Monday, January 12, 2009

Not At All Vegetarian Broccoli

You might think that it would be difficult to make a vegetable unsuitable for a vegetarian, but it's not. In fact, if you order a vegetable dish at any French, Cuban, or Southern restaurant, there's a good chance that it will have equal parts vegetable matter and pork or duck fat. Is that wrong? Not necessarily.

I sautéed the above broccoli in bacon fat and then finished it off with a quick steam in reduced chicken stock. Before you ask yourself what kind of monster uses two different kinds of animals to make one vegetable, allow me to explain.

First off, like all meat that I make at home, both animal products featured here came from reliably sustainable sources, one just down the road. Second, you'll notice that there isn't any actual meat in the dish, just a couple natural remainders of a meat eater's kitchen: I make stock from chicken bones that I freeze over time, and the bacon fat came from what else but making bacon.

Using animal products as a teaser rather than a feature presentation could go a long way in improving the health of our planet, as many have already pointed out, most notably Mark Bittman. This is especially true when the animal product in question is leftover from a previous dish and might otherwise have been discarded.

I eat meat, but I eat way more vegetables, and in fact many dishes that I cook are either deliberately or coincidentally vegetarian or vegan. Straddling both worlds as I do, I am familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of both camps. But one thing is clear: when you cook broccoli with a little bacon fat and chicken stock, you'll want to eat a whole lot more broccoli.

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