Southerners know that bacon is more than crispy strips of smoked pork belly. The bacon grease left in your skillet is just as delicious and versatile as the meat itself, and should never go to waste. (Don’t even think about pouring it down the drain!) If you’ve properly stored your leftover bacon grease, you’ll have a flavorful fat that’s ready to use in all sorts of recipes. Here are a few ideas:
Cornbread and Biscuits
Give buttermilk biscuits and skillet cornbread a smoky, savory note by swapping out some or all of the butter or shortening for bacon drippings. (This is an especially good idea if you’re using the biscuits to make breakfast sandwiches with extra bacon.)
Pan Sauces and Gravies
A tablespoon of bacon grease adds depth to simple pan sauces and gravies. It’s also an essential ingredient in tangy tomato gravy, which can be served alongside pork chops or drizzle over a biscuit or a bowl of grits.
When sautéing vegetables on the stovetop or roasting them in the oven, replace your usual olive oil or other vegetable oil with an equal amount of bacon grease. The flavor is so fantastic, you’ll need nothing more than a little salt and pepper.
For certain types of pies, a bacon grease can add a welcome savory note to homemade piecrusts—it’s similar to lard, but more flavorful. Make sure the bacon fat is very cold before incorporating it into the dough. Try it in your next tomato pie (works well whether you’re using red or green tomatoes), or in an apple pie.
Bacon makes a tasty addition to all kinds of salads, whether it’s crumbled on top or incorporated into the dressing. You’re probably familiar with the classic spinach salad made with a hot bacon dressing. A bacon vinaigrette works well in a Cobb salad too.