Paleo Slow Cooker Pork Chili Colorado

dried chiliesby Karen Frazier

With Tanner off to college and Kevin only here a few weekends a month, Jim has become my primary cooking “audience.” As you may have noticed in previous posts, I spend a lot of time discussing what Jim likes to eat as the impetus for the foods I cook. My Paleo pork chili Colorado is no exception. I want Jim to enjoy the foods he eats so he is more easily able to stick to the plan. His health (and mine) is very important to me.

Pre-heart attack and pre-Paleo diet Jim really liked to eat Chili Colorado at Mexican restaurants. One night about a month into the Paleo diet, he got a wistful look in his eyes and started talking about how much he missed Azteca’s chili Colorado burrito. Clearly a burrito was out of the question, but I figured I had chili Colorado within my reach.

For my first attempt, I had some grass fed bison stew meat in the freezer, so I thought I’d try that. I nailed the spice blend, so the flavors were great, but the bison was just too dry to lend itself well to the slow stewing that happens with chili. This week, I decided to try some pastured pork shoulder instead. What a difference. The fat in the pork added a richness of flavor, and the meat took on the spices nicely.

So now, when Jim gets that wistful look in his eye, I’m ready for him with a nice pot of pork chili Colorado.

Paleo Slow Cooker Pork Chili Colorado

  • 1 pastured pork shoulder roast (4-5 pounds), cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 dried New Mexico (or guajillo) chilies
  • 2 dried chipotle chilies
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups homemade beef, chicken, or pork stock
  1. Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and put them in the slow cooker with the onions and garlic.
  2. Roughly chop the dried chili peppers and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Run the processor for 20 one-second pulses. Then, run it continuously until the peppers are chopped into a powder with a few small pieces in it.
  3. Add the peppers to the slow cooker, and then add the cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and stock. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for eight to ten hours.

photo credit: MarxFoods.com via photopin cc

Asian Pork Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Dipping Sauce

pork meatballsby Karen Frazier

This recipe is not strictly paleo because I use a few non-paleo ingredients. But it’s still low-carb and pretty darn delicious. While I avoid non-paleo ingredients 80 to 90 percent of the time, I occasionally do use them. I like to serve the meatballs with leaves of tender butter lettuce. Wrap the meatball in the lettuce and dip it in the tasty sauce.

Asian Pork Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Dipping Sauce

For the meatballs:

  • 2 pounds ground pastured pork
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut aminos for paleo)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (omit for paleo or find cold pressed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili oil (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes for paleo)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • Butter lettuce leaves

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut aminos for paleo)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or to taste) or 1/2 teaspoon chili oil (or to taste) (for paleo, try red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon Swerve sweetener, 1 packet of stevia, or 1 tablespoon honey (optional – omit if using coconut aminos)

To make the meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together (except for lettuce leaves). Use your hands to mix well.
  3. Roll into medium-sized meatballs and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves dipped in the sauce.

To make the dipping sauce:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Start by adding a little of the garlic chili sauce or chili oil, and then adding more to achieve the desired level of heat.

photo credit: matthewf01 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

Country Style Spare Ribs with Apples, Cabbage, and Fennel

porkby Karen Frazier

Things are about to take a turn here at Recipes for My Kids. As you may have already noted, I often include gluten-free and dairy-free recipes because I have celiac disease and a casein allergy. While the kids were still at home, I went ahead and prepared their favorites that contained dairy and gluten anyway. The result was that I cross-contaminated myself frequently, and often wound up feeling very ill.

Now Tanner is off to college, and Kevin is only here one or two weekends per month. When Tanner left about a month ago for college, I realized it was the perfect time to turn my kitchen into a gluten-free, dairy-free mecca. I meticulously cleaned the entire kitchen, removing all traces of gluten or dairy that had accumulated in drawers and cupboards over the years. I purchased new gluten-free cookware and utensils. I designated a small counter and a single cupboard the spot for preparation of gluten-containing foods like sandwiches or toasts, and implemented very specific cleaning protocols so if someone made a gluten-containing food, it didn’t cross over into my pristine area. Even the freezer has a designated gluten area (the bottom shelf), and the kids have a refrigerator up in their room if they want to store some gluten-containing food when they are home.

