Recent Cooking and Meals: Classic caesar dressing, chicken picatta, pork chops, fried potatoes, and beef filet

First of all, image quality is not up to usual standards because I'm away from home and am using my iPhone. But nonetheless, we've been doing 100% home cooking up here at our maintain retreat all week. Here are some selections.

Caesar Dressing
Caesar Dressing

This is completely the classic recipe you can find on the net: raw egg yolks, anchovies, garlic, lemon, parmesan, EVOO. Just for shits & giggles I looked at the list of ingredients on some so-called "high end" bottled caesar dressings while at the market. Total crap. Most even proudly proclaim: "No egg, no anchovy." Then it's not caesar dressing.

Of course, that went on the salad with plenty of shaved parmesan.

Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad

And this went together with chicken picatta.

Chicken Picatta
Chicken Picatta

I basically used this recipe. What I did differently was to use Red Mill corn flour for the dredging and then about half white wine (to deglaze the cooking pan) and half chicken stock. It was really, really tasty. You could make it without the flour, I suppose, but the amount is pretty minimal, it's gluten free, and it helped thicken the sauce.

For "breakfast" the next day I had enough dressing and romaine left, as well as a leftover chicken breast, so I made chicken caesar salads.

Chicken Caesar Salad
Chicken Caesar Salad

That's garnished with some green onion, fresh parsley and of course medium boiled egg. My method for getting a nice medium boiled egg is to bring the pot to a boil, immediately tun off the heat and cover the pan for exactly 10 minutes, then immediately remove the eggs to a cold bath to stop cooking. This gives you a nice soft & moist yolk. For soft boiled, go 5 minutes and for hard, 15 minutes.

For dinner it was going to be pork chops fried in bacon drippings.

Pork Chops Pt 1
Pork Chops Pt. 1

This is one of those comfort foods. The gravy is just a simple chicken gravy where I deglazed the cooking pot with stock, leaving the bacon drippings in place. Make sure you don't salt whatever you're cooking if you do the gravy in the same pan like this.

I'm getting good at making oven fries and it's so much easier than frying in a pan or deep frying, and it uses way less of your valuable animal fats or coconut oil. In oder to get chips that don't break apart when you toss them halfway through the process, I cut the potato in half sidewise, then cut up accordingly. So, they are thicker and shorter and stay together quite well. I used the rest of my bacon drippings. I just put the cold drippings on the cookie sheet, put the cookie sheet on the stove top just long enough to get warm enough to spread the fat around. Then I just toss the chips with my hands to get a good coating. Then they go in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes or until brown. I try to toss them a couple of times during the process. Here's another view.

Pork Chops Pt 2
Pork Chops Pt. 2

I hardly ever eat bacon anymore. I'd say less than once per week, or even less. I just got completely tired of applewood smoked, for example, and most cured bacon tastes unpleasantly salty to me, now. But I was out of bacon drippings and I wanted some fried potatoes and onions with my eggs, so I went and got some bacon for perhaps the first time in a few months.

Bacon and Eggs
Bacon, Eggs & Fried Potatoes

Yesterday morning Beatrice headed out with the dogs for the drive down to SoCal to spend the rest of her vacation week with family, so I was on my own, both for the breakfast above, as well as dinner. Well, I took the opportunity to go full-on carnivore for dinner. Two filets, pan fried in butter and then fired under the broiler with a pat of butter on top of each in order to get that burned butter effect (that's what makes the filets at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse so awesome).

Filets
Filets

I had myself a cup of Häagen-Dazs pistachio ice cream for dessert.

I'm sitting here listening to a recent interview with Dr. Ray Peat someone sent me in email this morning and I'm just marveling at how complicated some people want to make the simple act of getting real food, preparing it, eating it and just enjoying life. I'm becoming increasingly impatient with this sort of nutritional reductionism that seems to serve more a purpose of confusing people so that they flock to certain "gurus" just to know what they can eat. Peat seems like a nice, geeky guy, but I can't say that for some of the others out there.

Eat real food. Stop stressing about it. Enjoy life and share this post if you like it.

Comments

  1. Richard,

    I have been curing my own bacon for about 9 months, and most likely I will never buy bacon from the store again. Starting with a pork belly of about 8-10 lbs, you can have bacon in about 7 days. The recipe I follow is from Saveur – http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Home-Cured-Bacon (or you can look at the very first ever post on my blog).

    …Tim

  2. Melissa says:

    That Caesar salad looks phenomenal. I seem to forget how easy it is to make a good homemade Caesar. And you’re absolutely right the stuff in the store is terrible. Tastes terrible, contains a lot of nasty ingredients, unfortunately.

