The Genius Use For Leftover Bacon Fat You Have To Try

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Home cooks were cooking with animal fats for generations before pseudoscience told us they were bad for you. Without knowing the health benefits of animal fats, grandma knew that schmaltz (chicken fat) made things taste better. In recent years, we've discovered that the nutritional elements our bodies need (omega-3, omega-6, vitamins, and minerals) and the reason we spend the extra money on grass-fed, organic meat are found in the animal's fat, per Organic Authority.

In 2018, New York Times bestselling author of "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?" Dr. Mark Hyman said animal fats are "good for you, despite what years of flawed science and nutritional guidelines told us" and are part of his roadmap to healthier eating. Cooks like animal fats for their high smoking points that allow for crisp food without burning the meal.

While most animal fats are used in savory cooking, lard (pork fat) has been regarded as the secret to success in many flaky pie crusts. For generations, Jewish cuisine has relied on schmaltz to perfectly fry latkes and flavor chopped liver, and once used only by restaurant chefs, home cooks have discovered the value of cooking fried chicken in duck fat for enviable crunch and flavor and irresistible duck fat fried potatoes.

Unlike lard, pork is salt-cured for bacon. America's obsession with this smoky meat goes beyond breakfast, with rashers appearing in our favorite desserts. Rachael Ray shares another delicious use for bacon you'll want to try.

Dress up your popcorn with bacon drippings

The average American consumes more than 18 pounds of bacon each year, according to Farm Journal, with innovative uses for the umami flavor-enhancing ingredient adding to why it's still so popular. Via the Rachael Ray Show, rendered bacon fat should be saved and tossed on popcorn. "You won't be disappointed," according to Chef Brother Luck. Traditionally seasoned with salt, bacon fat on popcorn seems like the natural evolution.

Ray uses the bacon in two ways in another recipe for a sweet and salty Maple-Bacon Popcorn snack. First, she cooks a few slices of bacon and removes them to drain while she prepares the popcorn using the rendered bacon fat and canola oil to pop it. She adds maple sugar to the pot for sweetness, then tops the popcorn with melted butter and chopped bacon bits to gild the lily, ensuring every bite is salty, sweet, and crunchy.

Cooking bacon low and slow will render the most fat from the meat and avoid burning the bacon. Once the bacon is cooked, strain the fat into a glass container to remove any solids from the fat. Any leftover solids can burn the dish and impart bitterness. A wide mouth jar is recommended to accommodate a spoon since the fat solidifies when cooled. Store your jar of bacon fat in the refrigerator indefinitely, and be mindful of any additional salt you add to your cooking since the fat will have a lot already.