Once upon a time, housewives saved bacon drippings to season food. (That’s probably why the same dishes today don’t measure up to our memories.) The rendered bacon was ideal for sautéing or roasting vegetables.
Then along came the Health Era. We started counting (and comparing) our cholesterol and calorie stats. In many kitchens, the ubiquitous grease can became extinct. Some were repurposed to hold organic tea bags, sugar substitutes, or a potted plant. We turned to oil or margarine and lost the magical flavor of bacon in exchange for a healthier heart.
Actually, grease has slightly less cholesterol than butter and just a tad more fat. Grease and oil have the same calorie count, but the grease has far more saturated fat and salt. The health gurus say we should only eat bacon a couple times a month, preferably thick-cut, center-sliced bacon, that’s lower in fat. I’m okay with that. I rarely eat bacon and only occasionally sneak a few drippings into a dish that needs a flavor boost.
Fortunately, a teaspoon of fat is all you need to flavor most dishes.
How to Use Bacon Drippings
- Sautee vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, green beans, cabbage, peas, and cooked greens,
- Add to scrambled eggs, cornbread batter, hash browns, homemade pizza crust, gravy base, and stir fried rice,
- Pan fry burgers, grilled cheese, pancakes, French toast, and pancakes. Drizzle on popcorn and rub on potato skins before baking.
- For a warm bacon dressing, add a generous pinch of sugar to a spoonful of liquid fat. Add a splash of red wine vinegar. Stir and drizzle over salad greens.
- For a German-style potato salad, use a white wine vinegar instead of the red.
A half pound of bacon yields from 4 tablespoon to 1/4 cup of rendered fat. If you use bacon drippings occasionally, you can keep the container on your counter (as my mother always did), or in the refrigerator or freezer.
Exposure to light and air cause fat to become rancid, so refrigeration is the best option. If you strain off the solids, which cause fat to go bad, drippings will last 6 months, or more, in the fridge.
One last warning: Never pour fat of any kind down your drain. When it cools, it solidifies and clogs the pipes.