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Cooking with bacon fat

When recipes have you start by crisping up bacon and then setting the cooked bacon aside to cook the vegetables, why do they so often have you pour out "all but one tablespoon of bacon fat," only to add olive oil?

asked by linzarella almost 5 years ago
15 answers 6268 views
164ae6cf b233 45ae a461 8d7543fae705  melissa mitchell
added almost 5 years ago

I've always wondered that, too. I assumed it was because using all bacon fat might be too much of a good thing? I tend to not even add the olive oil unless I really have to -- I've found that for most things it seems like whatever bacon fat they tell you to leave in the pan is enough fat for the next step. It also kind of bugs me when the recipe starts with crisping up bacon, pouring off most of the bacon fat, and then "reserving the bacon for another use." It's not that I can't find another use for it (I just call my husband into the kitchen -- problem solved!), it just seems like a lot of process to then not use the bacon.

1f596ae9 f36c 4022 8b52 0c8583fd70b0  meg b f52
added almost 5 years ago

I think it is because you can really get a lot of flavor from a relatively small amount of bacon fat and since it has the same smoke point as olive oil you can replace lots and lots (2-3 times) as much saturated fat by using olive oil instead of all bacon fat.

2e76cf97 2d3d 429e a4b4 7be0bcf4c88d  headshot
added almost 5 years ago

But if I don't care about avoiding saturated fat, and I don't want to waste the bacon fat I've already rendered, would t it make more sense to just use what's in the pan?

164ae6cf b233 45ae a461 8d7543fae705  melissa mitchell
added almost 5 years ago

Also, we have several little jars o' fat in our refridgerator. One is bacon, and I've both used some of it when I don't feel like rendering off real bacon and I've also added the "extra" bacon fat to it here and there (the other two are duck and goose, which came from birds that we roasted). I know they are not health foods...I know that I could be less, um, frugal with the bacon fat, but it seems wasteful to just dump it and sometimes there is more than is sensible for whatever recipe called for it in the first place. So you could do that, too....but it is a little embarrassing to admit to!

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added almost 5 years ago

I think it's also because when you fry up the bacon, a whole lotta fat is rendered. Bacon's very fatty, so if you used all that's rendered it would be too much. But the good thing is that you can save it, and use it for other things--like skillet cornbread. Also it's intense, so you don't need much to get that good flavor.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added almost 5 years ago

I would definitely save any bacon fat that you poured off from the pan, My mom always had a recycled Crisco can in the refrigerator for bacon drippings, which she would use for frying. She didn't have to fry bacon to render fat every time she cooked something.

0f493ab9 068f 4498 ba2c 95c992214d52  sit2

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added almost 5 years ago

My mom used to do that too. I don't think you can do that with a Crisco can now, since it's not metal but paper.

671b6c39 4898 435f 92c5 89cd9b925088  img 3788
added almost 5 years ago

A little bacon fat packs a whole lot of taste...I find too much makes me feel sick later, so I prefer to save the excess to use as flavoring. My preference is to leave just a thin coating at the bottom of the pan and to add a little bit of flavorless oil if necessary. I keep the drippings in the fridge in a small glass jar that closes with a seal. Then you can scoop out a teaspoon to add to sauteed spinach or other greens, which really increases the flavor.

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added almost 4 years ago

I love bacon fat, and you can by all means use it instead of adding extra oil. There is a lot of confusion about hot "good for you" animal fat is, which is why I assume they tell you to remove the "bad" fat and add more "good" fat. I have always believed that RENDERED animal fat is just as good for you as any vegetable fat. Some recipes also call for other oils because of the smoking point. Vegetable oil (not extra virgin) will have a higher smoking point which enables searing or stir frying at high temperatures. Other reason I can think of is the flavor. Olive oil does impart a special flavor to dishes and adding it with the bacon fat will give the dish a more complex flavor. In any case...DO NOT throw out rendered fat, use it to saute potatoes! YUM!

56c2251d 87e7 43a2 8b06 91ece1405fcb  2016 03 27 06 17 14
added almost 4 years ago

Food first is what I love most about the Food 52 community. My personal preference is lighten the bacon fat so I tend to use less bacon I the first place. Can't disrespectful the pig! In my opinion, it all comes down to exploring and developing your own tastes. Sometimes my zealous colleagues, dietitians and health advocates, are so busy running the numbers, they get distracted from the goal.

1097a5b5 1775 4eec a8ea 7421137b65dc  image 2 apples claire sullivan 2

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

added almost 4 years ago

I just judge whether to use all bacon fat, or to pour off (and save) some - adding oil if necessary - with regards to flavor, not an animal fat aversion (as if.) Sometimes you want a very pronounced bacon flavor, and sometimes you don't want the bacon-y note to dominate.

F91e24fe 9edf 4e15 ba6b 76906fc5f610  pasta fresca
added almost 4 years ago

The problem is not the saturated fat from bacon, is the burnt fat that is dangerous. Olive oil with it's antioxidants will help, but best is not to use burnt fat regardless if it is saturated (fat) or unsaturated (oil)

A9f88177 5a41 4b63 8669 9e72eb277c1a  waffle3
added almost 4 years ago

That answer presupposes the bacon fat is burnt, or in the case of the recipe writer, will always be burnt.

F91e24fe 9edf 4e15 ba6b 76906fc5f610  pasta fresca
added almost 4 years ago

Burnt fat is so dangerous. Has peroxides and free radicals. Should not be eaten. We teach always to remove it, if possible, or to add fresh olive oil that have antioxidants and anti radicals. So removing the fat of the bacon and adding olive oil is what should be done (not necessarily olive oil). We are talking of salads

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