8 Things To Do With Your Rendered Pork Fat
I can remember my parents leaving the grease from cooking bacon in the pan to cook our eggs in. Not only did it prevent the eggs from sticking, it left my easy over eggs flavoured with the smoky and salty taste of bacon. I think it is my first memory of culinary recycling.
Rendered pork fat, or the fat that comes out from cooking different cuts of pork, has long been used as a cooking fat, as shortening, or as a spread similar to butter. If you are one of those people who scrape out the hardened bacon fat straight into the garbage can – STOP! You are wasting that fabulous pork flavour!
More and more contemporary chefs, cooks, and bakers are recycling their collected rendered pork fats into other dishes. Nose to tail cuisine is trendy – and rendered pork fat is kitchen gold; just be sure to store it in a sealed container in the fridge.
Last week I roasted a pork belly that left me with over a cup of rendered pork fat. I have a few go-to things I like to do, but I needed some inspiration with what to do with my big cup of pork fat. So, I asked some of my favourite Alberta chefs what they like to do with rendered pork fat.
1. In mashed potatoes
I’m used to Chef Michael Allemeier, Instructor of Culinary Arts at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, making some of the most technical and glamorous food I’ve ever eaten, but rather than intimidate those new to the pork fat world – he shared a simple way for home cooks to baby step their way towards using rendered pork fat. He says one of the simplest ways to add a boost of flavour to your mashed potatoes is to add leftover bacon fat.
2. In homemade pasta noodles
I organized a pop up dinner with Chef Doreen Prei of Edmonton a couple of years ago and she made pork fat noodles. While the name ‘pork fat noodle’ may not sound glamorous – those noodles slid right off the plate and the belly of many a happy diner. If you are up for making your own pasta – give the pork fat substitution a try.
3. To confit vegetables
You don’t need to add bacon to your vegetables to make them taste better, you can just add bacon fat. Edmonton’s Chef Eric Hanson confits vegetables in rendered pork fat – just add some leftover fat to a variety of veggies and slow roast them in the oven for 45 minutes at 250F.
4. To baste other meats with
Chef Liana Robberecht, Executive Chef at Calgary Petroleum Club, loves to use her leftover bacon fat to baste a roast with. “Make a mixture of bacon fat, herbs, and lemon zest; yum yum”
5. In sauces
Chef Cory Welsch of Craft Beer Market in Edmonton says in his kitchen they use leftover bacon fat to make a maple bacon sauce for wings. He’s swapped it with butter to make a bacon hollandaise sauce – perfect for eggs Benedict or as an accompaniment for steaks.
6. On popcorn
Chef Andrew Cowan of Hart’s Table & Bar introduced me to repurposing my bacon fat as a topping on popcorn a few years back and I love busting out my retro air popper just so I can coat freshly popped popcorn in melted bacon grease. Check out his simple and savoury recipe for bacon sriracha popcorn by clicking here.
7. In vinaigrettes
Chef Corey McGuire, Executive Chef at Tzin Wine & Tapas in Edmonton, makes use of some of his rendered pork fat as a savoury ingredient in a warm vinaigrette. Warm bacon dressing is certainly one way to encourage meatatarians to start eating their greens.
8. For making the ultimate warm potato salad
Julie Van Rosendaal, food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One, likes roasting potatoes in bacon fat to make the ultimate potato salad – ‘they get all crispy and bacony before you add the mayo! Yum.’
While re-using pork fat is simple and delicious, Julie shared with me a non-culinary use for bacon fat. Julie discovered her favourite use for bacon fat one time when she was on set for long days of shooting Its Just Food; she replaced her lip gloss with bacon fat from the fridge. Shiny!