Woodworking again: The wonders of bacon grease

By Dave Wood
Posted 8/30/22

WOODWORKING Again Back in the day, my journalistic hero was a fellow named Will Jones, who wrote a column for years that appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune called “After Last Night,” a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Woodworking again: The wonders of bacon grease


Back in the day, my journalistic hero was a fellow named Will Jones, who wrote a column for years that appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune called “After Last Night,” a beat in which he covered restaurants, saloons and—one of his colleague Eddie Schwartz used to say-Houses of Ill Repute.

Will was not only a nightlife critic, but also an author. His most famous book was “Wild in the Kitchen with Will Jones,” a book I treasure because it includes such stuff as “Meals that Failed,” “All Gray Meals,” “How to Make Braunschweiger at home in Thirty Easy Steps (worth it!).” My favorite chapter and one which in spires me to write this column is “Universal Ingredient X: A Magic Secret Recipe,” in which Will tells the reader about a little-known cheese called “Sap Sago,” which came cone-shaped in a little silver wrapper. It was hard as a rock and infused with bits of sage, which tinted it pale green. Will’s advice: “Grate this stuff onto anything, from scrambled eggs to pasta which will make the dullest meal tasty.” Well, not quite everything, like Cheerios, but certainly on oatmeal and especially pasta. The first time I served it on buttered pasta the guests went crazy for more.

Sadly, I haven’t seen a cone of Sap Sago in a grocery for decades. It apparently disappeared in the invisible spaces of refrigerator cases, hidden by mountains of Greek yogurt, tasteless string cheese, and all kinds of cultured dairy products good for the bowels. Anyway, Sap Sago is gone and I am taking it upon myself to introduce an old, but some- what forgotten Universal Ingredient X. Are you ready? Here goes: My Grandma Wood’s Bacon Grease. Before Grandma, her husband-to-be al ways said in school in the late 19th century, one could tell a student who was native born from an immigrant by what was spread on their bread at lunch. Yankees, he said always had bacon grease spread. Polish and Norwegian kids had white leaf lard spread on their breads, which they managed to scarf down with lots of salt. Good point Grandpa. You have to have your farm paid for before you can afford bacon (these days one has to mort gage the farm just to buy a pound of bacon!)

Grandma was Scandy and in her Kelvinator fridge there was always a green and yellow Crisco can full of Bacon Grease, poured from breakfast frying pans to be used in all manner of creative permutations.

Dice old boiled potatoes from dinner for Sunday supper by frying them until crispy in Bacon Grease. (If you’re short of potatoes, toss in some cubed stale bread. Fried, the combination is delicious!

Baste your eggs with sizzling bacon grease, until the eggs’ edges begin to turn up and make “lace curtain eggs.” Smear raw pork ribs before cooking with bacon grease. Let them “marinate” in a cooler for a day or three. Wipe them dry and broil them in your Weber. We ate these in a Miami of Ohio saloon near campus and watched the Badgers win a bowl game, aided by generous pours from the bartender, who hailed from Wisconsin.

Grandma Wood’s Tour de Force. During winter, one day a week our supper consisted of slices of homemade bread, smeared with the following delicious concoction, guaranteed to warm the cholesterol globules enclosing your heart. Dig into the bowl of coagulated bacon grease and get a big blob, making sure to dredge up some brown stuff from the bottom of the bowl. Put the grease in your own little bowl. Pour dark Karo syrup all over it, whip with a fork until fluffy and unctuous. Smear onto white bread. Eat. Fall asleep by the cookstove.

After it appeared in the college newspaper at Augsburg, the recipe reappeared in Will Jones’s “After Last Night.” Jones concluded that Wood calls the dish “Norwegian Guacamole.” It made my day.

Also, from Sandy Caldwell, a well-to-do friend from Bowling Green. She fried bacon until crisp, tossed it in the waste basket and made pie crust for Thanksgiving with the resultant bacon grease, as I watched and ate the bacon out of the waste basket.

From a passed-on grandmother who lived in River Falls, I’ve also heard that she popped corn in bacon grease for a real tasty treat. I can’t wait to try it.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554,

bacon grease, Dave Wood, column, opinion