Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Paleo Pen Pals March 2013 - Red Palm Oil African Curry and a recipe from my Paleo Pen Pal Wyatt

 My Paleo Pen Pal this month was Wyatt (P.S. – Wyatt doesn’t have a blog so scroll to the end of this post to see what he made with the mandarin oranges I sent him). He sent me a product I had never heard of and honestly had no idea what to do with.  He did warn me when he shipped it that he had seen very few recipes that call for it (one to be exact) so when I opened the package to find a jar of Red Palm Oil, I was stumped! I opened the jar to find that it really is red and the consistency of coconut oil. I had to turn to the trusty interwebs to find out exactly what people do with this stuff. The package listed a number of suggestions such as adding it to smoothies, hot cereals or in any recipe in place of butter, but I wanted to do something a bit more creative.

I learned that Red Palm Oil is made from the fruit of oil palm trees, is high in carotenes (hence the red color) and is used in many African, Southeast Asian and Brazilian dishes.  It is often used in curries and egg dishes. Kevin is the curry king (proclaimed by… me) so I let him in on my plan and told him to see what he could come up with. As he got to work on this traditional African curry, my taste buds got very excited! He made an aromatic spice mixture that I knew would be delicious with the coconut milk based curry. He added diced peppers, bite-size potatoes, onion and chicken and let it simmer until the scent filled the whole house and you could almost taste it.

If you don’t eat potatoes, you could easily sub in sweet potatoes or another vegetable, but this was a hearty meal that we both enjoyed and it made a TON so we’ll be enjoying it for the rest of the week at least. :)

Have you ever used Red Palm Oil? How do you like to use it?

Want to become a part of Paleo Pen Pals? It is a fun Paleo food swap for bloggers and non-bloggers alike! To learn more and sign up, click here.

Chicken Curry with Red Palm Oil
Serves: 8
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


>>Spice Mixture
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp Red pepper flakes (more if you prefer it to be spicier)

>> Remaining Ingredients
2 russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp Red Palm Oil
2 yellow onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
Pinch of saffron threads
Juice of ½ lemon
1, 14.5 oz can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes
2, 14 oz cans of coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

Heat a large pot of water over high heat until it boils. Add potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set potatoes aside.
In a large soup pot, heat palm oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for one minute. Stir well.
Add spice mixture, ginger and saffron. Stir well to incorporate and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice and tomatoes.
Turn heat to medium-low, stir in coconut milk and simmer for 3 minutes.
Add potatoes, bell pepper and chicken. Stir, and cover with lid. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. This should allow the mixture to thicken up a bit.


My Paleo Pen Pal for the month of March was Tarah from What I Gather.  She sent me some Trader Joe's Mandarin Oranges.  Before moving to Houston, I lived in the Southern California area for a few years, and quickly fell in love with Trader Joe's.  Of course, most of those trips were spent buying grain-based junk food, so once I went Paleo, I got over the fact that we didn't have any Trader Joe's here in Houston. Then later I realized they sold some great stuff, and I missed them all over again.  We now have 2 locations in Houston, but neither one is particularly close to me.

Now what to do with the oranges?  I've had the urge lately to pull out my ice cream maker and make something, and this seemed the perfect opportunity....until I remembered about 2 seconds later that orange creamsicle is my wife's most detested flavor, ever, and that if I were ever to attempt to serve it to her, this would be grounds for divorce.  Obviously, this is still a traumatic memory for her, and I don't think her pregnancy hormones would make it any better.  So...I could have opted to forgo the coconut milk, and just make a sorbet...but on the off chance sorbet was still too close, I chose to make dinner instead.

Orange Beef, serves 2-3

2 lbs Trader Joes Mandarin Oranges, freshly squeezed (makes about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp tamari (or coconut aminos)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp granulated onion powder

I used what I had on hand, which was 1.5 lbs of beef stew meat. If I could do it over again, I'd use thinly sliced sirloin.  But my wife and I both enjoyed the final result just the same.
2 Tbsp coconut oil
salt, pepper to taste

2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
sesame seeds

Juice all of the oranges into a small mixing bowl. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix together.

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan on medium high heat.

If using stew meat, add it now and let the outsides brown.  Salt and pepper it to your liking.  (If using thinly sliced sirloin, add it later on in recipe)

Let stew meat brown for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. You're not trying to cook it all the way through here.

Add the sauce, and let it come to a slow boil.  Adjust heat as needed.  The goal here is to boil off most of the water in the sauce, leaving the tangy orangey goodness behind.  With enough sugar and heat, you should get a nice caramelized coating to the beef.  Most orange chicken recipes I've seen add more sugar beyond what's in the oranges to get a better caramelization (for paleo recipes, this additional sugar is usually in the form of honey), but I generally lean towards a lower carb paleo and didn't particularly want the extra sugar.  So, 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice is all I used.  This step took me about 15 minutes.

If using thinly sliced sirloin, add it towards the end of the sauce reduction, as the sauce starts to foam.  The meat shouldn't take too long to cook, and the sauce reduction should finish about the same time as the meat.

Remove the saucepan from heat, add the garnish, and mix well.

Serve immediately, over cauliflower rice.

We both really enjoyed the meal, and the chili flakes gave it just the right amount of kick.  The reduced sauce gave some needed flavor to the cauliflower rice as well.