Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bacon-Fat Ginger Cookies

Yes, that is bacon behind my cookies. Why? Because--as I have just recently learned--behind every truly excellent ginger cookie, there is bacon fat.

The New York Times's fashion critic, of all people, supplied this recipe. The key, she says, is to fry 1 1/2 pounds of cheap bacon and use the resulting milky bacon fat as shortening. Needless to say, I was fascinated. Being a modern cook, I don't save fat, but I know that my hypothetical praire ancestors did. I also know that they cooked with molasses a lot. So I agree with Cathy Horyn's conjecture that this recipe was probably the result of improvisation in a country kitchen. Ever wonder what 3/4 of a cup a bacon fat would look like? Well, here it is:

The article containing this recipe was headed "Season's Drippings." That's all you need to know.

Bacon-Fat Ginger Cookies
(adapted from Cathy Horyn's adaption from Nelle Branson's Trinity Episcopal Church Recipe Book)

Mix together in a large bowl:
3/4 cup bacon fat, cooled (from 1 1/2 pounds of cheap bacon)
1 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons molasses
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used fleur de sel, because that's what I had around)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Chill dough for a few hours in the fridge. Make youself a BLT.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I used greased and floured cookie trays, but Horyn says to use parchment. Form the satisfyingly pliable dough into 1 Tablespoon balls, roll in sugar, and place on the cookie sheet far apart (these babies really spread out). I sprinkled a little extra sugar on the tops of mine as I flattened them with the tines of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until dark and ginger snappy. Cool briefly, and then enjoy bacon as you've never tasted it before.

Tomorrow: Aunt Ester's Sugar Cookies (really)


Dcfoodblog said...

Bacon fat? I'll take your word for it. I'm glad to know that Nigella's meatballs work just as well with meatloaf mix. Ground lamb can be a pain in the ass to find.

mzn said...

I don't know about being a modern cook or whatever, but I save fat like it's money. Right now in the fridge I have chicken, duck, and pork fat just waiting for the right occasion to come along. There's some chicken fat in the freezer too. But I almost always throw away bacon drippings because they have a strong smokey flavor that you don't always want in your non-bacon dishes. Glad to have a new reason to keep it around, though.

Scott said...

I'm soooo curious!!! Thanks for submiting the recipe to my cookie contest!

Anna said...

One of my favorite ginger cookie recipes, one I found in an Ann Hodgman book, uses lard. They're fabulous and definitely do not taste like pork.

Alanna said...

My family loved these! And it was a great way for my non-cook Dad to take part in the annual cookie baking -- he did the bacon! Plus we loved having the bacon chunks on hand, too.

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Sally J. said...

This is wonderful, thanks for sharing. I always save my bacon fat using my WonderPour strainer spout. Makes it so easy. I found mine at wonderpour.com

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Maywyn said...

Bacon fat ginger cookies have a greasy under tone. I made them with half bacon grease, half vegetable lard the second time. The bacon flavor was there without the greasey taste and texture. Without the bacon they are just as good.

In the 1980s the canal town of Roscoe Village, Coshocton, Ohio gave the recipe for members to make the cookies for their Candle Lighting ceremony the beginning of December. Its taken from an old cookbook as well.

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