A Very Low Carb Meal and a Moderate Carb Meal

To demonstrate what I mean by mixing things up, not trying to go for the same macronutrient ratios all the time, here’s two examples from dinners two days in a row, yesterday and the night before.

First up is a simple Burger, Sauce & Salad.

Since first posting about getting to the perfect burger, I’ve been doing a good amount of experimenting. What I believe I’ve settled on is reversing the process. Oven first, then sear it. What seems to be a huge factor, logically so, is the temperature of the ground beef going in. Accordingly, I make sure it’s about room temperature and if you don’t have time to just let it come to that naturally over a few hours, 30 minutes or so in warm water does the trick.

Make sure not to pack the burgers so that the melted fat and other juices have someplace to stay and don’t ooze out. Currently, I’m using a 200 degree oven on conventional bake for an hour. I’m going to try 175 next time. So, here was the very low carb meal. All images can be clicked for the higher resolution versions

Burger Sauce
Burger & Sauce

For the sauce, simple and ruin proof as can be. I seared the burger, about a minute per side or two in butter, in a cast iron. Make sure you baste it, so you’ll need enough butter to spoon the hot oil over it. You can also tilt the pan from side-to-side so the hot butter sears the sides.

Couple of minutes total should do it. Then you take ’em out and set aside, add some beef stock to the butter (maybe 1/2 cup for a pound of burger and a good 1/4 or so stick of butter). Let it reduce until almost there, and in this case, my new favorite is a few tablespoons of high quality balsamic vinegar. Reduce a bit more. It’s really a tasty sauce. Incidentally, you can make your own quality balsamic by getting the cheap stuff and reducing it to about 1/4 its original volume. Tastes pretty much the same to me.

Pink Burger
Pink Burger

In case this looks raw or rare to the untrained eye, it’s actually medium. But it retains its pinkness because of the slow cooking. I had a green salad alongside, so a few carbs in the balsamic, a few in the salad.

Next up is Pork Carnitas, Apples and Rice.

The rice is straightforward. I cooked two cups of Thai jasmine rice in 4 cups of water and 2 cinnamon sticks.

Then, to make carnitas out of regular roasted or braised pork, you make sure it’s drained of liquid and refrigerated so the fat is solid. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 400 until it’s brown (caramelized on top) and sizzling. A minute or two under the broiler is a good way to finish it off.

In the meantime, lots of butter into the pan, melt, and sauté your apples. Sprinkle liberal cinnamon on it at the end. Provided you have your roast pork already done and refrigerated, and rice cooked, this is like 10 minutes to put together and it’s just grand.

Pork Apples
Pork, Cinnamon Apples & Rice

No idea what the carb count is, but certainly not off the scale.

Pork Apples 3
Pork & Apples Round 2

And also, perhaps some of you are not very carb sensitive, others are. Well, then, perhaps that’s the difference between some people having a meal like this once a day, and someone having one once per week, and all the options in-between.

As always, you go what seems to be working best for you over a period of time. OK, one more pic. This was very, very good. I’ve always loved fruit with pork. Way back when, I used persimmons. And yet another time, with cherries and oranges.

Pork Apples 2
Pork & Apples Round 3

Eat well, eat big, and sometimes don’t eat anything at all.


  1. Jon on January 11, 2012 at 13:32

    I’m surprised at how pink that burger is for being in the oven for an hour. Interesting. Will definitely try it. Also, love the idea of the butter sauce reduction. Drooooool…..

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 13:35

      Happened by accident. Didn’t have any red wine handy and though hey, I wonder how balsamic would work. Truth is: better.

  2. Bay Area Sparky on January 11, 2012 at 13:46

    I’ll add a cooking tip here.

    It’s not uncommon practice for some making a balsamic glaze to add just a tiny bit of brown sugar or unrefined sugar just to cut the acid a wee bit and balance the tartness. This can be done during reducing or afterwards. After would be better simply because you’re not guessing at the finished balance.

    It’s also not uncommon to add a few pats of butter to said glaze at the end to add a bit of creaminess to the finish.

    Like you said Richard, it depends on each person’s tolerance (desired or biological) for carbs, particularly saccharides.

    A glaze (particularly one without pan drippings) can be kept in the fridge and used afterwards as a condiment and is excellent on salads.

