Waste Not, Want Not: What to Cook with Bacon Fat
Confess! Are you committing the cardinal sin of throwing away your bacon grease after frying a large batch or washing the pan immediately? Well, stop it right this instant! Because bacon grease is an amazing treasure you should take advantage of every day. It’s simple and fun to cook with bacon fat, so let’s get started immediately.
Warning: The following article might make you want to cook bacon more frequently, just to gather up even more bacon grease for your pleasure. But that’s ok, since fried bacon is tasty, and crispy, and can be incorporated into so many dishes! But what to cook with bacon fat? Well, let me tell you, the possibilities are endless. And even desserts are on the table when you want to cook with bacon fat!
Rendering the bacon fat
Before we get to the bacon-infused menu, let’s talk a little bit about rendering the bacon fat. It sounds fancy, but it’s not a complex and trying technique. It basically refers to how to cook your bacon to crispy perfection while at the same time you allow the fat to melt and end up at the bottom of your pan. From there, it will hopefully end up stored in beautiful mason jars, awaiting use.
Rendered bacon fat looks like a greasy paste. In fact, it looks quite similar to lard when it solidifies and reaches room temperature. And you only need one teaspoon to make some delicious food with a smoky pork-like flavor. So how do you work with it so that you can store it in your pantry? You’ll need a larger than usual quantity of bacon. So maybe do this when you’re cooking with a full house. Or you could just make a lot of bacon for yourself, which I selfishly do.
Start with a cold pan
If you want to get the most fat from the bacon you’re frying, it’s best to start with the cold pan because that way the fat will be eliminated slowly and surely. And most importantly, it won’t burn. Also, set the stove to a medium-low temperature. That means you need some patience for the task, but thankfully, bacon is thin and cooks easily even with low temps. Also, you should use a cast-iron skillet with a heavy bottom. It will take about 10-12 minutes.
A standard pack of bacon you buy at the store will probably yield about half a cup of solidified bacon grease. Make sure that the bacon doesn’t have any flavor. Because that will limit the potential uses of the fat in the future.
Strain the fat to eliminate impurities
After you’ve cooked the bacon, use a fine mesh sieve to strain the bacon grease in your jar, before it goes all solid on you. You need to remove all those brown black bits that are just burnt bacon meat. And end up being impurities in the grease. Do the straining directly over your container. Use a jar with a wide mouth, so that it will be easier for you to scoop it out when you use it in the future. Whatever you do, don’t use plastic because it might melt and ruin everything.
The jar of bacon fat lasts a long time in the fridge, about a month. But it probably won’t because you’ll be using it frequently.
How to cook with bacon fat
This you need to remember: to use bacon fat, you have to heat it, because it’s no good to you at room temperature, in a solid manner. So you can’t use it instead of vegetable oil to dress a salad. You need to heat it first and then use it however you choose.
There are some cases of recipes that require room temperature or even cold bacon fat. It’s mostly used as the fat in all manner of doughs, including pie crust and cookie dough. Yeah, you read that right.
What to cook with bacon fat
1. Coat vegetables with it
You can make a sheet pan of your-choice roasted vegetables using just one tablespoon of your magical bacon fat. Just heat it up and drizzle it all over the baking sheet. Or you can saute the veggies in the bacon fat. The recipe is similar. Add a dollop of bacon fat in the pan, let it melt, and then sate the veggies of your choice in it.
2. Use it to roast meat
Pork fat on other kinds of meat equals love? Why yes, it does. The thing is to rub the bacon grease, lightly melted, over the whole chicken you’re popping in the oven, the drumsticks, or the full cut of pork you are planning on turning into a roast. But attention! In most recipes, the idea is not to use too much extra salt, because the bacon is already pretty salty.
3. Bake with bacon grease
There are so many dessert ideas out there that borrow the smoky, pleasant flavor of bacon. You can make some fatty and fluffy brownies. You can execute some pretty killer biscuits or cookies. Use it as the fat in your pancakes and the fat that cooks your pancakes in the pan. You can use it to pop your popcorn and have the greatest flavor for your movie time snack.
4. Use it for sauces
What is mayonnaise made from? Fat, as in oil, and eggs, right? Well, you can make amazing mayonnaise – some funny people on the internet dubbed it baconnaise. Once again you need to liquify the bacon fat to do this, but then you mix it in the yolks, and something delicious and audacious appears. Then take this mayo and turn it into any mayo-based sauce you want!
5. Soup up!
You can make some bacon grease-improved cream soup, by cooking the veggies you want to put in there in bacon fat and then blend everything together. Or else, in any kind of soup that requires oil and fat, you can add some bacon fat while cooking, so that it melts while the soup is cooking.