Double The Bacon In Your BLT With Leftover Grease Aioli

When it comes to BLT sandwiches, who wouldn't want bacon coming forward in every bite? The meat gets top billing, after all. But an easy way to add even more smoky flavor is with an ingredient that's naturally created when you're making a BLT: bacon grease. Instead of throwing it out when you're done cooking, save it and mix it into some homemade aioli. This will infuse your sandwich with twice the bacon flavor, making it twice the sandwich it normally is.

Historically, aioli is a sauce typically found in Spanish and French cuisine that contains just garlic and oil. This is in contrast to mayonnaise, which is an emulsion of oil, egg, and an acid (such as lemon or vinegar.) Today, the two terms are often used interchangeably, with aioli often connoting a more upscale mayo, but they are different. Although, you could use mayo in the case of the BLT, too.

What's crucial is that you replace the oil in either option with the bacon grease for a huge flavor boost.

How to carefully handle bacon grease

Bacon grease is the fat that renders out of the meat when it's cooked. Before you handle bacon grease to make your BLT condiment, it needs to cool down from its high-heat cooking temperature. Leave the grease in the pan until it's cool enough to work with but hasn't yet solidified. Then pour it through a strainer to remove any food particles that are left in the oil. If you're not using it right away and want it for a future BLT, you can pour the grease into an airtight container like a mason jar; when it's kept in the refrigerator, it has a shelf-life of three to six months. 

Bacon grease has tons of cooking applications beyond making your sandwich more delicious. It can be used in place of butter in certain recipes, such as when making pie crust or biscuits. You can also use it as cooking oil to sauté vegetables or meat to infuse your dish with smoky flavor. Just keep in mind that bacon grease has a fairly low smoking point of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you should not use it for cooking applications that require high heat, as the grease will burn and turn acrid.

When disposing of bacon grease you don't plan to use, as with any fat, you should never pour it down the drain. This can lead to pipe blockages that can be a serious hazard. Instead, make sure your grease is cool enough to begin solidifying, and then scrape it into the trash.

More tips for the ultimate BLT

Because it has so few ingredients, the best BLT happens when you treat each component with care. In addition to upgrading your aioli, look for ripe heirloom tomatoes that are bursting with flavor, and individually season the tomato with salt and pepper to amp up the fruit's natural sweetness and umami flavors. Another tip for the crispiest bacon is to add a little flour to the pan while it's cooking.

As with any sandwich, the bread you use is crucial as well. You want a good option that won't overwhelm the sandwich, like a high-quality sourdough. The bread should also be toasted. This not only improves the flavor, but it makes the sandwich easier to eat. Bread that isn't toasted is chewier, which can make the other ingredients slide around when you try to take a bite. 

Toasting also gives you another way to boost the flavor using the bacon grease. Rather than just popping some slices in the toaster oven, try preparing the bread in a pan with the grease. Pair that with your aioli and you will have triple the bacon flavor.