  3. Digger on January 11, 2012 at 14:50

    A lot a cheaper “balsamic vinegar” already has sugar added. Check the ingredient list.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 15:47

      You’re probably right about that. On the other hand, the equivalent of a teaspoon or thereabouts is probably no biggies in terms of proportion.

      Actually, I always get the quality stuff. One time camping, a few years back there was only the cheap stuff, so I did the reduction trick.

  4. Chris on January 11, 2012 at 15:29

    I saw rice and literally recoiled, like an angry snake. Then I saw the term ‘carb sensitivity’ (the first time I’ve ever heard it), and I got to thinking. So I Googled. Lo and behold:

    “Endomorphic individuals are thought to be most carb sensitive . . .”

    And I’m an endomorph. This seems to explain a lot about my personal trials with weight. My personal Paleo diet has been an experiment not unlike a roller coaster, and I’ve found the most success (see: weight loss, muscle mass, energy, health markers, yada-yada-yada) with a lower carb version.

    Son of a bitch.

    Along with the malnutrition post this has really served to open my eyes. Jesus wept, so much of the diet and exercise advice out there is SOO wrong. I should know; I’m a former vegan. I’m a former lot of things.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 15:49

      Yea, rice may not be for everyone, but I seem to do fine on it with the modest amount I eat it, probably an average of a cup, 2-3 times per week. That’s like 130g rice carbs in a whole week.

      • carey on January 11, 2012 at 19:55

        it think each cup of rice has about 130 grams of carbs.i,m doing a higher protein version(lifting weights)of perfect health diet.i try to get at least 80 grams of carbs per day.i feel alot better than very low carb.if trying to lose weight keep carbs at 80 to 150 per day ,protein at 150 per day and cut as much fat as you want or can stand.kinda like lyle,s rapid fat loss too.lot of good researchers and bloggers coming out with the same type of diet these days.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 20:24

        “it think each cup of rice has about 130 grams of carbs.”

        Nope. If cooked, it’s about 40isj.

      • carey on January 11, 2012 at 20:46

        what kind of rice do you use?
        i just checked mine in the fridge.the box says 30 grams preparred rice has 24 carbs.i measured i cup of cooked rice,it weighed 150 grams.so 150 dived by 30 =5 so 5 x 24 carbs =120carbs per cup.

        at least that,s what my white rice says.is there differences in types of white rice?

      • carey on January 11, 2012 at 20:56

        i just checked,it,s uncle bens 10 minute rice .i think it has added mono and DIGLYCERIDES.maybe this ups the carb count.it does however list 0 grams of sugar but also 0 gram of fibre.

        who new rice was so different and manipulated by the big companies.i thought white rice was white rice.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 08:04

        Sure it says prepared? I typically use Thai Jasmine rice and 1/4 cup DRY is 45g weight and 35g carb. Of course, dry weight and cooked weight is substantially different, as the rice absorbs twice its volume in water. 1/4 cup dry is going to be near a full cup cooked, so 3 cups is likely going to be in the 130-150g carb range.

        That number comes from FitDay, I believe, when some months ago I did a check on it for a cup of cooked rice.

  5. Primal Toad on January 11, 2012 at 15:31

    Yum to both meals!

  6. Digger on January 11, 2012 at 15:56

    I saw a French Chef on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” cook “Zee Best ‘Amboorgare” in much the same way (season with salt and pepper, seer it in butter). That’s also what I do, but also throw in a bunch of Spanish onion or shallots at the same time to caramelize them.Then soak it in hot sauce and top with guacamole.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 16:11

      When I was exchange with the French navy, they has steak hache reasonably often and I was always amazed at how uniform and all was perfectly pink it was. Never asked how they did it, but now I have an idea.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2012 at 16:12

        Effing iPad soft keyboard…..

    • LXV on January 11, 2012 at 16:49

      Carnitas is food of the gods and apples would be a natural marriage there. (Steak tartare with piping hot fries is the other food of the gods)

      • Jasen on January 12, 2012 at 09:49

        My wife makes carnitas boiled in lard. Delicous!! hers are the best I’ve had.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 09:59

        Yea, have had them that way before, in fact, at a winery event last summer. They did them right there on site. Rendered down the pork belly and then did the carnitas.

