By Ari Weinzweig
When Jim Reische (pronounced “Reesh,” as in “sheesh”) was suggested as someone who’d be ideal to edit this book I can’t say I was thinking much about recipes. For me, editing was more about good grammar, communication skills and the ability to deliver constructive criticism in ways that I could hear it well. Seeing as he’s done all that and more I feel very good about his work. What I never thought about and certainly didn’t expect were good ideas about cooking (nor did I anticipate that we’d share an affinity for Andre Williams!). Anyways, one of the first times we were meeting to talk publishing, Jim announced out of the blue that he used to make bacon fat mayonnaise. Both in content and in context he caught me so off guard that I had to pause and ponder the notion for a few minutes. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of it, and the recipe is even better “in person.”
Here’s Mr. Reische’s recipe for bacon fat mayonnaise. It’s pretty much good anywhere you’d want to put a little flavor of cured and smoked pork belly. Try a bit on a burger, a salad, dabbed onto deviled eggs or in potato salad. (For me it’s a bit much on a BLT, but you can certainly try for yourself.) It’s great as the dressing for a shrimp or chicken salad instead of your “regular” mayo. I’ve got it going into the bowl of North Carolina Fish Muddle, the way you’d do rouille with bouillabaisse. Try it brushed onto grilled corn on the cob, then rolled in grated cheese, the way people in Mexico use regular mayonnaise. Basically . . . bacon fat mayonnaise is just plain good, a very civilized way to subtly (and invisibly to the naked eye) put the flavor of bacon into or onto most anything you’re up for eating.
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
7 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1¼ cups rendered bacon fat
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper to taste
Chill all the ingredients and utensils (including your mixing bowl) down to about 40°F. Don’t skip this step or the mayonnaise may break.
Put the egg yolks, mustard, and 1½ teaspoons of the lemon juice into a blender or mixing bowl. Beat on high for 2 minutes, until well blended.
Add in the bacon fat (no need to add gradually if everything’s properly chilled), continuing to beat until the mixture is thick. Depending on how thick and rich you like your mayonnaise you may or may not need the entire amount of fat.
Slowly blend in the remaining lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, whipping it pretty much continuously throughout. Adjust seasoning to taste.
The mayonnaise keeps for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Yields about 2 cups
BFMLT: The Bacon Fat Mayo, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich
This could be the sandwich of choice for borderline baco-tarians. There’s no bacon visible to turn off non-meat eaters, but the flavor still beckons softly from the creamy mayonnaise. The sandwich is actually delicious no matter how you feel about eating meat.
Take 2 slices of toast and spread them with plenty of the bacon fat mayo, top with some nice leaf lettuce (or tender mustard greens, if you can find them) and slices of ripe tomato (or, if it’s not tomato season, roasted red pepper). I like to add slices of grilled zucchini, as well—the smokiness of the grill brings out the subtle smokiness of the bacon fat.
You can find more bacon-centric recipes – 42 total! – in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon