When it comes to cooking meat, few chefs are as highly regarded as Michael Symon. The pride and joy of the Greater Cleveland area—what with the betrayal of LeBron James two years ago—you’ve probably seen Symon on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, or the ABC cooking talk show The Chew

This month Symon released his second published cookbook; the content of which is a true testament to the “meat-centric” restaurateur. Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers is an epic undertaking of beef, poultry, pork, and several other animal-flesh-friendly recipes. The aptly titled work is basically a bible for meat-eaters, offering up enough classics and variety to satisfy your most carnivorous indulgences. 

In compiling a book of over 100 recipes, Symon still preaches quality over quantity when it comes to meat. “With something so heavily consumed, there is still a lot of confusion over how to shop for it and how to cook for it,” says Symon, who breaks down all the different types of cuts in Carnivore, as well as keys for preparation and technique. Whether you want to “grill, broil, or braise,” Carnivore covers all your bases as far as which cut is best for any given cooking method. 

For the health-conscious carnivore, the cookbook may shock you in that quality cuts of meat are more often paired with produce than starch. “If I’m eating a rich protein, I like to pair it with veggies, or some fresh citrus, 90 percent of the time,” says Symon, who noted that Carnviore’s recipes are very much driven in the direction of a Paleolithic diet.

“Not only are there greater health benefits to pairing meat with fresh vegetables, I believe they compliment each other and taste better together,”  says the chef. For Symon, a steak with horseradish beets is much more appealing than a steak with mashed potatoes, due to the greater contrast in texture and flavor. 

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While shopping for meat that is organic, pasture-raised and free range is important for many, it is also expensive. “It’s all about buying the best you can afford,” says Symon, who encourages buying a pound of properly raised and slaughtered beef, over a pound and a half of stuff he likes to call “schwag.” Symon says that a good three to five ounce portion of protein is just fine, as long as you load on the veggies to fill out your plate. 

Another helpful tip from Symon is exploring uncommon cuts of meat with good sources of protein, which are cheaper than filets and other high-priced options. The chef notes skirt and shank cuts, and for the less timid, hearts and tongues, as options that pack a lot flavor without emptying your wallet. 

With Carnivore, of utmost importance for Symon is embracing meat for what it is – yes, as simple as this sounds, the answer is food. “Beyond how you cook the meat, to me, eating real food is a big part of the satisfaction,” says Symon. “Big protein shakes are not satisfying. I’m all about cooking and consuming as much real food as possible. You don’t need supplements to hit your health and fitness goals.” 

Here are just four of the 120 recipes in Carnivore, to give you a little preview of what the book has to offer. 

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Braised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Kale

A recipe borrowed from a good friend of Symon’s, this tasty concoction features everyone’s favorite green kale, which many are referring to as “the new bacon.” (serves 6) 

Ingredients: 

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onions
  • 2 cups large-diced peeled carrots
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced into rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 11⁄2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 (12-ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 2 pounds kale, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup toasted fresh bread crumbs
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put the chicken skin-side-down into the pot. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is well browned. Flip the pieces and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to brown the other sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, jalapeño, and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and scrape up the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the wine is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
  4. Adjust for seasoning, adding salt if needed, and then add the kale. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir. Put the chicken thighs on top of the kale, put the lid back on, and put in the oven for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, lemon zest, parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and discard the bay leaves. Top the chicken with the bread crumb mixture. Serve family-style right from the pot.

 

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Lamb Burger with Arugula, Feta & Cucumbers 

A nod to Symon’s Greek heritage, this recipe puts a twist on the classic burger. (serves 10) 

Ingredients: 

  • 5 pounds ground lamb (ask your butcher for a mix of two-thirds shoulder and one-third belly)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups crumbled feta
  • 10 hamburger buns, split
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced
  • 2 cups arugula

Instructions: 

  1. Mix the lamb with the coriander, mint, and the lemon zest. Form the meat into 10 patties, making sure you don’t compress the patties too tightly. Try to make the patties slightly wider than the buns, since they’ll shrink a bit when they cook.
  2. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high.
  3. Season the patties liberally with salt and put on the grill. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on your temperature preference. 
  4. When the burgers are almost done, put some feta on each patty to melt while you also toast the buns on the grill.
  5. Put one burger on each of the bottom buns and top with cucumber, arugula, and a nice squeeze of lemon juice.

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Grilled Rib Eyes with Watercress, Blue Cheese & Radish Salad 

You didn’t think we’d go through this preview without a steak, did you? Rib eye is Symon’s cut of choice, and this recipe is also complimented by a nice vibrant salad.  (serves 4) 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 (1-pound) beef rib-eye steaks, preferably dry-aged USDA prime
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced radishes
  • 4 cups watercress
  • 2 cups crumbled blue cheese, preferably Wisconsin

Instructions: 

  1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high.
  2. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Grill the steaks to the desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from the grill and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, honey, Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the radishes and watercress to the dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the top.
  4. To serve, divide the watercress salad and the steaks among 4 plates.

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Grilled Quail with Citrus Glaze

Last but not least, let's class things up with some quail. This versatile dish is not only delicious, but it’s also one of the quickest recipes in the book with a cooking time of less than 10 minutes. (serves 8) 

Ingredients: 

  • 8 semi-boneless quail
  • Kosher salt
  • Grated zest and juice of
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Instructions: 

  1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high.
  2. Liberally season the quail with salt.
  3. In a small saucepan on the grill, whisk together the orange zest and juice, sherry vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, and jalapeño.
  4. Drizzle the quail with a little olive oil and put on the grill. Using a pastry brush, liberally baste the quail with the heated citrus glaze. 
  5. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side, basting the entire time, until the glaze is slightly charred and the quail are cooked through. Remove the quail from the grill and let rest for 2 minutes.
  6. Bring the remaining citrus glaze to a boil.
  7. To serve, split each quail, drizzle with olive oil and the remaining citrus glaze, and top with the chopped tarragon.