In my personal opinion, pork is [by far] the most underrated meat. [I also think boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most overrated cut of meat, but that's completely irrelevant to this post.] Yes, I’m a die-hard carnivore and I appreciate a nice, perfectly-seared steak as much as the next person. But a slow-roasted pork shoulder that literally falls away from the bone? Now that’s how you pull on my heart strings. Unfortunately, there are a lot of recipes out there that simply prepare pork all wrong; leaving it too tough, or with too little flavor. Simon Miller’s Zenbelly version is NOT one of those recipes.
If you follow me on Instagram @30Paleo, you’ve probably noticed I’m not in Pittsburgh with the Primal Palate team. I’m currently home in Iowa for two weeks for some much needed family time. And therein lies the beauty of working from home: I’ve been able to spend some quality time in Iowa, work for Primal Palate, and COOK. UP. A. STORM. My goal during my time at home is to freeze a month’s worth of meals for my dad, for the evenings when my mom works late. I plan to write an in-depth post on freezing meals in the upcoming weeks, but for the time being, let’s focus on Zenbelly.
If you want a solid cookbook that covers a wide variety of Paleo cooking, The Zenbelly Cookbook is it. It is definitely one of the most well-balanced cookbooks I’ve seen, offering a variety of recipes for almost every course or cuisine. You can make your own eggs Benedict using her lemony hollandaise sauce in the condiments section, find a recipe for almost any cut of meat (including whole rabbit and duck legs) from her list of entrees, get your “pizza fix” on using her bread sticks or pizza crust recipes, or you can start your day off with a bowl of Sweet Cinnamon Cereal. I can’t lie, had I had all my “Paleo baking ingredients,” here with me in Iowa, you would be reading a very different review. Paleo Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Come on.
I love that the simplest recipe turns out to be the one bursting with flavor. Simone’s Cocoa-Chili Pork Shoulder has a mere three steps, with a prep time listed at 10 minutes. It may have taken me three. There’s no marinating or over-night refrigeration – simply cover the pork shoulder with the spice mixture and set in the oven. It was so incredibly easy to make, I was able to make and freeze two more dishes while it was cooking. I did not have a dutch oven on hand, so I simply covered the pork in a regular casserole dish. The suggested cook time was 3-4 hours, and I took the roast out at exactly four hours.
And it was perfect.
The pork was literally falling apart as I took the lid off the casserole dish. And the flavor was amazing. I’m always a little skeptical of recipes that use cocoa powder as seasoning, but this was unbelievable. My dad kept trying to guess what the “secret ingredient,” was, saying the meat had a bit of sweetness to it. He guessed everything from orange juice to applesauce, and couldn’t believe it when I said it was cocoa. My mom described the meal as “fabulous.” We do not overuse the word fabulous in Iowa.
I can name at least four other recipes I’m dying to make from Simone’s book, including: plantain tortillas, fresh herb lamb burgers with raita, coffee-rubbed flat iron fajitas, and her lemon pound cake. No matter what you’re craving, or what your cooking skill set may be, I’m SURE you can find something amazing in Simone’s book. So go order it from Amazon!
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