Bacon is everywhere, and has been for quite a while now, in bacon peanut butter pie, bacon grilled cheese, bacon and eggs (had to throw that in), bacon-infused vodka, bacon caramels. Some of it goes a little too far – I’m not sure about the bacon vodka. But there is a reason bacon is popular – most of us love salty, smoky things.
We try to limit our bacon consumption, but sometimes we just have to buy a package. When I do have bacon to cook with, I try to use it in small amounts to stretch the flavor without indulging quite so much – a little crumbled on top of baked potatoes or a slice on top of an egg and English muffin sandwich. Occasionally I will save the fat from frying the bacon to use in other dishes. It doesn’t take much and I don’t do it all the time. Sometimes, though, there is no substitute for the smoky, toasty richness you get from bacon fat.
When I was a kid my mom (and just about everyone else’s mom) saved bacon fat in a jar in the fridge. Then the cholesterol-fearing days came and she threw it all out. Gone were fried eggs or roasted potatoes cooked in bacon fat. I still remember how they taste. There really is nothing like a fried egg cooked in bacon fat, slightly brown and flecked with the tiny bits of bacon left in the pan.
I have adapted my hash brown recipe to use bacon fat. If you aren’t interested for whatever reason, try the potatoes cooked in butter (or as Calvin calls them, Slip and Slides) instead. Both recipes are deceptively rich and satisfy any cravings for fat with just a little indulgence. A tablespoon of bacon fat is enough, though two tablespoons are decadence in a skillet. Don’t use more than that or the potatoes will be unpleasantly greasy. I like to use a cast iron skillet for these. I think it browns more evenly. But any heavy-bottomed skillet will do.
Bacon Browned Potatoes
from The Cook’s Life
1-2 tablespoons bacon fat
3-4 medium baked potatoes (I use leftover potatoes for this)*
Start a skillet heating over medium heat and add the bacon fat. While the pan is heating, peel and dice the potatoes, cutting them into about ½-inch cubes. You don’t have to be precise.
Swirl the pan to cover the bottom with the melted fat and add the potatoes. Spread them out so they are in a single layer and then walk away. Leave them absolutely alone for five minutes before you start to stir. You are working toward a golden brown coating on the bottoms of the pieces.
After at least five minutes, use a spatula to turn the potatoes. Try to turn them all the way over so the tops of the pieces will brown. After another five minutes, stir them around, gently, and let them brown some more. If they are starting to get too brown, lower the heat. Remember, you aren’t going for constant stirring. Let the heat do the work.
Serve your golden brown, crispy, bacon-scented potatoes hot, with salt and pepper to taste.
*If you don’t have leftover potatoes, scrub the potatoes, prick them with a fork and microwave on high for five minutes, or until they are starting to get soft. They don’t have to be all the way cooked, but it is fine if they are. Let them cool a bit for easy handling.