Hi there! Thanks for checking in to Flawed yet Functional today! My name is Emily, and I have been through the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol which taught me that AIP is no joke! It challenged me to think very differently about my food. However, I also learned that AIP friendly food does not have to be difficult. If you are beginning the journey of AIP or Paleo, I’d like to show you some easy meat recipes for beginners. Truly, healthy can be easy!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links which just means if you purchase from the links provided, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you! At Flawed yet Functional, I only reference products that have real value that I actually use.
Simple Meats Can Taste Great
As a food blogger, I understand the temptation to produce more and more complicated recipes. We want to wow you, right? Delicious recipes with tantalizing pictures are all the rage on social media and in blog land. However, that is uninspiring and often demoralizing to the everyday person who is trying to improve their health by making better food choices, but doesn’t know how or like to cook. If it looks like you have to cook complicated things to succeed at AIP/Paleo, then why try?
I’ve been living with the AIP diet for almost 2 years now. Granted, I have reintroduced several things which have eased up on my diet restrictions, but I pushed through almost 45 days of strict elimination period before attempting my first reintroduction. Then it failed, and I went right back to the strict elimination period!
Persevering with a diet of this strictness has taught me how to make delicious food easily. You don’t need copious amounts of spices or additives to make a dish delicious. In fact, I would say you only need one set of spices: salt and pepper.
Black pepper on the AIP diet
Black pepper is not included during the AIP elimination phase. It is considered a “mild caution” spice and a stage 1 reintroduction (black peppercorns fall into the fruit spice category). So if you are in the strict elimination phase, just stick with salt to season your meat. You will definitely enjoy the addition of black pepper, if that reintroduction is successful, at a later date. For now, just use salt.
Dive deep into spices on the AIP diet by reading this article by The Paleo Mom.
Basic Spices For Delicious Meat
Salt and pepper? Yes, you read that right plain old salt and pepper is all you need to create delicious meat. Don’t underestimate the power of this dynamic duo.
Let’s chat for a minute about salt and pepper though. Not all salt and pepper are created equal.
First up, salt, use a natural sea salt or Himalayan salt as your everyday go to salt. Make sure it is free of additives and anti-caking ingredients. I actually really like a salt that’s kind of wet and sticks a bit.
Stay away from the table salt. Contrary to what the label says, you do not need the added iodine in table salt. Also, it is easy to overdo table salt because it is so finely ground. Buy a good quality, pure salt (in bulk to save money then store in a salt box) in a fine grit to vastly improve the quality of your meat.
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a spice lover, don’t neglect adding pepper to your food. Of course, add to your heart’s desire for your level of peppery-ness, but salt and pepper together really do bring out the flavors in any food and don’t necessarily make it spicy.
You can buy peppercorns with a grinder on top at the grocery store, but you don’t have very much control over the fineness of the grind, and they cannot be refilled. I find it to be much more economical to buy a quality pepper grinder and refill it with peppercorns from Costco or Amazon.
We use fresh ground pepper for absolutely all of our cooking. If a recipe, like our breakfast sausage, calls for a large amount of pepper, then I pour the peppercorns into an old coffee grinder and grind it up all at once. So really it’s not much more work to have pre-ground or freshly ground.
Another reason for freshly ground black pepper is that it tastes so much better! You will be astounded at the level of flavor freshly ground pepper has versus pre-ground bought from the store. Pre-ground black pepper was ground who knows how long ago and all ground spices lose their potency over time. Do your cooking and your taste buds a favor, buy fresh peppercorns and grind your own pepper as needed.
Pepper mill note: Our pepper mill came from a specialty kitchen shop near our home. At the time, it cost $25 which I thought was astronomical! Looks like the price has gone up a bit! However, I really stand behind that decision my husband made. Here we are 10 years later still using the same pepper grinder, and it is warrantied for life. Quality really is worth it!
Best process for cooking good meat
Below I have linked some delicious, easy AIP meat recipes, but you can cook delicious meat without a recipe! I want to walk you through the process so you’ll have confidence to just “whip up” those pork chops or burgers the next time you need to get dinner on in a hurry.
Full disclosure: this is not something I have picked up naturally. My husband is the one who is usually does the meat cooking for our family. However, with his work schedule keeping him later in the evening, I have become a grill master and learned how to cook many cuts of meat myself.
Get the cooking device hot
Why do most recipes start with “preheat the oven” or “warm a pan on the stove?” They aren’t joking. It’s not merely a formality. The recipe will turn out better if the skillet, oven, or grill is completely up to temperature before you put the meat on. So it’s important, do your preheating!
Liberally salt and pepper the meat on both sides
Place the piece of meat (any meat!) on a sheet pan with plenty of room to work. This step will be messy! Sprinkle salt and grind fresh black pepper on to both sides of each piece of meat. Don’t be shy either. It’s pretty tricky to over salt unless you’re using table salt, and actually it’s pretty hard to over pepper.
On your first try just do it feels right and take note of how much you put on each piece. Then when you evaluate the meal and later cook it again, try a little bit more and see what happens. You will quickly find your happy level of salt and pepper.
Just put the salt and pepper straight on the meat. You don’t need oil or any other fat…unless you want. It won’t hurt the final outcome to add more fat, but for the sake of keeping these steps very simple there’s no need to add oil.
Cook the meat
The temperature of the cooking surface and the final temperature of the meat is all you need to watch to make sure your meat is cooked perfect and delicious. Use the chart below as a guide for what temperature to have your oven, grill, or skillet heated to and when to pull your meat off.
Ideally, you want to turn the meat only once. So cook 1-3 minutes for beef and pork then turn to finish the cooking. For chicken, if it’s bone-in, cook for 6-8 minutes before turning to finish the cook. For boneless chicken, the flip time will depend on the thickness of the cut. For thinner cuts, flip in 1-3 minutes for thicker, 6-8 minutes.
Meat continues to cook when removed from the cooking surface, so you can pull it five degrees below the desired final temp, and it will finish to the proper cooking temperature resting on the counter.
Thermometer note: An instant read thermometer is essential for proper meat cooking! Don’t waste your money on brand sold at the grocery store. Buy a Thermopen from ThermoWorks. They are the cost of 4 thermometers from the store, but you will burn through those cheap ones in just a few cooks. We’ve been using our Thermopen for at least 8 years, maybe more, and it’s still going strong!
Easy Meat Recipes for Beginners
Okay, now let’s chat recipes. Here are some easy meat recipes for beginners. Try out a few of the ones below to get your sea legs under you (most use more than salt and pepper but they are fairly plain-Jane and delicious!).
Next, try it on your own without a recipe! You can grab any plain meat from the store, toss it with salt and pepper, and cook it with confidence. It will be delicious every time!
Easy Meat Recipes for Beginners Guidelines
- Heat the cooking surface
To ensure proper cooking, always bring the skillet, grill, or oven fully to temperature before placing on the meat.
- Liberally salt & pepper the meat
Use good quality sea salt and fresh ground pepper to sprinkle over both sides of the meat.
- Cook meat until internal temp is reached
Turning the meat only once, cook on both sides until 5° below final temperature is reached (see chart above). Allow meat to rest for 5-10 minute to come to final temp before eating.
That was a serious number of words to explain a very simple concept! I hope you find these tips helpful when preparing your meals in the days to come. Don’t overthink your meat! Just use salt and pepper along with a properly heated cooking surface for awesome meat every time.