Don’t ever throw away your bacon fat! There are so many ways to reuse it while adding extra flavor to what you are going to be cooking. After it has cooled down a bit, pour it into a dish or cup and store it in your refrigerator for a later use.
While it’s common knowledge that bacon makes everything better, cooks too often throw out the most valuable part of that tasty breakfast staple: the fat. A little spoonful of the stuff can bring meaty, smoky flavor to anything, from greens to baked goods. So before you ditch the drippings, check out 15 different ways you can use.
Slathered Baked Potato
Rub bacon fat onto russet potatoes, pierce on top a few times, then bake in a 425-degree oven until tender. Meanwhile, cook thinly sliced red onions in a few spoonfuls of melted bacon fat until caramelized. When the potatoes are done, slice the top lengthwise almost all the way through, then squeeze from 2 opposite ends to mash the insides upwards and fill with the caramelized red onions. (And if you cooked bacon to get the fat, sprinkle some crumbly bacon bits on top, too.)
Bacon’d Parm Popcorn
Melt about 1/4 cup bacon fat in a large pot (preferably aluminum). Add 2 or 3 popcorn kernels, and once they begin to pop, add about 1/4 cup more kernels to the pot. Cook, covered but stirring every minute, until the kernels begin to pop, then cover and continue to cook until the popping has slowed to 2 to 3 seconds between pops. Immediately dump the popcorn into a bowl and toss with generous handfuls of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
If your kids won’t eat their greens, give this dish a shot: Melt a spoonful or two of bacon fat in a hot skillet, then add finely chopped garlic (and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes if your brood can handle the heat) and cook until just aromatic (do not let the garlic brown or it will taste bitter). Immediately add a bunch of prepared greens (spinach leaves or collards, kale or chard with the tough center rib removed and leaves torn into pieces) and sauté until wilted and softened as desired.
Melt enough bacon fat to coat the bottom of a skillet and heat until hot. Lightly dust a flour tortilla with smoked paprika and cook until puffed, crisp, and golden. Immediately season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bacon Fat Fried Rice
Melt a spoonful of bacon fat in a hot skillet, then scramble an egg or two before removing to a plate. Melt a few more spoonfuls of fat, add a handful of thinly sliced scallion whites and cook until softened, then add leftover rice, a handful of frozen peas and a splash of soy sauce and cook until heated through. Add a handful of thinly sliced scallion greens and return the egg back to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Slather both sides of a thick slice of crusty bread with bacon fat, then cook in a skillet until golden on both sides. And yes, this works the way you think it will on a grilled cheese sandwich. YUM!
Melt a few spoonfuls of bacon fat in a hot skillet, add a chopped onion and cook until softened, then add a cored and shredded 1/2 head of cabbage and cook until wilted and soft. Season generously with freshly black pepper. (If you have the time, cook the bacon first and proceed with the rendered fat; then top the finished dish with crumbled bacon.)
Fried Potato Slabs
Potatoes and bacon fat go together like peas and carrots, so try this technique for a fresh spin on the magic combo: Melt a few spoonfuls of bacon fat in a large skillet. Arrange slabs of potatoes about 1/3-inch-thick in a single layer, add a cupful of water (or enough water to come halfway up the sides of the potatoes), cover and cook until the water is cooked off and the potatoes are sizzling and golden brown; turn and cook until browned on the other side.
Warm Bacon Dressing
Melt a spoonful of bacon fat, then season with a generous pinch of sugar. Whisk in a touch of mustard and a generous splash of red wine vinegar, then drizzle over salad greens and toss. For a German-style potato salad, quadruple the amounts used and replace the red wine vinegar with a white wine vinegar.
Creamy Mushroom Pasta Sauce
Melt a few spoonfuls of bacon fat in a skillet, then add thinly sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and are browned. Stir in a cupful of cream cheese and a handful of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese until melted. Add some snipped chives and toss with cooked pasta. (Topping this dish with bacon won’t hurt it.)
YUP, I said cookies! If all things salty and sweet make you happy, replace up to half the oil or butter called for in a cookie recipe with bacon fat and proceed with the directions. (Note: This works with shortbread and chocolate chip cookies, but not with every cookie.)
Melt about 1/4 cup bacon fat, then stir in about 1/2 cup olive oil and let cool (the oil will keep the bacon fat from solidifying). Whisk together an egg yolk and pinch of dry mustard powder, then whisk in the bacon fat mixture slowly until thickened and emulsified. Use the aioli as a sandwich spread or dipping sauce, or rub onto chicken or fish before roasting.
Spicy Brussels Sprouts
Melt a few spoonfuls of bacon fat in a hot skillet. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, then add Brussels sprouts halved lengthwise and sauté until bright green and softened as desired. Toss with julienned kimchee and mint leaves. (This combo also works well with green beans instead of Brussels sprouts.)
Add a few spoonfuls of bacon fat to a cast-iron skillet and preheat in an oven while preparing the cornbread batter. Add the batter and bake according to recipe instructions.
Cook pancakes, French toast, or waffles in the rendered bacon fat, then wonder why you’ve never done this before. I even fry my eggs right in the bacon fat for a salty flavor that is irresistible!