ou know who you are. You're the one who goes to the dinner party with a roast turkey sandwich to hide in the refrigerator, just in case the hosts have once again decided to turn vegetarian after their latest adventure at the yoga retreat. You're the guy who considers a baked potato loaded with bacon bits, sour cream, chives and melted cheese as that meal's "vegetable." You're the girl who scrunches up her nose in disgust at her friends who, given a spectacular menu filled with eighty varieties of smoked, roasted and seared wild game, order the side salad (with the dressing on the side). You're the one with the bumper sticker that reads: "There's room for all God's animals...right next to the mashed potatoes." In short: You are a carnivore.
Being a carnivore is a wonderful thing, given the splendiferous bounty of edible animals available to us, and the myriad ways in which to prepare and enjoy them. It must be noted, however, that humans are not true "carnivores," but omnivores. If you tried to eat like a lion -- a diet of nothing but raw wildebeest, say -- it wouldn't be too long before you started experiencing some rather uncomfortable and eventually serious gastrointestinal side effects. So, as much as we love the steaks and chops, chickens, ducks, quail, boar, and every other delicious beast we can get our hands on, it's still important to make sure you balance your diet. Here are a few tasty ideas for getting ample veggies into your life, without sacrificing our beloved meat.
Wrap It In Ham
It almost goes without saying, but nearly any vegetable can be improved upon with the addition of pork. One of our favorite veggie treats is grilled asparagus, lovingly wrapped in prosciutto, grilled and drizzled with good, syrupy balsamic vinegar. The same goes for appetizers. At your next dinner party, why not start the evening off by smearing long strips of thinly sliced prosciutto with cream cheese, wrapping it around a fresh cucumber, then slicing and serving? Your guests will be happy you did.
Still on the pork tip, bacon is a wonderful addition to...well, just about anything we can think of. Especially vegetables. Sprinkling even a meager amount of crispy bacon to your salads and veggie sides is an all but guaranteed way to please the carnivores in your life. We love "devils on horseback" as an appetizer: almond and ricotta-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. Even better, use your bacon as the base of your dish. A fantastic winter-time side is bacon-braised kale. Simply dice your raw bacon and render the fat in a large skillet. Reserve the cooked bacon, and then use the remaining fat to sauté the blanched greens. Once they're nice and soft, remove from the pan and add the bacon for a meaty, leafy dish that every meat-lover will enjoy.
Don't Forget The Fat
Speaking of cooking with hot fat, always remember that you don't need butter or oil to sauté vegetables. As above, bacon fat will crisp up some veggies beautifully, for a powerful, savory side. We also adore employing goose or duck fat for this purpose. Given some practice, you can even confit some veggies if you really want to impress!
The Big Salad
Having "just a salad" as a meal is anathema to almost any card-carrying carnivore. That is, of course, if you don't employ a generous helping of meat. If you have the tendency to cook more than your guests can eat at your grill parties, a great way to "dispose" of the leftovers is to cut them into manageable bites, then toss them into a big bowl filled with fresh vegetables, a sprinkle of aged parmesan cheese and some good vinaigrette. Steak salad, roast chicken salad, duck salad, smoked quail salad...all it takes is a few leftovers and a bunch of veggies to cobble together a fast, healthy, meaty lunch or dinner.