Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Joy of Cooking (with Bacon Grease)

In the film Julie & Julia, and in the original blog as well if I recall correctly, Julie Powell poses the question -- which I tended to assume was pretty much rhetorical -- "Is there anything better than butter?"  Her clear implication is that there is absolutely nothing better than butter, and while I would love to agree so completely, I found myself answering to the contrary today.

"Bacon grease," I said with confidence.

The key difference, however, is that you can use large quantities of butter in recipes with relative ease.  I can't imagine making pastry with bacon grease.  But when it comes to such activities as frying an egg or a few potatoes or even sliced zucchini, bacon grease is decidedly the way to go.

I might even go so far as to credit bacon grease with the success of my almost omelette this morning.  Eggs thoroughly whisked with a handful of feta cheese and poured into a hot greased frying pan.  The flip wasn't a complete success, but it was much closer than I have managed in the past, and the feta melded into the eggs beautifully.

So little goes so far and generously gives whatever is cooked in it as rich, full, delicious flavor.  A scant teaspoon coated an entire sliced zucchini in deliciousness.  My mouth practically waters just thinking about it.

A bit of bacon, a bit of omelette and a bit of zucchini on my fork creates a delectable mouthful.  (Somehow I have gone from being one of those people who eats every item on the plate separately to one who insists on combining as many of the foods as possible.  I'm not quite sure how or when that change happened.)

Bacon isn't something that appears on the menu in my kitchen all that often, which may be part of the reason that it is so appreciated when it does.  When I was cooking green beans for Thanksgiving, I decided to add a bit of bacon to them.  I steamed the fresh snapped green beans for a few minutes, and while they were steaming I chopped up a few slices of raw bacon and threw them into a sauce pan.  Once the bacon was mostly cooked, I drained off most of the fat and then threw the just steamed green beans into the pan.

At that point I realized how much easier it had been to cook the bacon in the sauce pan than it generally was to cook in a frying pan.  There was less splattering.  There was no need for flipping because all I had to do was stir the smaller pieces in the sauce pan.  Chopped up and in a sauce pan is now how I cook bacon.

The one tiny drawback is that it can be deceptively easy to overcook the bacon using this method, but I have since learned to pay a little closer attention and all is well.

Of course, only a very little bacon grease can kill you if you don't combat the potential evil with exercise, but when I sit down and enjoy foodstuffs fried in bacon grease, I have a hard time believing that life could possibly get any better.


  1. Your grandmothers dance with joy in heaven. Your Irish grandmother made her pie crusts with lard, also. Your German grandmother used Crisco.

    Salt pork was used in the green beans and bacon when there was no salt pork to be had. Green beans just were not green beans if no bacon or salt pork was added.

  2. Perhaps it means I can compensate for not liking stuffing. :)