I’ve only met one non-vegetarian who didn’t love bacon. Crispy, meaty, porky goodness appeals to just about everyone. Except one of my best friends, Cassi. Before you judge her, know that the way she turns her nose up at a thick, salty slice of crunchy pig is really one of her only faults. She’s creative and weird and hilarious and fierce, and in my defense, I didn’t know she refused to eat pork products until we had already established we’d be friends for life. I tell her it’s a deal breaker and try to entice her with fancy, locally cured, extra crispy bacon when she visits, and I’d say we’re making progress.
In the Gollinger household bacon is a weekend staple. I make a big breakfast every Saturday, and it always includes a couple of thick slices of bacon from my favorite grocery store. I even make a special trip to said grocery store for said bacon. I make no less than a pound at a time and save the leftovers for salads and other slightly indulgent applications throughout the week. Almost as important, though sadly underutilized, is the bacon grease that’s left over when making a batch. It’s a delicious two for one.
If you’re the type of person to mock another for keeping a jar of bacon fat in her pantry, well than you can just skip on back to the home page and select another one of my vegetarian, or vegan, or paleo options. Your great grandma knew a thing or two when she quietly reserved the fat in her cast iron pan after frying up a sizzling batch of bacon. Its flavor is salty and rich and even just a teaspoon of it as the base of your favorite recipes imparts a flavor that’ll leave your diners saying, yesssssssssss!
How to do it:
I’m partial to throwing my bacon in the oven. Less hassle and mess that way, plus, it’s easier to control for your desired level of uniform crispiness.
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You’ll be tempted to turn it up to 400 or even 425 to expedite the cooking process, I know, I’ve tried, but you’ve got to be a little patient here.
While the oven is preheating, place a wire rack on a cookie sheet and evenly space the bacon on top of the rack.
When the oven is pre-heated, place the bacon on the middle rack and bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on your desired level of crispiness. 30 minutes will get you a chewy version, while 40 will be extra crispy. It’s also important to note that the thickness of your bacon will impact its cooking time. I prefer thick cut bacon, mostly crispy, but with a little bit of chew in the center, and 35 minutes is just about perfect.
When the bacon is done, remove it from the oven and immediately transfer to a double layer of paper towels using metal tongs. Don’t grab the hot bacon with your bare hands, as tempting as it may be. Again, a lesson conveyed from experience. Blot the top of the bacon with another double layer of paper towels to remove extra grease. Or don’t. I won’t tell.
Once your cookie sheet is cool, remove the wire rack, and gently scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any crusty bacon remnants. Using a rubber spatula or spoon, carefully transfer the bacon fat to a heat-proof container with a tight fitting lid. My hubby ordered me a glass one off of Amazon, but leftover salad dressing containers and the like make great bacon fat vessels.
Are you more of a video learner? Check out this quick video, it’s the first we’ve ever made!!
What to do with the bacon fat:
Don’t despair when you’ve polished off the last strip of bacon on your breakfast plate. The bacon fat at the bottom of your cookie sheet is about to spread its love to your otherwise bland weekday cooking routine.
Store your liquid gold in your pantry until ready to pork up your next dish. What does that even mean, Amy?! Here are a couple of examples of where my precious bacon fat stores end up:
1) scrambled eggs: if you make bacon and eggs and don’t fry up your eggs in the leftover bacon fat, you’re seriously missing out;
2) salad dressings: ever heard of a thing called a warm bacon fat dressing?! Pour it over a steak and spinach salad with some luscious crumbles of blue cheese and you’ll think you’re in a fancy restaurant;
3) sautéed veggies: confession….sometimes I cook my veggies in a teaspoon or two of bacon fat. Garlic green beans are delectable this way, so are my spiralized zucchini noodles.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Besides, I don’t want to give away all of my secrets. A couple of takeaways from this week’s Tips and Tricks: anywhere you would usually use olive oil or another cooking fat, try swapping it out for a couple of teaspoons of bacon fat. Trust me, it kicks everything up about ten notches. Also, Cassi is a good person even though she doesn’t like bacon.