Of the many little pieces of culture shock my Connecticut-raised boyfriend experienced when he moved to Kentucky (the pronunciation of “aunt,” “iron,” and bibbed overalls among them), Southern cooking has been a bit of a revelation for him. Biscuits and gravy? Pecan pie? BACON FAT?
It was a real shock to me to learn that some of y’all aren’t saving your bacon grease for later use. Why not? For all intents and purposes, bacon fat is extremely flavourful lard. Anywhere you use it, it will impart a smoky, meaty goodness that will take your food to the next level of awesome. If you love bacon, you’re going to love bacon fat–which you’re already probably struggling to dispose of, anyway.
How to do it:
- Gather a bacon fat receptacle. It needs to be reasonably heatproof (I recommend strongly against plastic) and something you can later cover. Mason or jelly jars work perfectly. My boyfriend and aunt swear by mugs covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band. [Editor’s note: You can also buy “grease keepers.”]
- Make PORK bacon. Skillet, griddle or in the oven preparations will all make perfectly usable bacon fat. Don’t add anything to your bacon–additional oil, fat, sugar or spices will make the final product weird.
- Let the bacon grease cool. You can wait for it to solidify, but scraping it out can be annoying.
- Pour (or scrape) the fat into your container.
- Let cool further, then refrigerate.
• Refrigerated and covered, this can last up to a year. Watch out for mold in the jar or a rancid smell. When in doubt, throw it out.
• Don’t save bacon fat if you burned your bacon. It tastes poopy.
• If you don’t like little bacon crispy bits in your grease, strain it with a mesh sieve when you’re pouring it into the jar.
• You can pour new bacon fat onto old in your jar. I advise taking the container out of the fridge and letting it warm up a bit before adding hot/warm bacon fat. Extreme hot + extreme cold can cause the jar to crack or shatter.
• BE SAFE! Don’t burn yourself. Do it for Dootsie.
Some ideas on how to use it:
• Replace lard in a biscuit recipe
• Grease a skillet for fry/skillet breads (pancakes, hoecakes, cornbread, etc.)
• Lube up a grilled cheese or other pan-toasted sandwich
• Fried chicken (I usually just add some bacon grease to shortening)
• Add to cooking greens or green beans
• Replace oil when making popcorn
• Replace HALF the butter in a cookie recipe
Who else saves their pig juices? What do YOU do with it?