Paleo is all about the meat. Actually, that’s not true at all. There are lots of delicious protein sources available on Paleo from fish to eggs. However, meat is probably going to feature pretty steadily on your menu from now on. Whilst eating different types and cuts of meat is important, it might just be time to upgrade your preparation and cooking skills to get the most out of your meat.
Meat preparation is a very underrated skill. You can get two very different final results from the same piece of meat depending on just what you do before cooking. I like to divide this into two different areas: flavouring and everything else.
This isn’t just about herbs and spices, although they do offer a huge variety of tastes to try. You should also include other things like various oils and vinegars. Obviously breadcrumbs are out (whose dumb idea was that anyway?) but you really do have a pretty big list of possibilities. Be careful though. Some combinations really aren’t good news. It is always a shame to destroy a lovely piece of lamb, beef, chicken or whatever by careless use of flavourings.
The aim is to find things that will enhance the natural taste and texture of your food without destroying or hiding it. Once you are weaned off artificial tastes, you will start to appreciate the natural flavour of meat without needing to drown it in other tastes. Subtle is best.
A recommendation that makes sense is to limit the number of flavours you try together. 2 or 3 different tastes are often complementary. Twelve is just a mess!
Don’t be scared to leave your meat for a while to really absorb the herbs, spices and oils. I like to place it in the pan or dish I’ll use for cooking. Massage it well in then leave it to settle for a while before giving it another rub. If the sight and smell of a freshly prepared piece of tender beef glistening with oil and freshly rubbed with thyme doesn’t get your juices flowing, you might not be cut out for Paleo after all!
Of course, everyone remembers herbs and spices (even if they don’t get things quite right) but they often forget that there are other parts to perfect preparation.
Other Ways To Prepare Meat
Even something as simple as how you slice meat makes a big difference to taste. For example, taking very thin slices with an extremely sharp knife changes things. You don’t have to cook this at all. Use either lemon juice or vinegar and then eat it raw. The taste of a really high quality steak prepared like this is exquisite.
Another option is to do just the opposite. This is something that works well with something like tuna but is also great with lamb. You want to cut a a very thick piece and then sear it at a high temperature on the outside (remember to choose your cooking oil carefully). It will cook golden brown on the outside in a matter of minutes and this seals all the juice inside. It is great to eat straight away if you like your meat or fish a little bit pink. If you prefer things that are a bit more thoroughly cooked, you can then slow cook or oven cook at low heat. The meat won’t dry out and will keep a lovely succulent taste and texture.
It is also nice to combine different ways of cooking in one dish. Nobody said that you have to treat all your meat in the same way. Mixing thin strips that have been marinated in nut oil and a nice vinegar for an hour or two with a joint that has been roasted in rosemary or thyme is simply a delight.
I think one of the keys to working with Paleo (and making it work for you) is to treat the kitchen a bit like a laboratory. Try different flavours together. Use marinades, herbs and spices regularly. Associate tastes and flavours to see what works best. If you make this part of your routine in the kitchen there is really no chance of getting bored with your meat and you will have people lining up to come and eat dinner with you too!