Pie Crust with Rendered Bacon Fat (aka Bacon Grease Pie Crust) (aka the BEST pie crust ever)
1 c. rendered bacon fat
2 1/2 c. AP flour
1 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
4-6 T. very cold water
Measure bacon fat and then freeze either in plastic wrap or a platic cup/bowl for approximately 1 hour. Remove cold fat from freezer, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Sift flour, salt, and sugar into a mixing bowl, then cut bacon fat into flour mixture until it resembles coarse pea-sized pebbles. Gradually mix in 4T of water, mixing with a fork until dough just comes together. The dough is ready if you pinch a fingerfull together and it does not crumble. If necessary, Add more water, 1T at a time until dough reaches desired consistancy.
Place dough onto a clean cutting board, press together, then split into two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, flatten, and refrigerate about 1 hour (or longer).
Remove dough from refrigerator, place on a lightly floured cutting board, then roll out into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8 in thick) (Hint: often I will place the plastic wrap or a piece of wax paper over the dough while rolling it out so it won’t stick to the rolling pin). Transfer to 9-inch pie pan, and trim the edges if desired.
Repeat with second dough ball, and either use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 days, or place dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll up, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for future use.
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Oh. My. God. This is the best pie crust I have ever tasted! So flaky. So moist. And oh the hint of bacon…
In preparing for our move to Germany, I have been going through the cupboards, the refrigerator, and the freezer trying to use up all those things that I bought ‘for future use’ that I have never gotten around to using (ummm, 6 types of dried seaweed for example!) or have been saving because it’s too good to throw away (namely, rendered bacon fat from all that lovely farmer’s market bacon I’ve been buying most weeks — no matter how much bacon I buy, Steven and I seem to go through it with gusto!)
Looking through my refrigerator, I realized I had not one, but TWO pint jars filled with rendered bacon fat. I think it’s great to cook with, but really, am I going to use 4 cups of bacon grease between now and when we’re leaving at the end of december? probably not. So, I decided that rather than throwing away all that good, organic fat, I would perform a culinary experiment I’ve always wondered about (and that there is frightfully little information on the internet about) — a homemade pie crust made with rendered bacon fat!
So, I went to my typical go-to pie crust and adapted it to use rendered bacon fat. And oh, it was delicious! Besides the hint of bacon, the most remarkable thing about the crust is how incredibly flaky it is. This is due (I believe) to freezing the fat beforehand and not overmixing.
Note though — this is not a neutral pie crust! I wouldn’t recommend using this crust for sweet pies (though it *might* be good if you wanted to make something like this). No, this is meant to be used as a base for savory pies, quiches, and tarts (imagine spinach pie, onion tart, tomato quiche). I think it lends itself particularly well to vegetable pies; it has a hint of smoky meatiness that pairs well with a zingy, fresh vegetable filling.
I used this crust to make a fold-over spinach and tomato tart. Instead of placing pie crust in a pie pan, I transferred it to a baking sheet, sprinkled on some grated swiss cheese, then layered sauteed spinach with garlic, oven roasted tomatoes (homegrown, thank you very much!), some leftover cooked squash, some fresh oregano, and more swiss cheese, leaving about a two inch border of crust. Then, I folded the crust over, brushed it with an egg wash, then baked it at 375 for about 30 minutes until it was golden brown and the cheese was bubbly. Delicious!!!
And one final note, I looked up the nutritional information about rendered bacon fat versus butter, and calorie and fat content-wise, they’re not that different. So, even though this feels totally decadent, it’s really no worse than a regular butter or lard crust. And it is oh so tasty…