As most of you know, the Booze Hound and I are in the middle of our Paleo Challenge through our local CrossFit Ktown. What this means is that for 10 weeks we are eschewing all grains and dairy in favor of a diet consisting exclusively of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies. Oh yes, and lots of tasty fat.
It’s supposed to mimic the type of diet our paleolithic ancestors ate, with some modern exceptions that are permitted due to their low insulin promotion, like butter, heavy cream and a little red wine here and there. I firmly believe that if the paleolithic peeps discovered wine, we’d all be running around in loin cloths spearing elk because their would be no need to evolve further once red wine was in the discussion.
All in all, except for the tears I shed watching the pizza commercials in the NHL playoffs, the Challenge is going well. You know I love me some baking and I love love love me some dairy products, and it has been hard to go without, but hey- it’s only 10 weeks. And it’s supposed to be hard- that’s why it’s a Challenge.
And really, who wouldn’t benefit from a steady stream of fruits and veggies? And nice, healthy fats from nuts and grass-fed animals? We feel great, and our HDL “good” cholesterol has soared and our LDL “bad” cholesterol has dropped even more (wasn’t high to begin with but downward movement is always good!). So heed my warning low-fat, high-carb lovers… it’s the endless supply of sugar in the American diet that they’re finding is the main culprit behind the chronic disease epidemic, and NOT fat.
But lest you think I turn into a paleolithic woman who wears a tiger fur to work and doesn’t believe in deodorant, think again… I have a recipe for salted caramel brownies on my fridge, and a day-by-day countdown till I get to make them 🙂 After all, I live to eat, and a life without brownies, croissants, cake and baguette is a cold and empty life, indeed.
But here’s something I don’t like about the Paleo diet: there’s nothing sexy.
Wait, excuse me, there’s bacon. OK, so there’s nothing sexy aside from bacon. And one cannot live on bacon alone. Can one…??
There are some people who get all kinds of hot and bothered by a nice slab of juicy steak, all sizzly and marbled. I enjoy a nice, grilled steak as much as the next Hound, but I’m looking for something special.
Maybe the paleolithic man would have stuck around longer if he had, actually, used some sugar. Think about it… Paleo Man is courting a Paleo Lady. He wants to impress her, but he has a rival. Paleo Man spears her a wooly mammoth for meat and wooly warmth for the winter. Rival Man makes her creme brulee.
Game, set, match Rival Man. I wouldn’t have minded being a little chilly in the Ice Age for a creme brulee.
So it’s my job as the Food Hound to find something sexy. After all, the Booze Hound and I need something fabulous for our FIVE-YEAR anniversary this week. I’m fresh out of saber-toothed tiger, and the Booze Hound knows that a wooly mammoth just isn’t my style. The Doberhound sheds enough.
Luckily, Food and Wine heard my plight and printed Salmon with Red Wine-Balsamic Sauce. That’s not just Paleo sexy. That’s all-around sexy. Seared salmon topped with a rich, syrupy sauce of red wine, cream and butter. Yowzah!
I’m not going to lie, I saved the leftover sauce to use on grilled steak next week. If you’re trying to impress the love in your life (whether s/he sports a loin cloth or Burberry boxers), make this sauce and serve it with your meat or fish of choice. In fact, you could even pour it over wooly mammoth and it would be good. I licked my plate. Hey, the Ice Age might start tomorrow, gotta savor every drop!
But it better not come before I get to make my salted caramel brownies 🙂
Salmon with Red-Wine Balsamic Sauce
Adapted from Food and Wine
2 T good olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 thyme sprig
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 c dry red wine
1/4 c good balsamic vinegar (great one here from Avanti Savoia!)
2 T heavy cream
4 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (I use pasture butter in everything, FYI)
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
4 6-oz salmon filets
1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 T of the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme sprig, black pepper, red wine and balsamic vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 T, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, then whisk in the butter, 1 T at a time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Strain into a bowl and keep warm.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 T olive oil until shimmering. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin-side up. Cook over moderately high heat until the filets are browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook over moderate heat until the fish is just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes longer. Slide each filet off of its skin and transfer to plates. Spoon the sauce over the fish and garnish with ground black pepper. Serve immediately.