Nom Nom Paleo

Bacon from the Oven

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[Updated 4/15/12: Here’s an oldie but goodie that desperately needed to get spiffed up. The old photos were embarrassingly bad. Enjoy the facelift!]

What do you do if you’re making bacon for a crowd and you don’t want to spatter grease on your pretty frock? 

You bake it in the oven!

I first learned of this technique from Cook’s Illustrated and the initial batch I baked was revelatory. Oven-baked bacon crisps up beautifully, stays flat, AND you can easily collect a nice container of bacon fat that you can keep in the fridge for cooking. I love twofers.

Here’s what to gather to feed 4 people:

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 400ºF with the rack situated right smack in the middle of the oven.

Grab your bacon…

…and line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack on the lined tray…

…and put the bacon in a single layer on the rack.

Pop the tray in the oven and cook for 10-20 minutes (thicker bacon requires longer cooking time). 

Rotate the tray halfway through the cooking process and keep a close eye on the bacon near the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t burn. You can smell if your bacon is ready, so trust your schnauze.

Line a plate with a few sheets of paper towel. Place the finished bacon on the paper towels to drain. 

Pick up the corners of the foil carefully to collect the bacon grease in the middle and pour into a jar or glass container.  

Now, that’s liquid gold. 

Sautéed Spinach with Bacon, Bacon Grease, Shallots, & Mushrooms

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Hello bacon, my old friend, I’ve come to eat you once again…

(Go ahead: Sing along with me to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. You know you want to.)

Now that I’m done with the Whole30 program, I’m free to add some bacon-y goodness to our dinner. And it just so happens that I found a recipe on Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food website for sautéed spinach and bacon that looked easy and tasty (my two prerequisites for any weekday dish). After surveying the contents of my crisper, I decided to modify the recipe a little by adding some sliced shallots and cremini mushrooms. I also opted to bake my bacon instead of frying it in the pan because I’m less likely to burn the bacon when I bake it. Bonus: I can also collect the delectable bacon grease in the tray!

Here’s what I assembled:

  • 1 pound organic baby spinach
  • 12 ounces of cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 slices of uncured bacon, baked and crumbled
  • Bacon grease (reserved from baking the bacon slices)
  • 2 teaspoons Banyuls vinegar (I just found out that wine vinegar is not technically Whole30 — oops! Don’t tell anyone.)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s how I made it:

I gathered up my ingredients…

…and heated the bacon grease in my trusty cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the pan was hot, I sautéed the sliced shallots with some salt and pepper…

…until they were translucent and softened.

Next, I added the mushrooms and cooked ‘em until they developed some brown bits and the liquid evaporated.

I tossed in the spinach in batches…

…adding more as it wilted. I seasoned the dish with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Then, I plated the dish and sprinkled the bacon bits on top.

This dish totally hit the spot with a 1-2 punch of bacon grease and crispy bacon bits! Oh bacon, how I’ve missed you!

Fun With Bacon Grease

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After baking two pounds of bacon in the oven yesterday, I now have a tidy container of congealed bacon grease chillin’ in the fridge. And I’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to roasting veggies and meats with extra virgin olive oil, so the bacon grease certainly came in handy today.

I had some Brussels sprouts languishing in my vegetable crisper, so I roasted them off this morning. I kept it simple, and just tossed ‘em with a few tablespoons of bacon grease, salt, and pepper. My bacon grease turned milky white in the fridge –- I’ve grabbed it a few times today thinking it was my coconut milk. Not a terrible mistake, but I’m not sure I wanna eat my Paleo trail mix with bacon fat.

To liquefy the fat, I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds and stirred it. I store my fat in a microwave-safe glass Snapware container, so there’s no need to use (and later, wash) an extra bowl. Then, I spooned some of this liquid gold over my trimmed sprouts…

…seasoned with salt and pepper…

…and popped the tray in a 400 F oven for around 25-30 minutes.

The bacon fat lends the Brussels sprouts a rich, smoky, mouth-filling flavor.

For lunch, I ate some of the sprouts along with a salad I threw together using leftover sous vide flank steak, salad greens, sliced cucumbers, and grape tomatoes.

The bacon grease left in my glass container went right back into the fridge — for another few hours, anyway.

This evening, I once again nuked the container of bacon grease and then tossed a few tablespoons of the fat with some broccoli before roasting it in the oven (400 F for 25-35 minutes). 

But wait — I found more uses for my bacon fat!

While the broccoli cooked, I reheated two sous vide chicken breasts in my SousVide Supreme (140F for 30 minutes).  After removing the chicken from the water bath, I patted them dry, and brushed on some melted bacon grease…

…before searing them in my grill pan.

I’m sorry, but boneless and skinless breasts aren’t the tastiest parts of the chicken, so basting ‘em with bacon grease is a good thing.

I sliced the chicken breast and topped it with Primavera salsa and diced avocados. I served it along with my bacon-grease roasted broccoli.

Dammit, I’m running out of bacon grease. Time to make more bacon!