Paleo Comfort Foods

On the 5th & 6th of last month,  I had the pleasure of attending the Ancestral Health Symposium on the UCLA campus in Westwood. In addition to the many excellent speakers, I met Julie and Charles Mayfield, authors of the new cookbook, Paleo Comfort Foods.

A few weeks later, I received an advance copy of their book in the mail. You guys might not know this, but I like to barbeque. So much so I have a gas grill for the days when I am in the hurry and for the other 99% of the time, I use a ceramic barbeque/smoker called a Big Green Egg. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Egg, it makes someone who is decent at the grill into a Food Network star. When I use the Egg, I feel like I hosting my own cooking show.

Thumbing through the book, two things hit like a thunderbolt from Olympus.


I have been making chimichurri weekly since taking a trip to Puerto Rico in 2007. We rented a house on the beach and our host, an Argentinean man, made fresh chimichurri daily. I left with the recipe and large bottle of pitorro. Pitorro is Puerto Rican moonshine distilled from sugar cane and cured before drinking. Curing is achieved by adding fruits, such as coconut, grapes, prunes, orange slices and letting the mixture sit for several months. Usually, the bottles are buried in the ground for months as part of the curing process. Imagine smooth tasting gasoline.

I decided to depart from my friend's chimichurri recipe and try Julie and Charles’ version and it did not disappoint. The paprika and white vinegar gave it the right taste.

However, ribs are my specialty and anytime I can find a new take on them, I am game to try.

I started with “Dad’s Famous Secret Dry Rub.”

½ cup of French thyme
½ cup of four peppercorn blend, ground
½ cup of sea salt
4 oz onion powder
4 oz ground cumin
4 oz ancho chili powder
4 oz tumeric, powdered
4 oz minced garlic
4 oz sweet paprika
4 oz cracked rosemary
8 oz mustard powder
8 oz California seasoned peppered
4 oz cayenne pepper, ground

I bought 6 lbs of baby back ribs from the local butcher, a big bag of lump wood charcoal and a large aluminum pan.

I dressed the ribs with the rub, covered them with tin foil and let them sit at room temperature while I fired up the egg. When I got the Egg to around 275- 300 degrees, I threw a big handful of wet wood chips on to get it smoking. I placed the aluminum pan on the grill and filled it about it about ½ up with water. I put the ribs into the pan and closed the lid. I let them smoke/cook for about an hour before flipping them. I let them cook for another hour and pulled them off the grill and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes.

*I have found letting the meat rest is vital because as meat proteins cook, it begins to shrink. Up to 120°F, the proteins shrink in diameter only and there is little moisture loss, but above 120°F the proteins also begin to shrink in length, which really puts the squeeze on moisture. By 170°F, most of the moisture will be squeezed out of a lean piece of meat. As meat rests, this process is partially reversed. The moisture that is driven toward the center of the meat is redistributed as the protein molecules relax and are able to reabsorb some moisture. As a result, less juice runs out of the meat when you cut into it. If you cut into meat right away, almost twice as much liquid is lost than if you let it rest before carving. For a more detailed on how to cook meat consult the meat bible, The River Cottage Meat Book.

The ribs were incredible. The rub gave them just the right flavor and the chili powdered just the right kick. The smoke, heat and water were just the right combo to make these a home run.

Like I said, these ribs were good enough to warrant my own cooking show. Up next are the biscuits made with almond and coconut flour biscuits.

A big thanks to Paleo Comfort Foods for their contribution to Power Athletes everywhere.


John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

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Posted in Diet, Talk to Me Johnnie, Testimonial | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

12 Responses to Paleo Comfort Foods

  1. Clinton is also a good source for a variety of great Paleo recipes. It’s a mom-and-pop site run by a couple at the local CF gym in Columbia, SC. The recipes are free. Highly recommended.

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  9. John,

    So true regarding the Big Green Egg…my kids think I went for some special gourmet chef training when I serve meat grilled on the BGE. Of course I allow them to believe I’m a grilling rock star, but you know as well as I do, it’s the Big Green Egg that deserves the credit.

    I’m proud to say I learned of the BGE right here on TTMJ. Keep up the good work Johnny!

  10. George ~ awesome.

    The BGE is about the best purchase I have made in recent years. I use it almost daily and am always pleased when the meat comes off the grill.

    Glad I could aid in path to bbq rockstar.


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