As a result, I started feeling better than I had in years. With even the tiniest traces of gluten and dairy cross-contamination removed from my home, the years of symptoms I’d experienced such as exhaustion and digestive discomfort went away. Clearly I was on the right track.

With dairy and gluten grains off the table, my ultimate plan was to move in the direction of an ancestral style diet that didn’t contain any grains, processed foods, industrial seed oils, chemicals, processed sugar, or processed salt. My plan was to move into a more ancestral way of eating gradually. Then, about a week after Tanner left for school, Jim had a heart attack. I decided at that moment it was time to truly revamp his diet and mine in order to protect his heart health in the future.

Today, just four weeks later, my kitchen is a very different place. I cook every meal from scratch – all aspects of it – and I make it without grains, processed foods, or industrial seed oils. Jim has already lost 15 pounds in about two weeks, and his health is the best I have seen it in quite some time. We’re lucky because his heart attack was very mild. It served as a wake-up call to both of us.

Because I’m cooking so much, I’ve come up with a few strategies to give myself a break so I’m not in the kitchen constantly. For example, I typically make enough in each meal so that we get two dinners out of it, as well as something for the freezer. That way, on nights I don’t feel like cooking, I’ve got food in the freezer that can easily be thawed and reheated.

I’m also using my slow cooker. A lot. When it’s not in use cooking meals, I’ve got it simmering with a bone broth or stock to use in recipes. To make the stocks, I use bones and trimmings from meat, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and herbs. I simmer it for 12 to 24 hours depending on the type of bones and freeze it so I have it on hand whenever I want to make a quick soup.

So – this is a very long way of saying this. You’ll notice things changing here on the blog. All recipes from this point forward (unless I’m getting in the way back machine and pulling out a favorite recipe from the past) are both gluten-free and dairy-free. More likely than not, they’ll also be grain-free and contain lots of healthy plant foods and pastured ingredients. Some may call it paleo. Some may call it primal. But I just call it delicious. So here’s the first paleo recipe. Enjoy!

Country Style Spare Ribs with Apples, Cabbage, and Fennel

  • 2 sweet tart organic apples (such as honey crisp), peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 organic fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Dash cayenne
  • 2 pounds pastured country style pork spare ribs
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 small green organic cabbage, cut into small pieces
  1. In a large slow cooker, combine the apples, fennel, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, cinnamon, thyme, and cayenne. Stir to combine.
  2. Season the pork with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Add to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the vegetables and apples.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to ten hours, or on high for five hours.
  4. An hour before serving, stir in the cabbage. Cover and continue to cook on low for an additional hour.

Maple-Orange Glazed Pork Shoulder Roast

porkshoulderJim got a smoker for Christmas, so right now he’s totally into smoked meat. I, on the other hand, am getting tired of it. Still, we’re having a New Year’s Eve dinner gathering of friends, so we decided to break out the smoker. I’m adapting a recipe I enjoy making either in the oven or on the grill to the smoker – Jim will smoke it low and slow for several hours. If you’d like to cook it in the oven, then I recommend roasting at 325 for about an hour per pound. For the brine:

  • 8 quarts of cold water
  • 1 cup sea salt

For the roast:

  • 5-6 pound pork shoulder roast
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

For the glaze

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 3 tablespoons whiskey
  • Zest of one orange
  • Juice from two oranges
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha or to taste (red pepper flakes for paleo)
  1. Combine water, brown sugar, and salt in a cooler, mixing well.
  2. Add pork shoulder and allow roast to brine for about 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove roast from brine and rinse. Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Season pork with salt and pepper. Smoke at about 225 degrees, one hour per pound.
  5. While roast smokes, combine syrup, soy sauce, whiskey, orange zest, orange juice, and sriracha in a small saucepan.
  6. Simmer the glaze until syrupy.
  7. Begin brushing glaze onto meat in about hour #3 of cooking, and brush glaze every 15 minutes.
  8. Cook meat to an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to sit, tented with foil, for 30 minutes, before slicing.