Now I wanna be your dog
Credit: Photo by Westend61 via Getty Images

Sometimes when I'm eating dinner with my husband at home, I feel like a wild animal. I'd love to maintain the illusion that I am half of an infallibly sophisticated marriage anchored by candle-lit, home-cooked dinners, plated ever just so on the wedding china, atop the meticulously-set dining room table. We do manage that from time to time (and would all the time if it were up to him), but the vast majority of our evening meals are hunched-over affairs at the coffee table, elbows akimbo to fend off the dogs who are over-excited that we have presented them with snout-level food. We've each (usually) got a cocktail, we're decompressing from the day, the TV is on, but what I'm honestly fixated on is that my beloved spouse is methodically trimming the fat off his chop or filet, and I want it. I want it so very badly.

I eat with my hands. I pick up bones and gnaw off gristle, and unless it's an absolutely ridiculous portion, I relish the fat, sometimes even more than the meat itself. Even the dogs are cocking their heads at me like, take it down a notch, lady, but to his great and kind credit, my husband never says a word. In return I resist the urge to lunge toward his plate and hoard the fat scraps for my breakfast.

Animal fat, especially fat that's recently been attached to meat, is the best fat, and that's a hill upon which I am willing to perish—possibly from clogged arteries. But then again, fat like that isn't quite as bad for you as we were all brought up to believe. It's all very complicated; here's a Harvard study, please enjoy. When I say "best" here, I mean in the context of flavor, and I'm not talking about using bucketloads of it. What I'm saying is that if I've got it on hand, I'll throw some steak trimmings, the thick white edge of a ham slice, a few slim slices of the cap from a long-cooked pork shoulder, or—blessed be—the scraps from an supremely gamey lamb roast, render them in a skillet, and use that glorious grease to add flavor to my morning meal.

Olive and sesame oils are my standard cooking fats at most meals. (My nutritionist pushes for coconut oil, but I have not emotionally arrived at a place where I'm cool with it.) But unless I'm going for a super-puffy basted egg where olive oil is a must, animal fat is where it's at for me. Most sensible carnivores are well aware of the little oomph that bacon fat can bring to most dishes but there is, I swear, a world beyond bacon, and if you eat meat, you owe it to yourself to explore. And you're going to have to DIY it a little because unless you have easy access to vats of suet (which doesn't taste nearly as wonderful as steak fat), you must poach it from your meat, and dinner is a great place to start.

It's not difficult—save for resisting the urge to gobble yours all up at night, or distracting your dinner companion(s) enough to swipe the trimmings from their plates (obviously not anything they've chewed and set aside, because while I'm occasional semi-feral, I'm not an actual canine). Just pull it out of the fridge in the morning, slice it as thin or as thick as you'd like, and heat it in a medium-hot skillet until it liquifies, dump out whatever you deem to be too much (and seriously, save that white gold in a jar to use later), and cook your potatoes and eggs in it. It's such a small thing that adds so much flavor to simple ingredients, and makes breakfast feel more satisfying, even if there aren't actual big honkin' chunks of meat in the meal. It's just enough to tame my urges.