Why You Should Make Biscuits With Bacon Fat


A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we’re guessing you have those covered. Psst, did you hear we’re coming out with a cookbook? We’re coming out with a cookbook!

If I had to guess, I’ve baked over 10,000 biscuits, almost all right before or right after sunrise, depending on the time of year in North Carolina where I worked at a small, coffee-scented bakery called Scratch—exactly the sort of place to learn what separates a good biscuit from a great one.

The crust should be crisp, the center should be plush, and the flavor should be Elon Musk–rich with a hint of tang. It must be baked that day or, even better, that hour, so it’s still warm from the oven, just enough to exhale steam when you tear it apart.

But countless roads will take you there. “There are many kinds of biscuits,” Shirley O. Corriher, certified biscuit Genius, writes in BakeWise. “Moist biscuits; flakey biscuits; and John Egerton’s beaten biscuits.”

Some roll out the dough and cut it into circles. Others opt for squares. Others skip the rolling altogether and grab a couple of spoons. Some swear by butter. Others, shortening. Others, lard. Others mix and match.

And while the typical ingredient list isn’t very big to begin with—flour, fat, buttermilk, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt—it can get even littler. The trick is to optimize your flour by ditching all-purpose for self-rising.

What would you serve your biscuits with? Bacon and eggs? Butter and jam? Endless coffee?


A real overachiever, this flour comes with the leaveners and salt already balanced and blended. In addition to such convenience, it’s beloved for a lower protein content, which means softer, loftier, even-better biscuits (and pancakes and muffins and a bunch of other things I wish I had in front of me right now).

Once you have this staple, you’re a third of the way to three-ingredient biscuits, the sort of simple pleasure that sounds too good to be true but isn’t—easy enough to make a Wednesday morning feel like the weekend.

Buttermilk is the most common liquid, and who am I to argue with such creamy, zingy bliss? But the fat is a free-for-all. Maybe it’s butter, or shortening, or even mayonnaise.

This Big Little Recipe opts for bacon. Because when you sizzle strips until chewy-crispy (or crispy-chewy, depending on your vibe), you get the bacon itself, a cook’s treat, or a built-in side. Which is good. Which is great.

But you also get the rendered fat, a baking superstar in its own right. After a stint in the fridge or freezer (or, if you’re in a hurry, an ice bath), bacon fat shifts from liquid to solid, becoming something so smoky, salty, sweet, and buttery, that it puts butter to shame.

And I don’t say this lightly. My cat is named Butter, for heaven’s sake.

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