In recent years, folks have really come around on a very important subject. That’s right, I’m talking about bacon. Despite its bad rep for being high in saturated fat and loaded with nitrates, everybody seems willing to overlook that stuff because it’s delicious and makes anything it touches delicious as well.
I think that’s all great. So why is it suddenly totally cool to eat bacon all the time, but bacon fat is still a culinary outcast? People throw the stuff out like it’s garbage. Folks, it’s not garbage. Shame on you for throwing out your bacon fat. That’s just wasteful. Why would you throw away free tasty fat when butter is $4 a pound? Save it, and do wonderful things with it.
Here are some ideas:
- Add melted bacon fat to cornbread, pancakes, or any other batter recipe that calls for melted butter to be stirred in at the end of mixing.
- Caramelize onions in bacon fat.
- Fry eggs in bacon fat (although I’m not a fan of how the end product looks).
- Make “baconnaise.” Yes, that’s right: replace about half the oil in a standard homemade mayo recipe with warm bacon fat.
- Use it as the fat for risotto, sautéing shallots and toasting rice in it at the beginning of cooking.
- Toss blanched veggies in hot bacon fat to glaze and reheat just before serving.
- Slather it all over all kinds of things: corn on the cob, a whole chicken for roasting, a russet potato (for baked potatoes) or a steak before grilling.
- Stir into burger mix. This is especially helpful if the burger is quite lean, including turkey burgers — a little bacon fat goes a long way.
- The other name for bacon fat is bacon grease. Run with that and grease things with it (muffin tins, loaf pans, sheet pans, etc.) before baking or roasting.
- Add it to virtually anything that needs more fatty, salty flavor, from bread to veggies to fruit and more.
And while it’s cool to use bacon to cover up or “improve” flavors that are strong or even unpleasant (think Brussels sprouts and bigger cabbages), why not make the most of it and use it to elevate flavors that are already awesome? I’m thinking fresh figs with Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam. If you can’t get your hands on a tiny, delicious wheel of this stuff, you can use brie in its place. Anyway, let’s do it!
- 12 figs, halved
- 2 oz warm bacon fat
- 3 T Meyer lemon juice*
- 1 T maple syrup
- 4 C mixed greens
- 3 oz Mt. Tam cheese, cut into 24 tiny chunks
- 24 roasted, salted almonds
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon fat on a sheet pan. Toss figs in the bacon fat on the pan.
Roast 10-12 minutes, til slightly browned.
Transfer figs to a plate, and using a spatula, scrape down bacon fat on pan into a medium bowl. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, top each fig half with a chunk of cheese, then one almond and set aside.
Whisk lemon juice and maple syrup into bacon fat. Add mixed greens and toss to coat.
Divide evenly between 6 plates and top each plate with 4 figs. Grind pepper over the top of each plate and serve.
*I had Meyer lemons, but feel free to use lemons, oranges, or half and half for this recipe.