Monday, September 28, 2009

2 Words: Bacon Mayonnaise

Where do I get the nerve to do these things? Really.

I don't know if you have ever made mayonnaise, wondered what's in mayonnaise or just consumed mayonnaise, but I am here to potentially ruin your lunch.

Mayonnaise = fat + fat (+ lemon juice). More specifically, mayonnaise is the suspension (a.k.a. emulsification) of one type of fat (oil) into a solid with the use of another type of complex fat (egg yolks). Turn that jar of Helman's around and tell me I'm wrong. It's a bicep-cramping process if you do it by hand,
but the introduction of an electric mixer suddenly makes light work of a gourmet treat. To get the yolks, lemon juice, and oil to combine without separating, you have to add the oil at the speed of an IV drip, whisking all the while. What you end up with is a fluffy, white-ish substance--technically a sauce if we're going to be French about it--for slathering on your ham sandwiches and drowning your chicken salad. I'm sure it has other uses too.

But just imagine--imagine if that already tasty sandwich grease suddenly tasted of smoked pork belly. Imagine your BLT becoming BLT-squared. Imagine those crab cakes bound with a deeply flavored mayo instead of the plain stuff. Imagine your broccoli/potato/chicken/whatever salads with a thin coating of bacon essence. Maybe even a warm spinach dip oozing with bacony goodness?

Well, now you can have it. As long as you have 1/2 cup of bacon grease hanging around your house somewhere. Luckily I have a roommate who really--and I mean really--likes bacon. This man will smoke up the house for three meals a day if it means there's a crispy slab of breakfast meat waiting for him when the air clears. Not wanting to burn a hole in our trash can or clog up our drain, he took to pouring the grease in an old empty can, which we kept in the freezer.
Time out: David and I just had a brief and mystifying conversation during which neither of us could recall why we put the bacon grease in the freezer. We just did.

Time in: So there I am with a tin can-full of bacon fat in my freezer when I read this, which is an excerpt from this, which, for all I can tell, is a must-read. Just a short week later, I was armed with a hand-mixer and a cup full of fat. Check out the results for yourself:
Bacon Fat Mayonnaise
(I kept 'fat' in the title just so you wouldn't forget; makes about 1 cup of mayo; takes 5 minutes once everything is cool)

2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup rendered bacon fat
healthy pinch of each, salt and pepper
  1. You want everything to be refrigerator cold for this, so stash it all--including your mixing bowl and beaters--in the fridge until it reaches that stage.
  2. Start with yolks, mustard, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Blend together on high speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add bacon fat all at once (no need to do this gradually if everything is cold), and beat until thick and combined, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Stir in remaining tsp lemon juice and seasoning. Store in the refrigerator--good for almost a week.

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