Spicy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

PotRoastby Karen Frazier

I tend to cook fairly seasonally. In the spring, summer, and early fall, I go to the local farmers market to pick out beautiful locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs and then plan my meals based on whatever I bring home. In the late fall, winter, and early spring our local farmers market closes, and I am left with what I can find in grocery store’s organic section or, occasionally, what I can pick up at the year-round farmers market in Olympia.

Cooking in this way also follows my natural appetites. In the summer, my meals are lighter with fresher flavors and lots of greens. As summer fades, however, I tend to cook heartier foods with more warming, deeper flavors. I also cook lots of root vegetables, because that’s what is available.

Pot roast is the quintessential fall/winter meal. It features an affordable and fatty cut of meat and flavorful root vegetables. Because the fatty cuts you use for pot roast perform best under low, slow, and moist cooking conditions, the slow cooker is the ideal vehicle for a tasty pot roast.

I’m a big fan of browning meat and vegetables before putting them in the slow cooker. This just adds an extra depth of flavor. However, if you don’t feel like doing any browning, then just toss everything in the slow cooker raw. It will still be pretty darn tasty.

Spicy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

  • 4 tablespoons fat, divided (I used rendered bacon grease for this one for a little bit of additional smoky flavor)
  • 1 organic onion, sliced
  • 4 organic garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 three to four pound grass fed chuck roast
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine (or beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup homemade beef bone broth
  • 1 teaspoon organic garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated organic horseradish root (or more to taste), divided
  • 2 cups organic whole baby carrots
  • 2 bulbs organic celeriac, peeled and cut into cubes
  1. In a large saute pan, heat two tablespoons of the fat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, seven to eight minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Put the onions and garlic in the slow cooker and return the sauté pan to the heat. Add the remaining two tablespoons of fat.
  4. Season the chuck roast liberally with salt and pepper. Put it in the hot fat and cook it, searing it on all sides, four to five minutes per side. Put the chuck roast in the slow cooker with the onions.
  5. Return the sauté pan to the heat. Add the wine and stir, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with the side of a spoon. Add the beef stock and whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard seed, and freshly grated horseradish. Simmer for about three minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  6. Put the baby carrots and celeriac in the slow cooker with the roast and onions. Pour the wine mixture over the top.
  7. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the meat is tender, eight to ten hours on low or four to five hours on high.
  8. Grate in the remaining one tablespoon of horseradish root just before serving.
  9. Optional: If you wish to turn the sauce into gravy, then ladle out the liquid from the slow cooker. Put it in a saucepan and whisk in 1/4 cup of arrowroot powder mixed with 1/4 beef stock. This will add about 28 grams of carbs to the entire recipe, so if you are eating low-carb paleo, you may wish to skip this step. For low-carb paleo, simmer the liquid in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reduces and thickens, about ten minutes.

photo credit: jypsygen via photopin cc

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Shrimp and Mushrooms with Garlic Mojo

shrimpby Karen Frazier

I know – more mushrooms. Like I said in an earlier post, fall is the perfect time to find delicious seasonal mushrooms, so I take advantage of the bounty. Plus, I love mushrooms. If you don’t care for them, go ahead and leave them out of this delicious paleo recipe.

I use a modified version of Rick Bayless’s garlic mojo. Make the mojo ahead of time, and keep it tightly sealed in the refrigerator for several weeks. Then, use the garlic mojo in the recipe.

Garlic Mojo

  • 1 1/2 cups peeled garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or some type of melted animal fat, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of three limes
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a square glass pan (8×8″), spread the garlic along the bottom of the pan. Pour the olive oil or fat over the top. Add the salt and stir to combine, making sure all of the cloves are completely covered with oil. If they aren’t, add a little more oil or remove a few garlic cloves.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the garlic begins to turn golden, 45 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the garlic from the oven and stir in the lime juice and chipotle.
  5. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the garlic mojo from the oven and mash the garlic cloves with a potato masher or a fork.
  7. Allow the garlic mojo to cool completely and then put it in a container that seals tightly. Refrigerate for up to 90 days. Be sure the garlic remains submerged in oil when you store it.

