooker, but I recently acquired a water bath oven courtesy of Sous Vide Supreme. Oh, oh, oh. Y’all. I’ve mentioned my love for gadgets before, but this — this is a whole new world. The long, slow, low cooking of the sous vide method is fantastic for tougher cuts of meat like tongue. It also deeply infuses flavors into food like nothing else I’ve tried. Amazing is not too strong a word.

For the sauce, I use a blend of lemon and orange juices to approximate the taste of the sour oranges that are traditional in this dish. It is a fairly close match. Citrusy coriander boosts the flavor further, while smoked pepper, garlic and onion deepen the taste. Cooked in the sous vide, the onions and garlic also hold their shape instead of melting into the sauce as they do in the slow cooker. Quickly crisping the meat in a pan after its long bath adds a delightful texture to this dish.
Serve this on top of a massive salad, with a side of my Cinnamon Pepper Plantains. Try not to lick the plate…but I won’t tell if you do. What’s more comforting than that?

Lengua en Mojo Criollo (Beef Tongue in Creole Marinade)


  • 1 beef tongue, about 3-1/2 lbs.
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 12 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked peppercorns, ground
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 orange, sliced into wedges


  1. Set the temperature on sous vide to 140 degrees.
  2. Wash and rinse the tongue, patting dry with a paper towel. Place into a large sous vide bag.
  3. Add lemon and orange juices, onions, garlic, coriander, peppercorns and salt. Vacuum seal the bag, making sure to use the moist setting.
  4. Place the bag into the oven; cook at 140 degrees for 24 to 48 hours.
  5. Remove the package from the sous vide. (At this point, the dish may be chilled or cooled for several days until ready to serve.)
  6. When ready to serve, pre-heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Open the sealed bag; set the tongue aside. Pour the onion-garlic sauce into a small bowl. Set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, remove the outer covering off of the tongue, then slice the tongue horizontally just past its widest point. Slice each section of the tongue vertically into pieces roughly 1/4" thick.
  8. Sear the meat in the cast iron skillet until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  9. When ready to serve, top slices of meat with the onion garlic sauce; add a wedge of orange to each plate.

Fennel Scented Pulled Pork

Fennel Scented Pork Loin | Paleo + Life

Some days I know are going to be ridiculously hectic before they even start. The baby wakes up on the wrong side of bed and won’t be put down, the youngest girl gets jealous at all the attention we’re paying to the baby and throws a fit, the teenagers thrust paperwork they forgot to have us sign in our faces, and oh by the way, it’s back-to-school night and we two parents need to be at three different schools all at once. These are the days when I need a miracle.

That miracle frequently comes in the form of pulled pork in the slow cooker. When I just can’t even think, I know this will work. Ten minutes of prep time — choose some herbs, slice the onion, and season the meat — yields a delicious main dish. When we finally make it home, it is easy peasy to put together the meal: shred the pork, zap some sweet potatoes in the microwave, quickly add a green salad, and dinner is ready to go.
Quick, fast and in a yesterday hurry, as my mama says.

Fennel Scented Pulled Pork | Paleo + Life

Fennel is a big favorite of mine; its licorice-y flavor goes beautifully with bacon and other fatty meats. While I used the greens from Italian-style bulb fennel, those from bronze fennel are equally tasty, if a bit milder. Of course, if you can’t stand the thought of fennel, try sage or rosemary instead.

Pork loin is a delicious, inexpensive cut of meat that stands up to prolonged cooking and is mild enough that it lets the herbs’ flavor shine. I love its versatility and affordability; with two hungry teens to feed, our food budget can use all the help it can get.
This recipe makes enough for plenty of leftovers. Pulled pork is great on its own the first day, but is even better the next day when the flavors have really settled. Use the meat in salads, lettuce or veggie wraps, and casseroles.

Pulled Pork with Fennel


  • 1 bulb fennel with greens attached
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 pounds pork loin
  • 5-10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground


  1. Wash the fennel and shake it dry. Chop off the greens from one or two stalks (this is roughly two tablespoons of greens); lay them in the bottom of a slow cooker. Reserve remainder of fennel for another use.
  2. Peel onion; slice into rings. Place them atop the fennel greens.
  3. Rinse the pork loin and pat dry with a paper towel. Insert the garlic cloves into the pork loin (use more or fewer cloves according to your taste). Salt and pepper the meat until it is lightly coated with seasonings.
  4. Set the slow cooker to cook for 8-10 hours on low. The meat is done when it falls apart at a touch.
  5. Using two forks, gently separate the pieces of pork into small chunks. Plate and serve.

