A'hm a gonna go ahaid and say this sheeit raght now - if there'n be any gol-danged yankees readin' this here writeup, you maght want to go ahaid and avert y'all's sensitive little peepers. We's about to talk about some pig juice! WOOOO-WEEE!
All cheesy southern accents aside, bacon grease is a remarkably versatile seasoning and recipe addition, and when you get right down to the grits of the matter, no southern kitchen is quite complete without it. I imagine that there are some people out there cringing away from the monitor, right now, crying, "Bacon grease? BACON GREASE?! Are you people crazy?" To these people, I say, emphatically, YES, we are. You're looking at the culture that came up with deep fried LARD for chrissakes - compared to that, a pan of cornbread seasoned with bacon grease seems downright sensible.
Serving Size: 1 tsp (4 grams)
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 7%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carboydrates 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g ~
Sugars 0g ~
Protein 0g 0%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
These rather scientific sounding numbers confirm the obvious - bacon grease consists entirely of fat, mostly the bad kind, and is otherwise nutritionally devoid. But it tastes good! The Nutrition Data website says of the stuff, quite coyly, "Substituting another food for this one may improve the nutritional quality of your diet and/or make it easier for you to control the number of Calories that you consume." Put bluntly - this stuff isn't for health nuts. Of course, anyone who consumes enough bacon to have a decent amount of grease kept back for cooking probably doesn't care too much about their health anyway.
Bacon grease is traditionally kept in an empty Crisco can that sits on the back of the stove, but it is required that you let the grease cool before putting it in. A better solution is an old, percolater-style coffeepot. You can just keep it there, toss the grease in as soon as you're done cooking the bacon, and throw it on the burner to melt when needed. Bacon grease keeps damn near forever, assuming mice or bugs don't get in it, so don't even think of refridgerating it - it just isn't necessary. I've heard a story of a restaurant in Tennessee that fries their burgers in 85-year-old bacon grease, a tale I haven't had the stomach to confirm.
Bacon grease is used in many southern dishes. Cornbread is commonly seasoned with bacon grease, along with grits. Eggs, hashbrowns, and pan fried potatoes are commonly fried in it as well, and it is sometimes spooned over baked chicken to give the flavor that extra 'oomph'. It is also commonly poured, piping hot, over freshly cooked collard greens, although I prefer fatback grease for this purpose. Bacon grease also makes excellent gravy. Burgers can be cooked in bacon grease, along with fried chicken - just about anything that can be fried at a fairly low temperature can be fried in bacon grease. Low temperature is key - bacon grease has a relatively low smoke point, like most animal fats, therefore care must be taken to prevent fires. For an extra special treat, try making a fried onion sandwich out of onions fried in bacon grease - delicious!
For safety, it is not recommended that you fry anything in bacon grease, including bacon, while naked. Bacon grease tends to splatter something awful, and getting scalding hot animal fat on your delicate bits does not tend to be much fun.
Bacon grease is also apparently used as a cutting oil in metalwork, and occasionally as a lubricant in other situations, although I am quite "skeered" to delve too deeply into exactly what those situations are.