Shrimp and Mushrooms with Garlic Mojo

  • 1/4 cup garlic mojo, divided
  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced (use any kind you wish)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 recipe guacamole
  • 1 recipe pico di gallo (recipe follows)
  • Several large lettuce leaves
  1. Stir the garlic mojo before measuring it.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat two tablespoons of the garlic mojo over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink, about six minutes.
  3. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set it aside on a platter.
  4. Add the remaining two tablespoons of garlic mojo to the sauté pan. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and begin to brown, six to eight minutes.
  5. Return the shrimp and any juices that have collected on the platter to the sauté pan.
  6. Add the lime juice, chipotle chili and sea salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp heats through, about four minutes.
  7. Serve the garlic mojo using the lettuce leaves as tortillas. Top with guacamole and pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

photo credit: Rene Venturoso via photopin cc

Mushroom Soup with Italian Sausage and Fennel

mushroom soupby Karen Frazier

Tendergrass farms makes a tasty grass-fed, sugar-free Italian sausage. I really like it, and so I enjoy using it in soups, spaghetti sauce (with zucchini spaghetti of course), and other recipes. In the fall when delicious mushrooms are so abundant, I especially enjoy mushroom dishes, which is why you’re seeing so many of them in my recipe feed lately.

This soup is delicious and hearty. It really hits the spot on a cold fall evening. I use my typical thickening method…pureeing the vegetables and adding them back into the broth, because it works so well.

Mushroom Soup with Italian Sausage and Fennel

  • 1 bulb organic garlic, the top sliced off
  • 2 tablespoons melted fat (lard, duck fat, etc.)
  • Sprinkling of sea salt
  • Sprinkling of organic chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 package organic dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups homemade beef or chicken bone broth
  • 3 tablespoons melted fat (I use duck fat)
  • 1 pound sugar-free, organic pastured pork Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 pound seasonal organic mushrooms (can be any variety), sliced
  • 1 bulb organic fennel, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (or more broth)
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.
  • Two tablespoons chopped organic fennel fronds
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cut garlic heads on a large piece of foil. Drizzle them with two tablespoons of the melted fat and sprinkle them with salt and rosemary. Wrap them in the foil. Roast the garlic in the preheated oven for about 90 minutes, until soft. Allow it to cool slightly, and then squeeze the cloves out of the papery skin and into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the bone broth until it simmers. Remove the broth from the heat and add the dried porcini mushrooms. Cover and allow the mushrooms to soak until they are soft, about two hours.
  3. In a large dutch oven, heat three tablespoons of fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking the sausage apart with a spoon, until it is browned, five to seven minutes. Remove the sausage from the fat with a slotted spoon and set aside on a platter.
  4. Add the onion to the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown, five to seven minutes. Remove the onions from the fat with a slotted spoon and set it aside in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade.
  5. If needed, add a little more fat to the pan. Over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms in the fat, stirring occasionally, until they soften, seven to ten minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the fat with a slotted spoon. Put half of the mushrooms into the food processor with the onions and put the remaining half on the platter with the Italian sausage.
  6. Add the fennel to the remaining fat in the pan (or add a bit more if necessary). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is soft, five to seven minutes.
  7. Add the red wine to the pot. Using the side of your spoon, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Use a slotted spoon to remove the reconstituted porcini mushrooms from the stock and put them in the food processor with the other vegetables. Pour the stock into the cooking pot.
  9. Add the cooked sausage and mushrooms from the platter, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer.
  10. Meanwhile, add the roasted garlic to the food processor with the mushrooms and onions. Process until the vegetables form a smooth paste, 30 seconds to one minute.
  11. Stir the vegetables back into the pot of soup to thicken it.
  12. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup warms through, about five more minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  13. Serve garnished with fennel fronds.

