Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Paleo Awesomesauce and Ribs (or Chicken, or Whatever)

Shredded chicken thigh in awesomesauce.
When you immerse yourself into the paleo world, you realize just how much crap companies put into processed foods. Everything has HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or sucralose or soy lecithin or any number of preservatives that literally no one can pronounce. All of these things are not real food. You don't recognize them. Your body won't recognize them. It switches your system into high gear to deal with these chemicals and junk and you're slowly poisoning your body and your health. To be paleo is to strive to eat real food, containing only things you recognize and preferably know where they came from.

But this gets a bit more complicated when it comes to condiments. Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, barbecue sauce... We could make a long list of things in our fridges that persist long after we throw away all those other "nonpaleo" foods. If it weren't for the fact that perishable foods don't ship across the ocean very well, you'd probably find some Hellman's mayo and French's mustard in my fridge from living in Syracuse. They never seem to go bad and you never know when you might need some mustard for a recipe or some ketchup for a burger. But don't be fooled. All of these condiments have those evil fake ingredients above. So what's a paleo person to do?!

One website, the Paleo Diet Lifestyle blog, created by Sebastian Noel, gives all of us a bit of hope. If you've got some time and you like tooling around in the kitchen for some of the more involved recipes, you can have paleo versions of all the things mentioned above! Love ketchup? Make your own! Like relish? Bust that sh*t out! Hell, I even gave you my own recipe for that one. So you literally have no excuse. This particular post is great because it puts all of the recipes for "condiments" in one place. I was happy to see that barbecue sauce was also on this list. I did not go so far as to make paleo versions of things like ketchup and Worchestershire sauce (though I might, because I do so love typing and saying that word), but I didn't strictly follow this recipe either...

Then I found another great barbecue sauce recipe from ANOTHER great blog, that I hope to reference again in the near future because it's a literal treasure trove of awesomeness, The Domestic Man created by a guy with a crazy story (but apparently no name). I more or less followed this recipe, but of course I changed a lot of things. I'm so bad at planning ahead for recipes. I pretty much get an idea of something I want to make, then I check to see what I have on hand to make it, and substitute the sh*t out of it so I don't have to go shopping just for one recipe. Maybe I'm lazy. Maybe I'm just super effing creative and like to problem solve. Either way, check out his recipe first, then come back and we will chat.

Sauce in progress. My house smelled amazing.
Here are a few of my substitutions: Instead of whole tomatoes I used diced. I used regular apple cider vinegar instead of Braggs. I used regular molasses and chunks of fresh pineapple (I live in the land of pineapple so it seemed silly not to use up the one in my fridge) instead of honey and date molasses and orange juice. I skipped the dijon and added regular German style whole seed mustard and left out the allspice all together (because I didn't have it at the time). I used smoked paprika instead of regular... And I think that's pretty much it. Everything else is sort of the same. I say sort of because I don't measure very well. Teaspoons and tablespoons and cups are all great and whatnot... but meh. I made some damn sauce. And it worked. End of story.

Check out those recipes and decide which one sounds best to you. Since I substituted a lot of stuff, neither recipe is really the one I made, so I can't say which one tastes better having made neither. But the sauce I did make was freaking awesome. Thick and smokey and tangy. DEFREAKINGLICIOUS!

This lasted all of two seconds after this picture was taken.
I took that sauce and put it in my crock pot. Then, after baking a rack of pork ribs in the oven for about 1/2 hour at 400 degrees, I put the ribs into the sauce and cooked it on high for 6 hours with the lid ajar to let the moisture out (baking them first also helps release excess moisture that would boil your ribs rather than cook them in the sauce). The result was an amazing rack of ribs (that I ate with my hands! squee!!!) that went well with a goat cheese salad and half an avocado. You could probably have paired it with some really weird and gross sounding vegetables, like day old mushrooms cooked in a used Chuck Taylor hightop, and the meal still would have been awesomesauce. Maybe instead of barbecue sauce, I should just call it awesomesauce. Let's go with that.

So test out making your own barbecue sauce sometime. It's pretty easy, if just slightly time consuming. But on a weekend when you need time to relax and unwind, grab a glass of wine (or tequila, since we're all paleo and sh*t even with boozing) and make up some awesomesauce. Even if the sauce sucks (which I very much doubt would happen), you'll have been drinking wine or tequila and won't care either way. It's a win-win.


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