Thoughts on Primal/Paleo cooking
There is a recipe behind this post in a way and I thought it was a good fit for this forum, but itís not mine and the dish was so amazing, prepared according to the original directions, I have virtually nothing to add. That said, over the past few days since we prepared this I think this one meal has caused more reflection on my part than any single thing Iíve ever eaten. Iím not sure why, perhaps it was because I was thinking about Markís Mindful Eating post or because we had been to a talk with Eric Ripert the weekend before. I just donít know, but it stuck with me.
Beef Bourguignon is rich flavorful traditional french stew prepared with beef braised in red wine and flavored with garlic, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. The recipes for this dish including the one we followed need at best minimal simple substitution to be Paleo/Primal friendly. For instance this recipe called for canola oil to sear the marinated beef in, we substituted bacon grease and seared it in that, if anything since the recipe later calls for bacon this may have in fact improved it. Later in the recipe Chef Eric calls for adding 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, clearly as a thickening agent for the sauce. There are number of ways to thicken a sauce without using flour, in this case we substituted a few tablespoons of arrowroot powder. The Beef Bourguignon in this recipe was to be served without the pasta or rice many recipes call for almost reflexively. Instead the stew is complemented by a bed of sauteed carrots. The result is a very primal cooking friendly dish requiring nothing more then fairly obvious adaptations and one of the best meals Iíve had all year, if not ever.
Which left me thinking, if this traditional peasant dish from Burgundy passed down for generations is this good and requires almost no adaption to be Paleo friendly what other wonderful dishes are out there and fully ignored by us? For better, and often worse, much of the Paleo community seems to spend a large amount of time trying to recreate dishes that as core elements require very non-Paleo ingredients. I understand the desire to do this, in fact Iíve actively done it; just ask Rachel about my often (she would probably say always) failing pursuit of paleo pancakes. While on occasion, these efforts yield results equal to, or occasionally even superior to, the traditionally prepared grain or sugar laden dish; just as often they fall well short.
This recipe and itís traditional roots have me wondering what wonderful things we could be preparing instead with virtually no complicated substitutions that would be substantially better then any faux pancake ever could be. I think the ancestral health community at large would benefit by spending more time rediscovering wonderful traditional dishes that have nearly been forgotten. Often I think we would find these recipes have been abandoned because they donít conform to the low-fat, highly processed, 30-minutes or less experience our kitchens have become. Yet at the same time they are very much in line with what could be considered an excellent Primal recipe without significant alteration.
Fair notice: I originally posted this to my (and my wonderful girlfriend's) blog but really wanted to have some discussion about it and since the blog is just getting off it's feet it's not really the best place for it and was hoping I could get some feedback here.
Original Recipe: Beef Bourguignon with Carrots by Eric Ripert
Totally agree - in fact a lot of French food works as paleo with carbs being served on the side (i.e. coq a vin, Pot-au-feu, Bouillabaisse). I love to cook but like real recipes rather than trying to recreate something non-paleo. Last night I had cold roast pork, steamed brocolli, gherkins with a french dressing. Tonight chorizo, sheep's cheese and 4 egg omelette with rocket salad.
Better than the frozen pizza I used to eat.
I grew up on traditional cooking, and almost all meals were meat-starch-veggies. So I make those, omit the starch (sometimes we keep white rice or potatoes), and ta-da! I don't do much of the replacing/substituting... mostly because it's too damn much work, although I do like a muffin or a pancake every great once in a while.
Most Asian dishes are completely Paleo/Primal as well once you subtract the rice.
One my favorite Vietnamese comfort foods for example:
Thit Kho Caramelized Braised Pork and Eggs
Bubble and squeak. Traditional British "slap together your leftover veg from a roast dinner" breakfast. Love that stuff!