For an easier to make but still paleo version, but with a slightly higher carb count (about 12 g per serving versus about 7 g per serving):

  • 1 package organic dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups homemade beef or chicken bone broth
  • 3 tablespoons melted fat (I use duck fat)
  • 1 pound sugar-free, organic pastured pork Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 pound seasonal organic mushrooms (can be any variety), sliced
  • 1 bulb organic fennel, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (or more broth)
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Two tablespoons chopped organic fennel fronds
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cut garlic heads on a large piece of foil. Drizzle them with two tablespoons of the melted fat and sprinkle them with salt and rosemary. Wrap them in the foil. Roast the garlic in the preheated oven for about 90 minutes, until soft. Allow it to cool slightly, and then squeeze the cloves out of the papery skin and into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the bone broth until it simmers. Remove the broth from the heat and add the dried porcini mushrooms. Cover and allow the mushrooms to soak until they are soft, about two hours. Remove the mushrooms from the broth and chop them roughly. Return them to the broth.
  3. In a large dutch oven, heat three tablespoons of fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the Italian sausage and cook, breaking the sausage apart with a spoon, until it is browned, five to seven minutes. Remove the sausage from the fat with a slotted spoon and set aside on a platter.
  4. Add the onion to the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown, five to seven minutes. Remove the onions from the fat with a slotted spoon and set it aside with the sausage.
  5. If needed, add a little more fat to the pan. Over medium-high heat, cook the mushrooms in the fat, stirring occasionally, until they soften and brown, seven to ten minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the fat with a slotted spoon. Set them aside with the sausage.
  6. Add the fennel to the remaining fat in the pan (or add a bit more if necessary). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is soft, five to seven minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the sherry to the pot. Using the side of your spoon, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Pour the stock into the cooking pot. Add the cooked sausage, mushrooms, and onions back to the pot along with the thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  9. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and water. Pour them into the simmering pot, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens slightly.
  11. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  12. Serve garnished with fennel fronds.

photo credit: RonjaNilsson via photopin cc

Pork and Spinach Meatballs with Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Gravy

meatballsby Karen Frazier

Recently, I bought some lovely ground pastured pork from a local farmer and knew I wanted to make something tasty with it. Okay – true – I always want to make something tasty. As always, I turned to my slow cooker.

You may notice I’ve been posting a lot of slow cooker recipes lately. Here’s why. When you cook real food – that is, food that doesn’t come in packages, jars, and cans – it can be pretty time and labor intensive. Of course, the results are totally worth it, and I love to cook. But I’m cooking three real food meals every day – and I get tired of cleaning up the kitchen. Not the cooking – just the cleaning. Plus, Jim and I are often on different schedules, so we need to eat at different times.

The slow cooker takes care of both of these problems. First, my slow cooker is 7 quarts, so I can make a lot of food in it. Therefore, I typically double any recipe I post here. It simmers all day long, and I’ve got meals for two nights, plus leftovers for the freezer. (Bonus: The house smells great!) My freezer is packed with yummy slow cooker food that I can take out and heat up for any meal. That means that I not only get two dinners out of one day of cooking, but I also have additional breakfasts and lunches on demand. It gives Jim the opportunity to grab a healthy meal for lunches at work, too, instead of having to turn to something like a fast food meal.

The other reason I’ve been using the slow cooker so much is scheduling. When Jim and I are on our wildly divergent schedules, we can each eat a hot meals straight from the slow cooker when time permits. Slow cookers make it easy for busy families to grab a quick meal when they have the time.

So, that’s why I love my slow cooker and use it so much. Oh – and one other reason, as well. The slow cooker is a closed system that cooks on low heat all day. This tenderizes meats and allows flavors to meld beautifully, so the meals are hearty and delicious. What could be better?

