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Bacon Grease – The Chef’s Forgotten Friend

There is no reason that, in moderation, saturated fats like bacon fat cannot be used in food preparation. The polyunsaturated seed oils are not as healthy as they have been touted to be, and they are not the best choice for high temperature cooking. The smoky delicious flavor of bacon fat is a wonderful and versatile addition to your cooking tool kit and will add complex flavors to some of your dishes. If you are a once in awhile bacon lover, you will make the cost of that bacon go farther by using the fat instead of trashing it.

Bacon fat is a wonderful saturated fat which is solid at room temperature and is great for frying all manner of foods. It is stable in the refrigerator and can be used in place of butter and is way better than margarine or other hydrogenated fats for food preparation. Whether or not saturated fats should be used in the diet is a discussion for another venue. If your cholesterol levels, body weight, and other factors affecting heart disease are fine while using bacon fat, then have at it.

Bacon fat is great for frying up anything that needs frying. For generations, people used bacon fat and lard for frying and they didn’t have many of the diseases of today, so I doubt that that is what we should be avoiding like the plague. Bacon fat is great for frying up eggs. It is superb for braising stew meats, or for frying up certain vegetables like greens or cabbage. Nothing makes bland vegetables like cabbage and some greens taste scrumptious the way frying them up in some bacon fat does. You do not need to cook them to death. Greens and cabbage taste great when still a bit crispy, do don’t overdo it. Bacon fat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or even longer in the freezer, so you can have it when you need it for cooking.

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If you happen to be home for lunch, or are stuck on what to have for dinner, think about the following. If you usually have cabbage or Brussels sprouts or something similar in your refrigerator, take out a frying pan and throw in a dollop of solid bacon fat scooped from a glass jar filled with bacon grease which you keep in your refrigerator for such occasions. Cut up the cabbage well, dicing it and then put it into the hot bacon fat and fry it up nicely. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If using Brussels sprouts you can halve them and fry them up in the oil the same way as the cabbage. If you prefer them more tender to start out with, lightly steam them first and then fry them up in the oil. This is so simple to do and results in one of life’s simple culinary pleasures. The bacon fat adds a sinful rich quality to what would otherwise be a bland vegetable dish. Try it sometime and you will know what I mean.

If using the fat from regular nitrite heavy commercial bacon worries you, then simply get some nitrite free organic bacon and use the fat which is released from that. You will be eating better bacon and using the fat which is free from preservatives found in the popular commercial bacon brands.

The next time you need an oil with a high flash point for some decadent tasting cuisine, reach for the bacon grease instead of flavorless seed oils which have been oversold and have also under delivered.

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