      • Jasen on January 12, 2012 at 11:28

        A while back I purchased some pastured pork from my local grassfed butcher. We rendered the fat and mixed it in the masa for tamales. OMG what a difference! Tamales are not paleo I know but as you say “Sin well!”

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 11:33

        Yep, and too many S American cultures that soak corn (which I think you do for masa) that are healthy not to consider it one of the more benign neo foods, sensibly consumed.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 11:36

        During the Xgiving holidays a bro in law brought down some home made hot tamales he gets. Pork is always my fav and these were off the scale hot pork. Supposed to eat them w beans & rice as buffers, but I just went for it. With hot coffee (breakfast). By itself and it was a mouth and lip burn for a couple of hours,

        Love it. Experience your food on a multi-sensory level, including sweat.

      • Jasen on January 12, 2012 at 11:52

        Being married to a Mexican I consume quite alot of tortillas and masa. Other than that I do eat mainly paleo. Fresh hot corn tortillas are just too hard to resist!

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 11:57

        Married also to a Mexican. I love love love the small fresh tacos on fresh corn tortillas. Don’t eat them much, but when I do, I use the second tortilla just to hold stuff in place, but only bite into the first one. That way, I can eat double.

      • Jasen on January 12, 2012 at 14:21

        Here in San Diego there is a grassfed butcher shop in La Jolla called Homegrown Meats. I order alot of tripe, lips, tongue, brain, and cabeza from them. My son-in-law cooks the meat and makes tacos. With chopped onion, cilantro, homemade salsa y limon. MMMMM!! Heaven on earth. We eat quite well at our house.

    • Jasen on January 12, 2012 at 11:33

      I remember that episode. I wanted the reach through the TV screen and grab that burger!

  7. GiGi Eats Celebrities on January 11, 2012 at 21:35

    That pink burger is CALLING to me!

  8. rob on January 12, 2012 at 06:12

    I was watching Caddy Shack the other day and got to the scene where the caddies bet on whether the rich kid will eat a booger and it got me to thinking, boogers are probably the most paleo thing you can eat, so that movie was what, 20 years ahead of its time?

  9. Keith Thomas on January 12, 2012 at 10:35

    When my son was mincing beef from a steer he killed, he put the meat through the mincer only once and used a large gauge plate. The cuts he used had more fat than shop-bought meat and the combination was superb. My personal preference when mincing my own is to include gristle – just love that chewiness, even though it does get jammed down between my teeth.

  10. jay jay on January 13, 2012 at 11:11

    Are you still doing sous vide, Richard? That’s my current favorite way to make a burger.

    I start with 75/25 mix, form the light ball/patty like you do, then put them on a baking sheet and freeze them. Then salt and pepper and vacuum seal with a light pressure. I keep a supply in the freezer all the time.

    Then just plop them in the cooker (straight from frozen is fine.) I like to do mine at 135 degrees, but YMMV. When you start them frozen, the water temp will drop. I just watch for it to get back up to 135, then leave them in there for another half hour, or longer. I’ve done plenty for 12 hours or so, just for convenience (start them in the morning before work so they’re ready at dinner time). They get a little softer as time goes on, but that’s about it.

    Then dry them a bit with paper towels, and sear just like your approach. Sometimes if I want some super crust, I sear them on a super hot cast iron griddle or pan, without oil. If you wait long enough to flip them,they won’t stick.

    You will also have some nice juices left in the pouch, which you can stir into a sauce, or keep a day or two for another use.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2012 at 11:15

      Thems excellent suggestions jay jay.

      I broke out the SVS recently for a dish I can’t recall. Oh, yea, elk steaks.

      I did burgers once but did not like how the vacuum sealing squeezed them. By golly, you’ve solved that issue. Brilliant. I must try it.

      • jay jay on January 13, 2012 at 12:02

        Just don’t suck them too hard, or they’ll still flatten out a bit in the cooker. (That sounds almost dirty.) I have a Foodsaver, so I just hit the “seal” button before a full vacuum is achieved.

        You don’t need to be anal about getting every last drop of air out of there. When I was between Foodsavers, I cooked many things in zip lock bags, with no issues.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2012 at 12:08

        Yea, I tend to think the vacuum is a bit of a gimmick on the whole thing. Precise temp trumps.

        I have a Foodsaver too.

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