13 May 2008

What kind of fat is in your icebox?

When I was a kid, there was always a can for drippings. My mom was born in the height of the Depression, and when she raised us she wasted very little. So now, I always have a jar of drippings in the fridge. Every time I fry bacon or brown meat, I pour the extra fat into a jar. For one thing, I don't want to clog my drain. More importantly, though, is that a spoonful of drippings makes for great sauteed greens, onions, or whatever else I might be cooking. If I'm making biscuits or a savory pie, I like to add a tablespoon or two of drippings to the dough. My friends now swear by the duck fat I use when making a pie crust for blueberry pie. I also cook with butter, lard, walnut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and vegetable oil.

I like having an array of fats in my fridge. Bacon drippings are great, but when I make green beans I need duck fat. Butter is what I want for my asparagus, and olive oil is perfect for other things. When I cut up an animal, I save its fat. I like using as much of an animal as I can, and rendered fat is a treat you can't buy in the store.

A perfect spring recipe using drippings? A bunch of just-picked arugula, washed. A spoonful of bacon drippings in a hot, hot pan. Throw in the greens and let them sizzle for a moment. If any of the stems are getting tough or fibrous, cover the pan for thirty seconds or so. Salt if needed, and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Since I don't cook much meat, I don't have much occasion to save fats. Butter, canola oil and a couple of types of olive oil are my cooking mainstays. But if you ask about other ingredients in the freezer:

    -Butter wrappers with a little butter still clinging to them, perfect for greasing a baking pan
    -Old breadcrusts, ready to whirl in the blender for crumbs
    -walnuts, which turn bitter at room temperature quite quickly but keep beautifully in the freezer and are ready to add to any dish and eat immediately (i.e., they don't freeze hard)
    -whole wheat flour, for much the same reason
    -opened packages of barley, bulghur wheat and other grains, to keep them fresh and discourage development of a grain moth problem

    All the above are sealed appropriately -- in ziplock bags or the like -- to help maintain quality.

    Not quite what you asked, but I thought I'd improvise on the theme a little.