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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 Bacon Grease - A Love Song in the Heart

Every so often I get this impulse to break the rules.

OK, so maybe it’s not “every so often.” Maybe it’s just “often.” What can I “say?” It’s the way I’m “wired.” I break “rules.” Particularly, you can see, where “quotation marks” are concerned.

Anyway, the impulse du jour involved me running out to buy a pound of the best bacon I could find, frying a bunch of it in a cast iron skillet, and then frying two eggs in the remaining bacon grease for what is known in my family as a “Grandma egg.”

This is in honor of my grandmother, Marion McKenzie, who to my knowledge never fixed a breakfast egg any other way. She would crack the eggs into at least an inch of bacon grease and spoon the hot fat over the top of the eggs to set them. And talk about breaking the rules, for egg cookery at least: She did it not on a low flame as the books recommend, but with the burner turned up beyond ‘high” to “smelting.”

The result was a cardiologist’s nightmare – an egg so delicious, glistening with a slight sheen of bacon grease, as to require a wanted poster at the heart clinic post office. It flies the face of all the rules of good eating, cardiologist-style.

Then again, most modern eating guides, cardiologist-style and civilian, ignore a simple, universal truth: Everything tastes better with bacon grease.

This principle is well-known to those of us who grew up in the era when moms and grandmothers kept a can of bacon grease on the back of the stove, and likely as not had some lard around the house as well. Oh, my. Don’t get me started on lard. I have been known to wax rhapsodic about chicken fried in lard and pie crusts made with lard, which likely as not will segue into a concerto about potatoes fried in goose fat, and before you know it I’m sitting down at some restaurant ordering Wesson’s First Symphony, the Deep Fried Everything.

So back to bacon grease. Its amazing powers of enhancement have few limits. Ice cream, I suppose (although there is bacon-flavored ice cream out there, so I am prepared to concede that one). I love biscuits baked with just a dab of bacon grease on their tops. Onions fried in it are heavenly. My mother used it with the aforementioned and much-beloved lard to fry chickens. What bliss.

A young friend recounts how she once baked a cake from a recipe that called for oil. Knowing no better, she used the oil her mother kept … yes, in a can on the stove. It contained an amalgam of fats – olive, canola and other – and a generous amount of bacon fat.

“Best … cake … ever,” she recounted in a near-swoon. This is how I feel about Grandma eggs. I don’t eat them but about twice a year, which may account for some of their attractiveness. And you can’t discount the nostalgia factor, either. Close to forty years gone and I still think of my grandparents practically every day.

Which means that, despite what my cardiologist says, some things that are bad for the physical heart are good for the spiritual one. In moderation, of course. I mean, “moderation.”

 

 

 

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.