  3. I’m getting good at making oven fries and it’s so much easier than frying in a pan or deep frying, and it uses way less of your valuable animal fats or coconut oil.

    Me and the kid had fries cooked in ghee for lunch today. It certainly is more labor intensive, but it can also serve as an actual meal. Isn’t the whole point of valuable animal fats to ingest them?

    • Sure Sean, but personally, I never save fats & cook with that are left over, with the exception being bacon drippings, but I always cook bacon very patiently, on the lowest heat setting possible.

      So, given that, by using just the amount I’ll be eating and little more, and not having to discard large amounts from a fry pan or even way worse, deep frying, I actually ingest more of my precious fats.

  4. Do you think SFAs can get screwed up from repeated heat exposure or do you simply prefer not to mess with it?

    • meh, the reply button, how does that work?

    • Sean. The latter. Rather than engage in “nutritionism” one way or the other I just figure I’m “rich enough” that I can afford to use fresh fat each time I cook. In addition, I use bacon fat specifically for the bacon flavor it imparts to things like fried potatoes, fried eggs, or anything else, but that’s a specific purpose. The risk of reusing cooking fats is that they will retain flavor from what you cooked with them previously. Could be a good thing, or could be a bad thing.

      Yea, I just prefer not to bother with it.

  5. I agree so much with your thoughts on “nutritionism.” So many people discuss “optimal health,” but really, just how “optimal” can you get. When someone finds the necessary nutritional breakdown that will enable me to fly or develop telepathy, I’ll follow the protocol however funky it is. Until then, KISS with a primal slant is the best roadmap. If only I could get my mom to chuck her Country Crock though.

  6. my mouth is watering. it’s really really hard to beat a true caesar salad.

    and, yes, the SIMPLE act of eating FOOD has gotten completely out of hand. but, for a couple generations now, actual food has been so hard to come by in the average household and in the neighborhood grocery store, that i can understand people’s confusion.

    we also live in the world of the “expert” and people can’t seem to wipe their own ass without verifying if it’s being done correctly (and women, that’s front to back, in case you’re doing it wrong.)

  7. All looks delicious. I was disappointed when I found out Haagen-Dazs uses safflower oil to toast their pistachios, and Ben & Jerry’s coconut oil, since the former is totally awesome and the latter tastes like some weird chemical experiment. Haagen-Dazs does use coconut oil to toast for their butter pecan though, and its similar in sugar content to the pistachio (low compared to other flavors). Wow, now that I think about it, almost seems like I’m making it complicated!

    • Yea, John, the real solution to me is just have it infrequently Last week while on the way up for a stopover w parents there was some Breyer’s peach icecream in the freeer and I had a few spoonfuls. Now this, but first IC I’ve had in maybe a year.

  8. Alex Good says:

    Just making sure, you aren’t advertising the ice cream as real food, are you? (Kidding!)

    Yeah I usually just eat steak for supper, I’m not big on vegetables. The only time I eat them is when I visit my mom.

  9. That salad looked SO good that my mouth is watering right now. Lucky me I have all the things I need on hand so I will be making that as part of my families dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Does anyone mind commenting on the raw egg thing. You always hear of risk with raw eggs. Is it not true? I really want to make a real mayo for my daughter but am hesitant because of eggs.

    • Mike M, these are yolks. The prob w raw eggs is an antinutient in the white that I don’t remember offhand, but it’s real, by my own experience. I’ve always used whole raw eggs in smoothies all my life, but I only did a smoothie every now and then. When I was doing the Leangains I initially used smoothies a lot to get all the protein I needed, and so I used raw eggs in them, 1-2 per batch. Well, I soon noticed that my toenails were very brittle, breaking off like crazy at the slightest touch. Turns out, from a Chris Masterjohn post, that’s a symptom. Stopped the smoothies and my toenails are supple again.

      Yolks are no porb, nor is intermittent use of the whole egg. I’ve done thousands of whole raw eggs over my lifetime and have never been ill a single time.

      • Thank you for discussing this Richard. I just started to add raw eggs to my smoothies about 1 month ago. I’ve had maybe a dozen raw eggs in that time frame. So far so good.

        I remember reading somewhere where you can pasteurize the egg yolks which will kill the anti nutrient that prevents your body from absorbing biotin.

        Do you think its possible that you were simply biotin deficient? Their are supplements so that is why I am curious.

        The food looks spectacular by the way. You have inspired me to post more of my food as its, well, quite awesome as well ;)

      • I mean pasteurize the entire egg, not just the yolk!

