Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Best Part of Waking Up, Is Bacon In Your Cup!

I feel really good today.  Maybe it was the Yoga class I taught last night or maybe it’s this Maple Bacon Coffee I’m sipping.  Yes, that’s right, MAPLE BACON COFFEE.  When I explained the concept to my friend Marcia, she said, “It’s like breakfast in your cup!” and it truly is.  It starts off with a nice salty/sweet maple taste, and then afterwards you’re left with a slightly smoky finish.  And for me, my preferred method of coffee drinking is adding a tablespoon of Hot Chocolate.  It’s like Chocolate-Covered-Maple Bacon, in my cup.  Talk about good to the last drop…If you want to try some yourself, go check out the flavors on this site:Boca Java

While drinking my coffee, I got to thinking about the by-products of bacon, mainly the grease.  In moderation, bacon grease is culinary weapon of interstellar grandeur.  In the “Olden Days”, when people were less likely to throw things away, it was a common sight to see a container for grease on the kitchen counter, especially in southern homes.  It’s only got about a million uses.  Other than using it in cooking, bacon grease actually served a purpose in US History.  Did you know that during WWII, housewives were encouraged to save their bacon grease and turn it in to help with the war effort?  The bacon grease was used in the manufacturing of ammunition. The Allied forces discovered that it carried unparalleled incendiary properties, and successfully used it to undermine the German V2 rocket program.  Disney even got on board with a propaganda movie to help promote this effort.  Check out the video here….
I have confession to make though, up until today, I never thought about saving my bacon grease.  I mean, I’ve used the grease in recipes, but when I’ve done that, it’s been with the weekend morning’s bacon drippings (since I’m more inclined to bake or experiment with bacon on the weekends).  I think it’s time for a change though.  After reading all there is to do with this liquid gold, I’ll be starting to collect and store it for future use.  
So what can you use the bacon grease for in your kitchen?  Use it wherever you would use olive oil or butter for an added porky-flavor (blending wonderfully dark savory notes with and a nice smoky counterpoint).  In my eyes, that means adding this delectable wonder to everything, but it’s all about moderation, right?  So here are just a few starter ideas for you to test out. 
  • Eggs (a no-brainer, who doesn’t want to cook their eggs in bacon grease?)
  • Potatoes (fry them in the grease, or add a little grease to creamy mashed potatoes, or rub it on the skins of baking potatoes before baking for a nice crunch)
  • Veggies (try adding a little bacon grease to fresh or frozen veggies when you cook them…can’t get that kid to eat the veggies, just boost the flavor a little…)
  • Breads, Cornbread, Pancakes or Waffles (substitute the butter, or some of the butter.  Fat is fat, right?  Except bacon fat is delicious-er) and use it to grease up your baking pans
  • Pizza Crust (spread a little grease on the crust before adding the sauce.  I know, you’re welcome!)
  • Croutons (a couple of tbsps of grease goes into a sauté pan.  Add stale or leftover cubed bread, a little salt, pepper and maybe a little garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  Cook medium-low, until toasted.)
  • Steaks or Burgers (if you pan fry, add a little to the pan in place of oil or butter)
  • Sauces and Gravies (add it to the rue base.  Substitute bacon grease for your butter, let melt, then add a couple of tbsp of flour.  Let that thicken and bubble and turn to a golden color, then add your stock or broth and seasonings from there.)
See a pattern here?  Anything recipe that requires butter or oil is a candidate for a little bacon grease substitution, in moderation of course.  I’m not a doctor.  Although people who follow a low-carb diet have found that bacon (and other fatty foods) actually bring down cholesterol levels, unless of course, you have a predisposition to high cholesterol due to your genetic makeup.
If you find yourself contemplating storing bacon grease for future use, I have read that it’s best to filter the cooled grease through a coffee filter and small funnel into your container.  You’re removing the impurities.  You can leave it out on the counter, if you would like, although not recommended in warm or humid environments, as it has the potential for rancidity.  It’s best to store the grease in a container in the fridge, where it can last up to 6 months.  If you freeze the grease, it can last between 9 months to a year.

That being said, here’s lunch…which was absolutely finger-licking good.

Bacon Lover's Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices of your preferred bread (I like Potato)
2-3 slices of American Cheese
2-3 slices of Bacon
2 tbsp Butter or Bacon Grease

In a frying pan over medium heat, place 1 tbsp of butter or bacon grease on the pan.  Once slightly melted lay one piece of bread on top.  Add 1 to 1 & 1/2  pieces of cheese on the bread (cause I like cheese in every bite), and then lay your bacon down.  Cover the bacon with the remaining cheese and other slice of bread.  Let it get all toasty, then flip it over.   Using the other tbsp of butter or bacon grease, place the bread over the melting butter/grease.  Slightly sprinkle garlic powder on the top side, then flip and sprinkle garlic powder on the other side.  I usually flip this little sandwich 3-4 times to get a nice even golden brown color.  Like I said, Finger-Licking-Good.  Enjoy Baconphiles!