My thoughts are straying to bacon – again. This time, it’s not about the bacon itself, but the pool of salty, pork-flavored grease it leaves behind. Who among us hasn’t burned their finger once or twice dipping it into bacon drippings for an illicit taste? Come on, I know it’s not just me.
My mother used bacon grease liberally in any number of dishes when we were growing up. She simply poured the grease right from the frying pan into a coffee can she kept beside the stove. When she was frying eggs, potatoes or canned apples, or making cornbread, she’d just dip out a spoonful and plop it in the pan.
The thought of that unfilted grease sitting on the counter for months at a time kind of makes me shudder now. But, wow, the taste that bacon grease added to dishes is unparalleled.
If you have to worry about your cholesterol levels, then you need to stay far away from this kind of cooking fat. But, if you don’t, well…
A nutritional comparison between a tablespoon of bacon grease, butter and canola oil is kind of surprising. The grease has slightly less cholesterol than the butter, and only 2 more milligrams of saturated fat. It has the same number of calories as the oil, but tons more saturated fat and sodium.
If you can afford an occasional splurge, by all means, go ahead. My mother also used to rub scrubbed baking potatoes with bacon grease, creating crispy, delicious jackets. Bacon grease and potatoes are a natural pair, but it also makes a great additon to salad dressings and vegetables.
Avoid the questionable hygiene of a greasy stove-side coffee can by pouring the grease through a coffee filter into a glass jar with a screw top. It will keep for months in the refrigerator, which is a good thing, because as anyone who cooks with bacon grease can tell you, a little bit goes a long way on flavor.
1 Tbsp. bacon grease
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 9-ounce bag baby spinach
1/4 cup cream
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
In a skillet over medium heat, saute the mushrooms, onions and garlic until onions are soft. Season to taste. Add entire bag of spinach, stir to combine the ingredients, then turn heat to low, cover the skillet and steam for 3-4 minutes. When spinach has wilted, add the cream and cream cheese. Stir gently until cream cheese has melted.