For the caramelized onions in this recipe, I make a huge batch in the slow cooker. You can also make a batch by cooking thinly sliced onions on the stovetop on low heat in a sauté pan with a few tablespoons of fat and a pinch of salt for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pork and Spinach Meatballs with Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons duck fat (or your fat of choice)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 1 pound pastured ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder, divided
  • 3 cups organic spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 pound organic mushrooms, divided
  • 1 organic carrot, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup homemade beef or chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup caramelized onions (about one onion)
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add one of the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about five minutes.
  2. Add the two cloves of the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Remove the onions from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked onions and garlic, pork, 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard powder, spinach, 8 ounces of the mushrooms (finely chopped), the grated carrot, the dried thyme, the sea salt, the pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Using your hands, mix well to combine.
  4. Roll the mixture into meatballs that are slightly smaller than a golf ball. Put the meatballs in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  5. Add the remaining onion (chopped), the remaining garlic (minced), the chopped carrots, the remaining 8 ounces of mushrooms (sliced), the stock, the rosemary sprig, and some salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and cook on low for six hours.
  7. Before serving, remove the lid of the slow cooker and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes uncovered. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meatballs from the slow cooker and set them aside on a platter, tented with foil. Remove the rosemary sprig and discard it. Using the same spoon, remove the solids (the carrots, mushrooms, and onions) from the broth in the slow cooker. Put them in a food processor or blender with the caramelized onions and the remaining half teaspoon of dried mustard and process until they form a smooth puree. (Remember to protect your hand with a folded towel and to allow steam to escape through the open top chute of the processor).
  8. Pour the mixture from the food processor back into the slow cooker, using a rubber scraper to make sure you get it all. Whisk the mixture to combine the broth in the slow cooker with the pureed vegetables.
  9. Return the meatballs to the slow cooker and stir to mix them with the gravy.
  10. Serve on pureed celeriac or cauliflower.

photo credit: gavinr via photopin cc

Paleo Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup

meatloafby Karen Frazier

So here’s my problem with meatloaf without a panade (a mixture of breadcrumbs and milk). It tends to be heavy. It doesn’t get that loafy texture one associates with meatloaf. Naturally, I’ve been tinkering. It’s easy to make a meatloaf dairy and gluten-free – you just make breadcrumbs from GF bread and soak them in non-dairy milk. When you no longer consume grains, however, obtaining that texture gets harder.

I’ve seen different solutions to this in paleo and low-carb recipes over the years – things like crushed pork rinds (I hate those things) and chopped nuts. I think the pork rinds add an unpleasant porky flavor, but if you like them that might work out. As for the chopped nuts, they make the loaf even heavier.

As I was sitting and pondering the problem, I knew I needed some type of vegetable that would add a lighter texture, not a heavier one to replace the breadcrumbs. Then it hit me. Mushrooms. I put about 8 ounces in the food processor and chopped them up into a very fine texture (almost like breadcrumbs). Then, because I’m always trying to hide veggies from Jim, I decided I’d toss some carrots, sweet red bell pepper, and zucchini in there, too. I put them all in the food processor with several cloves of garlic and chopped them extremely finely. Then, I mixed it in with the meat, spices, and onion. The texture was actually pretty darn good.

In the past, my meatloaf has contained three different types of meat – 2 parts ground beef (15 percent fat), 1 part ground pork, and 1 part ground veal. This version is made from all ground beef, although you can adapt it to any meat mixture you wish. Leaving the fat content of the meat a bit higher makes the meatloaf moister.

Finally, I made a facsimile of ketchup. Then, I made it spicy. It was pretty good, and the texture of the meatloaf avoided that heaviness that comes from a loaf without breadcrumbs. I’m thrilled I was able to translate my non-paleo meatloaf into this tasty paleo version. The kids, on the other hand, are going to be super bummed.

Paleo Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

  • 2 tablespoons fat (I use duck fat, because yum. You can also use lard, tallow, or grass-fed butter)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (15 percent fat or higher)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 8 ounces thin sliced bacon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the fat until it melts. Add the onions and cook until they are soft, about five minutes. Allow to cool before proceeding.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade, process the mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, and garlic until finely chopped. You may need to do this in batches to get the right size chop.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onions, chopped vegetables from the food processor, eggs, horseradish, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, coconut aminos, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet, patting it into a free-form loaf.
  6. Cover the entire loaf with slices of bacon.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 75 minutes, until a thermometer reads 165 degrees. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 30 minutes before slicing it.

Spicy Ketchup

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 9 ounces organic tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can organic chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice if you don’t do vinegar)
  • Juice of one orange
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey (substitute a packet of stevia if you’re looking for low-carb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Scrape the ketchup into a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If it gets to thick, add more apple cider vinegar to thin it out a bit.

The ketchup will keep for two weeks in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, and will fulfill all your ketchup needs. It’s not just for meatloaf.

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