Hey-o, Worker Bee here. There’s been recent talk about how to render bacon fat, so with that in mind I’ve put together a how-to photo blog, as well as a follow-up recipe for how to put that leftover fat to good use.
Rendering bacon fat is as easy firing up a skillet and cooking bacon like you normally would. Place a few pieces of thick, nitrate-free, uncured strips on the surface of a cast-iron skillet and cook until crispy. Once bacon is done, remove it and place it aside.
If you’re not planning to eat the bacon by itself, though, and are just cooking it for its fat, there is a more strategic method. Freeze the strips for 10-15 minutes prior to cooking, then cut the bacon into small bits. While the pieces cook, the increased surface area helps to render the fat more fully (which just means less of the fat stays on the bacon itself), and the bacon pieces come out much leaner. (You can then add these crispy bits to salads or side dishes for a delicious flavor.)
Whatever you decide to do with the bacon, the drippings are what we’re after. Pour or spoon the fat from the skillet (carefully!) into a can, shallow bowl or wide-mouth glass jar, like the one pictured. If you don’t refrigerate the fat right away, it will be OK but will take longer to solidify.
As far as safety goes, grandmas the world over will tell you that they’ve kept their bacon fat in a coffee can next to their stove for extended periods of time without any ill effects, but I like to keep mine in the fridge. Even when I’ve filtered the fat and am sure there is no residual meat in the container that can easily go rancid I still hedge my bets and throw it in the fridge. Fats are pretty obvious about their expiration, so if it airs of badness, don’t hesitate to discard the batch and start over.
Speaking of grandmothers, I remember when mine use to scoop out a healthy amount to fry her eggs every Sunday morning. Those eggs were so good, and I promise, so is the omelet recipe I share below. It’s a step up from the same old hum-drum mushroom-spinach fusion we’re used to.
Fennel and Dill Omelet
I decided to attempt to utilize own of my favorite vegetables for this recipe: fennel. I was hoping to encourage more variety with this delicious vegetable than the obvious, which is to grill it or sauté it, and serve it on a platter (also delicious). Cooking fennel in bacon fat was another twist. The fat added a delicious savory taste that olive oil or even butter just can’t. Dill was a wonderful component too, which should be used liberally in this recipe.
1 tsp bacon fat
½ fennel bulb, cut into chunks
2-4 teaspoons fresh dill
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and add a small scoop of (now cooled and solidified) bacon fat (about 1 tsp). When skillet surface is hot, add the sliced fennel and dill, and cover. Cook fennel and dill in bacon fat until fennel is soft, about 3-5 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat eggs until fluffy and pour into the skillet over the fennel, making sure to quickly spread the fennel throughout the egg before it becomes firm. Lift edges occasionally with a spatula to see when other side looks cooked. Flip, cook until at desired consistency (runny vs. not runny at all) and serve. Add capers and fresh dill for garnish. Makes one omelet big enough for two.