Slow Cooker Paleo Jambalaya

Jambalayaby Karen Frazier

I love spicy food. Jim is a little more reticent. He will eat it, but he prefers it not be too hot. Most jambalaya recipes have a lot of heat in them, making them spicier than Jim’s palate prefers. So I set out to make jambalaya (without rice for obvious reasons) that would fit Jim’s heat preferences.

This recipe turned out perfectly. It had a little heat from the andouille without setting fire to our mouths. If you like it spicier, add more cayenne.

Slow Cooker Paleo Jambalaya

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 organic red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 organic yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 organic green pepper, peeled and chopped
  • 1 organic jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup homemade beef bone broth
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh organic thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh organic oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh organic basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 pound wild caught shrimp, tails removed, peeled, and deveined
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. In a large slow cooker, combine the onion, peppers, jalapeño, garlic, andouille, chicken, tomatoes, broth, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook, covered, in a slow cooker on low for seven hours.
  2. Stir in the shrimp and lemon juice. Cover and continue cooking, turning the slow cooker up to high, until shrimp is pink, about one hour.
  3. Stir in the parsley.
  4. Serve garnished with the scallions.

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

Slow Cooker Lamb Osso Buco

osso bucoby Karen Frazier

Several years ago, I came into possession of some cross-cut veal shanks, so I made Jim osso buco. He was immediately enamored, and it is one of his top requested meals. Of course, veal isn’t necessarily so easy to get where I live, but lamb is. Recently I picked up some pastured cross-cut lamb shanks, and I decided to adapt my osso buco recipe for the slow cooker, and for lamb. With an orange gremolata stirred in at the end, it’s really delicious.

Lamb Osso Buco

  • 4 pastured (grass fed) cross-cut lamb shanks
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large organic carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 stalk of organic celery, sliced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) organic diced tomatoes, drained
  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, dried, and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Zest of one orange, finely grated
  1. In the crock of a slow cooker, combine lamb, onion, carrots, garlic, celery, tomatoes, orange juice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
  2. After the osso buco is cooked, remove the lid and turn the slow cooker up to high. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for an additional 30 to 60 minutes to thicken the sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the parsley, cloves, and orange zest with a pinch of sea salt. Stir into the osso buck just before serving.

photo credit: Micaiena via photopin cc

Caramelized Onions – In the Slow Cooker

caramelized onionsby Karen Frazier

Caramelized onions add a sweet umami flavor to any dish. Just a few of these delicious onions make the dishes to which you add them display deeper complexity and richness. Plus, they are just plain delicious, and they’re a great way to add flavor to ancestral recipes.

I use them to top burger patties and steaks. I puree them with faux mashed potatoes made from cauliflower or celeriac. I stir them into soups and stews. I puree them with other cooked veggies and stir them back into braising liquid to make a flavorful thick sauce or gravy. I fold them into omelets, cook them with chicken, mix them with pureed avocado for a creamy dip, and find dozens of other delicious uses for them.

So it stands to reason with that, with so many uses for caramelized onions, it makes cooking easier if I make them in bulk and freeze them. When I make a single serving of caramelized onions on the stovetop, it takes about 45 minutes, which isn’t realistic for busy weeknights. However, if I make them in bulk in the slow cooker and freeze them, they are really easy to incorporate in all kinds of delicious dishes.

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

  • 5 to 7 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced (or however many fit in your slow cooker)
  • 3 tablespoons melted duck fat, lard, or your preferred fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a slow cooker to coat the onions.
  2. Cover the slow cooker and turn it on to low. Cook for about nine to ten hours, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Remove the lid and continue cooking the onions on low, stirring occasionally, for an additional one to two hours to allow excess liquid to evaporate.
  3. These will keep in the freezer for up to six months.

A note about the onions: The Environmental Working Group lists onions as one of its Clean 15, items that test only negligible amounts of pesticide residue. If I pick up onions at the farmers market, I buy them organic. Otherwise, I typically by conventionally grown onions at the grocery store.

One of my favorite cooking publications, Cooks Illustrated, recommends Spanish onions as the perfect caramelizing onion. I agree – if you can find them, try these. Otherwise, yellow onions are perfect. Sweet onions will make a very sweet caramelized onion, which may be a bit too much sweetness for some people. I prefer my caramelized onions on the more savory side with just a hint of sweetness, which is why I tend to use yellow onions or Spanish onions.

My favorite onions are cipollini, so I was excited to give those a try to caramelize. To my surprise they were almost aggressively savory – so just a few onions went a very long way.

photo credit: I Believe I Can Fry via photopin cc