Serving 45 guests, and without a vegetarian among them, our entire kitchen arsenal was at our disposal. That meant breaking into a container of bacon fat, as we do from time to time.
Don’t choke on your doughnut, there’s some logic here.
Bacon fat is free. For every 50 guests we feed, we can render out about 1 pounds of bacon fat from the cooked product. Even when it’s cheap, butter is a couple of bucks per pound. Olive oil is similar. Vegetable oil may be less, but it doesn’t taste like anything.
As a replacement for another fat, bacon fat can subtly punch up flavor. It adds a subtle smokiness to otherwise flat mac and cheese or gives a meaty note to vegetables. It really enhances potatoes destined for home fries I mean, it’s bacon. Vegetable oil doesn’t come from pigs.
Bacon fat is about “as bad for you” as butter. It’s higher in calories but lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. Take a look at the numbers per 100 grams, which is about the total amount we’d use to saute vegetables for a couple dozen people:
Calories: 900 (715 in butter)
Fat: 99 grams, 39 saturated (81 grams, 51 saturated in butter).
Cholesterol: 95 milligrams (215 milligrams in butter)
Sodium: 150 milligrams (576 milligrams in butter)
Am I suggesting you replace olive oil with bacon fat? No. Do we use quarts of it a day? Hardly. In fact, several quarts had backed up in the fridge so I tossed a half-gallon of it today. We just don’t use it very often.
But it’s flavorful. In the small doses we use, it won’t kill anybody.
And it costs us nothing.
A few links you might be interested in:
Five uses for bacon grease, from Republic Of Bacon.
Five bizarre uses for bacon, from TLC.