I’ll be honest. There’s a part of me that feels a little guilty for posting this recipe. Bacon fat doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of healthy eating. Like most foods, though, we use our common sense and wisdom to eat in moderation. The great part about this dressing is that it’s so packed with flavor, you don’t need much to flavor your salad.
Another thing: There are lots of people out there who have an aversion to salads and can’t get past the mental block that salads are boring and tasteless. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and unique dressings are a great way to keep your salads fun.
I grabbed the herbs for this recipe from my brand new humble potted herb garden I planted about a month ago. Don’t mind the graveyard.
The awesome part about having an herb garden, as I’m realizing, is that I can take as much of an herb that I need without having to go out and buy several expensive bunches of each one.
For this recipe, I grabbed a handful of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. I only used about 4 sage leaves. To go out and spend $4 on a big pack of sage would have stunk, so I’m so thankful to pick and choose exactly what I need at a moment’s notice.
The bacon fat that I used for the dressing came from a special slab that I bought at a Bosnian market. We used to buy bacon like this when I lived in Slovakia for a while, and I tell you, you will never be satisfied going back to sliced grocery store bacon after you’ve experienced slicing the bacon as thick as you want it.
Skip the next few steps if you already have your bacon fat.
If you go for the slab bacon, you may run across a piece of pig skin. Because I don’t like to waste anything, instead of throwing the skin away, I put it fat side down in the pan to try to render a little bit of the fat off before throwing it away.
I was using this bacon for another recipe so the shape is not important. But, as you can see, because I’m using slab bacon, I can cut the slab however I want to. I could make a flippin’ bacon statue if I wanted to. Mmmm….
Put the bacon in a pan and cook on medium heat.
Side note: I wanted to try to render as much of the fat out as possible, so I experimented with cooking the bacon for almost an hour on very low heat. I definitely got a lot of the fat out, but I regret cooking it that slowly, as the bacon was too crunchy for my taste. So, cook on medium-medium/high heat until it’s cooked to your liking.
The bacon keeps cooking in the fat even after you turn off the heat. So feel free to turn off the heat before it’s completely done, so that the fat will continue cooking the meat, as well as cooling off to use in the dressing.
Side note: Does anyone else here keep bacon fat in the fridge? I do. It’s so nice to keep it around and find ways to use it–like with sautéing vegetables, cooking eggs, making bacon butter, etc. If you’ve never tried it, I think it’s worth the tiny bit of effort that goes into it. I’d store it in a heat-proof jar so that you can poor the hot fat into it without it breaking.
You want to get about 3/4 cup of bacon fat, more or less. My dressing is pretty dang bacon-y, so if you just want a hint of it, adjust accordingly.
I like using a Magic Bullet-type thing for my dressings because it’s in such small quantities and really easy cleanup, but use whatever type of blender or food processor you have.
To your blender, add your 3/4 cup oil, about 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, your handful of herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley, or whatever you want), a few chopped cloves of garlic, and a tablespoon or two of honey. I also added a tiny splash of truffle oil here but you don’t have to, as it’s kinda expensive.
Side note: If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can still use dry. Please don’t let that hold you back from homemade dressings. If you don’t have fresh garlic or hate garlic, use what you have (canned, dried, etc.) or skip it all together.
Now pulverize it.
The reason this “recipe” is very loose is because it should be. Everyone likes dressings a little differently–some sweet, some vinegary, some strong, some mild. TASTE it after you’ve blended it. I tasted and blended mine probably 5 or 6 times before it was right. If it would help you, get a piece of tomato or lettuce and test it to see where it should be.
Customizing your dressing to what YOU want is a huge benefit to making it yourself. You also know what’s in it! No preservatives, no chemicals. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.
You can store this in a Mason jar, tupperware, or even a sauce bottle like I did. I like it in the sauce bottle because I can easily shake it up if I need to. You can get these at most Walmarts or restaurant supply stores, and they’re really handy if you start getting in to making your own dressings.
Sorry I don’t have a beautiful photo of the dressing on something sexy. I’ll work on it.
I’m not going to put a price on this dressing for right now because:
- Bacon fat is usually thrown away. Sounds free to me!
- The herbs in my garden were basically free.
- The rest of the ingredients were probably less than 50 cents.
But saying this whole bottle only cost me 50 cents sounds deceiving. Just don’t miss the point: making your own dressing is CHEAP, easy and so, so delicious.
Don’t be limited to just using this with salads! Squeeze some of this on some sautéing brussel sprouts or green beans, drizzle over bruschetta or crostinis or meat marinades — use your imagination!
When bacon fat gets cold it congeals a bit. I’m keeping my dressing in the fridge because it will last longer, and when I plan on using it, I’ll either put a serving in a bowl and stick it in the microwave for a few seconds, or I’ll keep it out for the whole day if I’m planning on using it all at once.
Just wanted you to know that in case you were grossed out the next day by the semi-solid dressing.