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Nov 19, 12:13 PM EST

Ski resorts indulge in gut-busting, decadent food


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Forget that fresh arugula and grilled chicken salad. This season, ski resorts are letting us indulge with a new slate of warm, hearty comfort foods. They might not be the healthiest thing on the mountain, but after a day of racing down the slopes, they are just what skiers are craving.

Warm bowls of chili and greasy cheeseburgers are long-time staples of ski cuisine. But this season's comfort foods go beyond chicken fingers and curly fries.

At Colorado's Copper Mountain, skiers who pop into the Sugar Lip Donuts eatery can now indulge in Little Piggies, which are maple bacon doughnuts. Down the road at Vail's Four Seasons Resort & Residences, guests can put on some extra calories with "That's Just Wrong Dog," a Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in house-cured maple bacon with blue cheese coleslaw and heirloom tomato ketchup.

And in Utah, the Goldener Hirsch Inn & Restaurant at the Deer Valley Resort has unveiled a Rocky Mountain Poutine - a Western twist on the Canadian specialty - with braised lamb and cheese curds (both locally sourced), crispy fries and lamb gravy. It's described by the restaurant as a "rib-sticking, heart-pounding, I-better-ski-some-more" dish.

"After a day of hard skiing, who wants just a salad? So this season we're seeing more savory, high-calorie options," said Susie English, director of communications for Ski Utah. "There are so many creative chefs. They love to create these amazing feasts and dishes. It's so much more exciting for them."

Of course there are still plenty of healthy options - and a growing number of gluten-free dishes - but let's face it, most skiers are on vacation and want to indulge.

Professional skier Chris Davenport spends about 200 days a year skiing. Each day on the mountain burns a lot of calories.

"You need something substantial to fill that tank," Davenport said. "A salad or a sushi roll isn't going to do it."

But sometimes you need to be in the know in order to get these decadent dishes.

The "That's Just Wrong Dog" started last season as an off-menu item at Flame, the steakhouse at the Four Seasons Vail. It was only served to friends of the restaurant staff and other skiers who knew to ask for it. Word spread and this summer, the over-the-top dog was added to the menu. It's now the top-selling item for room service.

"It might sound like it's going to kill you, but it probably won't," said Jason Harrison, executive chef at the hotel.

Utah's Montage Deer Valley has taken a skiing staple - the burger - and added extra after extra after extra. The beef is topped with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and barbecue sauce. Really adventurous diners can add on foie gras, bacon and guacamole. Yep, that's going to require a long day of skiing to burn off all those toppings.

New this season at Vermont's Stowe Mountain Lodge is a hearty "truffled pot roast of beef" with whipped potatoes, carrots, watercress and a horseradish cream.

Finally, there is the Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at Element 47 at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colo. (not to be confused with Little Piggies at Copper Mountain). The Three Little Piggies consists of a quarter-pound (about 115 grams) of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle. If that weren't enough, the whole thing is topped off with a fried farm egg.

The sandwich is not on the menu and can only be ordered on powder days when Aspen has received 4 or more inches (10 centimeters) of fresh snow. It's meant to fill up skiers before a long day on the mountain - the type of day when you might want to ski through lunch.

"It's big. It's definitely a hearty ski day breakfast," said The Little Nell's executive chef, Robert McCormick. "If you're going to be out there all day, you need a little fuel."

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott .

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