Salsa Smothered Pork Loin

Salsa Smothered Pork | Paleo + LifeBecause the kiddos are getting ready to head back to school, I have easy meals on the brain. Trying to keep track of who needs to be where, what papers must be signed and returned, and which after school activity has to be attended is pretty much a full-time job. I sometimes joke with my beloved that we need a wife to run our lives, so that I can outsource the boring tasks and just do the fun stuff. Until I find this miracle worker, however, it’s my job to get those things done and feed our crew. When we are busy, simple recipes that only need a few minutes’ effort are sometimes all I can manage. Of course, I want it to be tasty as well.

For this dinner, I needed to make the pork loin extremely mild — my youngest girl hates even the idea of spice — so a simple coating of salt and pepper was all it needed. Keeping the seasoning simple also makes it a cinch to use the leftovers in other dishes.
However, I also wanted some big flavor to accompany this mild meat.

As I have mentioned, I grew up in Chicago, and growing up in Chicago means eating classic Chicago-style foods, like Italian beef sandwiches with giardiniera (a mix of pickled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, celery and hot peppers). It’s full of hearty, tangy flavor and is the only condiment I am not ashamed to eat straight out of the jar. However, I only had a spare 30 minutes, and not the weeks of aging real giardiniera requires. So I took a virtual detour from Little Italy to Pilsen and created a big-flavored salsa instead.

For the salsa, I threw in slices of carrot in a nod to my favorite condiment, along with the more usual peppers, tomatoes, and the like; they stay pleasantly crisp even after days in the fridge. I deliberately left garlic out of this salsa, but if you miss it, just add in a finely minced clove or two.
Coating the cooked meat in the salsa before serving means the outer pieces soak up the spicy flavor, the inner slices stay mild, and everyone is happy. If only it were so easy the rest of the time.

Salsa Smothered Pork Loin


    Pork Loin
  • 5 lbs. pork loin
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Salsa
  • 4 small carrots
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 hot peppers
  • 8 small scallions
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • Salt to taste


    Pork Loin
  1. Remove pork from package; rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper all sides of the meat thoroughly. Place in a slow cooker; cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  2. Salsa
  3. With a food processor set with the slicing blade, slice the carrots. (If you do not have a food processor, a mandoline or sharp knife will work just as well). Place in a medium bowl.
  4. Dice the tomatoes; add to the bowl.
  5. Slice peppers into rounds, and add to the carrot-tomato mixture. Repeat with scallions.
  6. Finely mince the cilantro; you should have roughly 3-4 tablespoons. Add to the mixture and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  7. 20 minutes before serving, remove pork from crock pot and place on platter. Cover with salsa and let sit to meld flavors.

Spiced Summer Burgers

Spiced Summer Burgers | Paleo + LifeSuddenly, I realized that the last three recipes I’ve shared here involved carrots in some fashion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I adore carrots. I always buy the enormous 10 lb. bags at Costco when we do a shopping run and I am trying to grow a batch of these chubby little Parisian carrots* on my front porch right now. However, there is more to my cooking than root veggies. Like these zippy, paleo-friendly burgers, which I made to accompany the Kohlrabi Coleslaw I recently posted.

To my mind, the perfect burger has a lot of flavor — supplied here by cumin and coriander –and just a touch of heat. In most recipes, black pepper provides that spark, but for these burgers, I wanted a flavor that was a bit more complex. Grains of Paradise* are peppery, but hint at other flavors as well; Aleppo pepper* resembles cayenne, but less hot and more deeply flavored. The combination is subtle, but takes these burgers to a new level.

A couple more notes:
I sometimes enjoy grinding my spices by hand, but these days (i.e., four kids later), I have less time for that sort of thing. Instead, I keep a spare coffee grinder that is only used for milling up spices. This grinder* is the one I use; it has lasted for ages.

When we make these, we usually cook them on the grill, but they also work just fine in the oven or on an electric griddle like the George Foreman grill* (does anyone have one of those anymore? When I was a swinging single, I loved mine).

Spiced Summer Burgers

Spiced Summer Burgers


  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grains of paradise
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. In a large bowl, combine the lamb and beef. Using your hands, mix them together thoroughly for at least five minutes. Set aside.
  2. Grind the spice mixture either by hand with a mortar and pestle, or in a dedicated coffee grinder.
  3. Sprinkle approximately half the spice mixture onto the meat; mix in by hand for about 1 minute.
  4. Fold the remaining spice mixture into the meat.
  5. Grill to desired doneness.

* = Affiliate links.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...