Friday, August 17, 2012


I bought some grass fed hamburger patties from Wegman's the other day on sale because it was the last day they could sell them.  I'm sure the culinary schooled folks who read this would be appalled that the sell by date was the 14th and I'm using them three days later, and cooking them medium rare to boot.  But for us normal people out there who stretch the limits of what's safe to eat in our kitchens (I can't be the only one who has stood there, pondering whether or not to risk food poisoning, and then deciding the risk is worth it...), I cooked up these babies today with one of my absolute favorite condiments EVER: worcestershire sauce.  I love this not just for the impossible-to-consistently-pronounce name (unless you've ever listened to "Tollbooth Willie" (nsfw) you probably pronounce all those letters), but also for its spicy and tart kick that makes meat and mushrooms pop.  So let's see what havoc we can wreak on my kitchen today.

Here are our ingredients: ground beef patties, onion, green beans, yellow squash, shallots, bacon fat (!), artichoke hearts and worcestershire sauce.  There are many reasons why a paleo lifestyle pairs well with the prescriptions of the Zone Diet but in this picture we have a fairly good example of eating a variety of colors and kinds of foods.  I think one of the pitfalls of most "diets" is that it's too monotonous.  But once you get the legos of paleo down, you can build everything from TIE Fighters to a seaside getaway complete with crabs. So, we have meat, fats and veggies as carbs. A little worcestershire sauce and a dash of salt and pepper to round out some flavors, but really, the stars are the real foods.

First, let's chop up half the onion and a shallot and put in a hot pan of bacon fat or duck fat. I used both. Because duck fat is delicious, and is only bested by bacon grease.  Sweat them out, get 'em all nice and clear and a little toasty. They get all caramelly (totally a word) and sweet and defreakinglicious, but only if you have patience and don't try to fry the living crap out of them in a hurry.  Like I said yesterday, don't be a jerk, love your food.

Next, let's put some water on to boil to steam those green beans and artichoke hearts. I like my green beans crisp, and what better way to keep 'em that way than to steam them in their own stovetop sauna. I like to get the water to a full boil, throw in the beans for about 3-4 minutes, cover it up (already made that joke) and then throw the artichokes and turn off the heat.  This lets them simmer while you cook the rest of the meal and makes it less likely that you'll cook the ever living green out of them by forgetting to turn off the heat later. Trial by error folks...

Going back to the squash, cover that up too and let that stuff sweat it out on medium heat until the squash is tender. Maybe 4-5 minutes? I don't know how hot your stove is, but if it's anything like my electric stove, which decides when and if it will actually work, then your guess is as good as mine. After said indeterminate amount of time, you want them fairly cooked through so that when you slap that hamburger in there, you can leave the cover off and let the hamburger fat and worcestershire sauce mingle with their new squashy friends.

Now, one thing I hate is when you follow a recipe, and it literally requires you to use every freaking pot and pan you own.  At the end you look at your kitchen and go "WTF was I thinking!?"  I'd rather you say "WTF Am I eating? It's so awesome!"  So here we have a one-pan wonder, where hamburgers and squash can coexist happily.  Just throw that hamburger in the pan and turn up the heat a bit to get it nice and toasty.  I put some worcestershire sauce directly onto the hamburger patty.  Best. Idea. Ever.  Marinating it makes it a little too potent. Worcestershire sauce after cooking doesn't do it for me flavor wise. So this works best for me.  Just enough flavor to let the grass fed beef be the star but also tasting AWESOME. When it's close to being done, hopefully it will look kinda like this. 

Crispy edges, cooked squash. Not well-done. Maybe 5 minutes tops on high heat, but again, depends on if your stove is bipolar or not. What the hell, throw on some salt and pepper too. Couldn't hurt.

As I mentioned before, I like to eat a variety of things. And one of the main tenants of the Zone diet in addition to this is to consume healthy fats in the form of nuts (nut jokes never get old btw).  But pecans and cashews and almonds just did not seem like they'd do much for this dish. So, while cooking, I just ate a handful instead. 
Problem solved.

Anyway, once the hamburger is cooked to your liking (which is hopefully  not well done because cooking the sh*t out of grass fed beef is a travesty), take 'er out and make sure the squash soaks up the juices, fat and crispies undoubtedly left by said hamburger.  Waste not, want not.

Now, put all of your cooked goodness on a plate and admire your work.  You're about to consume a gustatory masterpiece, and it maybe took you 30 minutes of your time.  That's probably less time than you'll have in the day that was undoubtedly wasted by talking to some of the idiots you work with.  And I'm not just projecting my job situation onto others.  There are always moments when people around you make you question your place in the world, and why these particular idiots happened onto your path...

I contemplated putting bacon into this dish too. Because really. Bacon. But I abstained... for now... Feel free to give in to the guilty pleasure, though, if worcestershire sauce is not your thing.  (I really love typing worcestershire sauce...)


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