Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cooking with Bacon Grease

Apologies to my parents and grandparents if you're embarrassed for your son/grandson as you read this, but somehow in my years of cooking I've only just now discovered the joy of cooking with bacon grease.  The frequency with which I cook bacon has gone up considerably with the discovery of first Wright's bacon (which I won in a trail race along with a skillet - best, prize, ever!) and then locally-sourced pasture-raised bacon (shout-out to my friend Jess who runs Green Duchess Farm in central NJ).  The taste of both are remarkably different than your standard store-bought bacon.  You can get Wrights at your grocery store, but it costs $8/lb, which turns most people off - believe me, it's worth it.  And if you're lucky enough to have a local farmer growing and slaughtering pigs, spend the extra money, support local, and your taste buds will love you.

Ok, back to bacon grease.  When cooking certain meats, or skimming fat off soups, I can remember watching my parents put the fat into an empty can, and then tossing it into the freezer.  I don't want to blame them for my next memory, because it could be contrived, but I remember that can of fat then being thrown out when frozen, since it keeps your trash bag from being a greasy hot mess.

I cook a lot of eggs in the morning, typically along with bacon, and I've started to cook the eggs in the bacon grease, first because it was easy, and subsequently because it tastes amazing!  If you're cooking bacon and eggs, and not cooking the eggs in the bacon grease, you're doing it wrong.

When making collard greens the other night, with no bacon handy, I remembered that can of frozen bacon grease sitting in the freezer.  I pried out about half the can (8oz), used it as a base along with an equal amount of canola oil, and two hours later had my best yet batch of collard greens (recipe here)!  While I had the can out, I used the other half of the frozen bacon grease to start the roux for my gumbo.  Two hours later and, you guessed it, my best yet batch of gumbo.

Don't be afraid of fats; do eat high-quality or locally-sourced meats (if you eat less meat overall, the cost balances out); and don't you dare waste that bacon grease!

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