      • I’m not interested enough to look it up, but what I recall was that the antinutrient actually causes the brittleness in nails, i.e., not a downstream effect of deficiency. Sure enough, I stopped and nails went back to normal.

      • Johnnyv says:

        The protein avidin in egg white binds strongly to the biotin in the yolk and prevents absorption in the small intestine.
        Cooking denatures the avidin and prevents it from binding to biotin.
        Brittle nails are a sign of biotin deficiency.
        It looks like it is an antibacterial defense of the egg.

      • Yea, I was really surprised to learn of that symptom and especially so that I had already noticed it, as I’ve never had brittle nails. Just as amazing was how rapidly they went back to being their flexible selves once I stopped so many raw eggs. Now when I do them I just toss the whites, and I don’t do so often. You’re only tossing a few grams of protein anyway.

      • Food sources for biotin:

        “Excellent sources of biotin include chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and carrots. Very good sources include almonds, chicken eggs, onions, cabbage, cucumber, and cauliflower. Good sources includes goat’s milk, cow’s milk, raspberries, strawberries, halibut, oats, and walnuts.”

      • Sweet thanks!

      • The antinutrient is avidin, a protein that binds biotin, as Primal Toad mentioned.

        Apparently there is enough avidin in egg white to bind biotin far in excess of that contained by the rest of the egg…wherein lies the larger problem.

        JS

    • If you’re talking about the salmonella issue, the odds of having a problem from an egg yolk are something like 1:5000 to 1:10,000, if I remember correctly. Most commonly, from what I understand, is the egg coming in contact with a dirty shell.

  11. On raw eggs (specifically, egg yolks): since I have little ones, I gently heat the egg + acid + water mixture before proceeding with recipes. It is pretty easy once you get a little practice:
    1) add egg yolk + acid/water (usually a tablespoon of liquid per yolk for most recipes), adding acid to eggs by itself reduces bacteria count.
    2) *gently* heat eggs to 160 degrees by double-boiling. I put a small sauce pan on gentle simmer, then use a stainless steel mixing bowl and whisk the eggs over the sauce pan. You can control the temperature very precisely by raising the bowl away from the sauce pan. I use an electric thermometer that I keep in the yolk mixture until it reaches 160 degrees, then remove the eggs from heat and continue with the recipe. This sounds like a pain, but I’m so good at it that I think nothing of throwing together a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce these days. Gentle heating + additional liquid means that the egg yolks won’t curdle.

    I am being pretty conservative (or anal) about this, but since I have small children and backyard chickens I decided to take the safer more labor intensive approach.

    For technical details see:
    http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Mayonnaise.html

    • You go, Dan, but I have literally been eating raw whole eggs since I was very small, under 8-yrs-ol (in home made, Orange Julius, at first), and have eaten hundreds or thousands with never, ever a problem all my life. My only problem is when I was doing 2-4 eggs raw whole eggs per day, per my last comment.

      Only you can decide for you, so this is not a rebuke at all, just giving you my very long experience. I have zero fear of raw foods and eat them more and more.

      • I understand and don’t feel rebuked. I suspect a person has better odds of winning the lottery than getting seriously sick from raw eggs, with the exception of that outbreak a few months ago by that out-of-state (I’m in CA) producer. For healthy folks with good immune systems I doubt there is anything to worry about as you have experienced.

        My post was mainly coming from the observation that many people seem scared of raw eggs these days, and this means they end up with sub-par sauces or they buy soybean oil based crap from the store. The classic sauces are relatively easy to make and taste awesome. Using the heat+acid method means that even those who are concerned about safety can partake of healthy home made sauces without worry.

        cheers

  12. Wow, I’ve never made my own caesar dressing before, and it’s been a while since I’ve had it since the stuff at the grocery store is full of junk. I’ve just been using red wine vinegar and EVOO for my salad dressing lately. Thanks for the recipe link! I’ll add this to my growing repertoire of paleo eats. I made my first batch of bacon mayonnaise last week and it was some mean stuff. :)

  13. wow, looks incredibly awesome. i have never attempt my own caesar dressing but if anchovies are affordable i may have to give it a go

    like how a not-about-nutrition post got turned into about the nutrition of an egg post haha, it is never ending. the mind is over half the battle

    about peat-tards, i emailed peat once and got the reply to drink more OJ…right

    i am looking to add the occassional ice cream though its just the crap is so damned expensive

  14. Julia says:

    I made this Caesar dressing today- it was wonderful! :)

  15. Wow. More great looking food. I am hungry again.

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