Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bacon in Bulk

In my past life as a teenager (when I was skinny) I was a vegetarian.  Now I still enjoy many vegetarian meals, but Hubby has no interest in eating a non-meat main course.  I find that a good way for me to add a little bit of meat is to add some bacon to his portion.  That being said, bacon from the grocery store is often very expensive and very low quality, and a mess to deal with.  That's where I picked up this it in bulk, cook in bulk.  My mom has been doing this for years, and I'm glad I finally picked up on the trend. 

 In my "bacon section" at my local grocery store ALL the way to the left in the corner is a generic looking yellow box filled with "Bacon Ends and Pieces."  I think most people don't buy it because they don't know what it is...

I'll tell you what it's a bacon lottery.  For about 7 dollars you can buy this 3 lb box of bacon.  You only get a little peek window, so you have no idea what's inside.  I'll tell you it's generally fattier than what you would get in a see-through plastic shrink wrapped package, but the slices are thicker...think butcher shop bacon.  Sometimes you get lots of lean pieces, sometimes you get lots of bacon fat. 

Stick with me, what else can you use bacon fat for...?  As cooking fat instead of butter or canola oil.  (DISCLAIMER: While bacon is delicious, bacon fat should not be used to cook all of your meals, it's not good for you to eat all the time, believe it or not.)

I like to trim my bacon, so I only get the leanest cuts and reserve the fatty pieces for rendering bacon fat.  I would have snapped a pic, but my extra arms are taking our recyclables to the town dump. 

If you do not cook this bacon soon, it will mold, which is not fun to deal with (tear for wasted bacon).  So once you buy it, trim it all up and cook it all up.  This is handy for me, because I don't particularly enjoy cooking bacon because then I have to clean my pan often.  I recommend using a cast iron skillet, like mine.  Work smarter, not harder.  Cook your entire box of bacon and drain on some towels.  (I don't use paper towels often, but this is one of those times where I find it necessary, if you have a simple/eco friendly alternative, let me know).  By cooking it all at once, you've eliminated a ton of time in the future cleaning the same pan over and over. 

Once you've cooked up all your bacon, portion some out and wrap in wax paper and freeze.  This way, next time you need some bacon for a last minute meal, you've got it covered.  Lots of the little tiny pieces work great in salads and soups.  I store slices in my deli drawer so I can add them to sandwiches when I don't feel like cooking - I love being able to make a BLT in five minutes or less and having no clean up. 

You can also store your bacon fat trimmings to render down next time you need to cook with bacon fat.  I gave quite a bit of mine to my mom, as they have a 16 year old dog that can use some extra fat in her diet. 

Now, you've likely rendered a bit of bacon fat from frying even though you just fried the lean parts.  SAVE this!  It's so easy.  I have a vintage lard container that my mom scored for me, but you can keep yours in a jar if you don't have one. 

Than concludes today's Bacon in Bulk lesson.  If you have questions or want to share you're own personal experiences, I'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. Well, don't tell everyone. The demand will cause the price to go up. We should cook ours all right away too. Sometimes it gets too old before we use it all up.