In terms of flavour and price point, it is hard to beat bacon grease as a cooking fat. It’s smoky and salty and — if you’re already eating bacon — you can enjoy the grease as kind of a “bonus” byproduct at no additional cost and use it to cook your entire meal in a single pan.
I use the rendered fat to grease my pans and pop my corn, but its highest calling is indeed this perfect one-pan breakfast. After you’ve cooked your bacon up nice and crispy, you can use the leftover grease to fry bread, and then fry, scramble, or framble your eggs. Order of operations matters, however: By starting with a cold pan and cooking the bacon over low-ish heat, you render out a ton of grease, which you can then use to cook your bread and eggs. After the bacon is done, I crank up the heat to fry the bread, then turn off the burner and use the residual heat in the hot pan for the eggs. Then I eat it all and clean one (1) pan.
I consider myself an oven bacon stan, especially if I am making breakfast for two or more people. But turning on a whole-arse oven for three slices of bacon is a waste of energy, particularly when I can make perfect, flat, crispy bacon by starting with a cold pan. We’ve covered this before, but to recap:
A ripping hot pan may be necessary for getting a good crust on a chop or steak, but it is the enemy of crispy bacon. Basically, when you toss streaky bacon into a very hot environment, it seizes, curls, and cooks before the fat has any time to render out. This means gummy, not crispy bacon.
Give that porcine treasure a bit of time to become its best self by laying it out in a cold pan, turning the heat to medium-low, and letting the fat render out slowly, giving the bacon plenty of time and plenty of fat in which to crisp.
Set your bacon in a cold pan (either nonstick or a very well-seasoned cast iron), set the heat around medium-low (or lower), and let the bacon take its time. The lower the heat, the more fat you’ll get out of it, but medium-low will let you render plenty. Once the bacon is crispy and the fatty portions are golden, transfer it to some paper towels to drain, and grab a slice of bread.
A quick dip is all it takes
Fried bread is better than toast. The fat not only gets the bread all crunchy on the outside, it infuses it with flavour, meaning you can skip butter entirely if you are so inclined (but I wouldn’t judge you for buttering your fried bread). Bread is a very porous material, however, and it sucks up bacon grease quite readily. You’ll want to save a little for the eggs, so give each side of the bread a dip in the hot grease, then pour the rest into a bowl. (Hold the bread on a spatula while you pour.) Next, increase the heat to high, return the bread to pan, fry it on both sides until it is golden-brown, then slide it onto a plate along with your bacon. Now it’s egg time.
You have options
A cold egg is a sad egg, which is why I always cook them last. Now you must choose what kind of egg you want to accompany your bacon and fried bread. You can do a classic sunny-side-up with crispy edges, a quick scramble, or a framble — which is sort of half scrambled in the pan, to keep some of the yolk pure and unincorporated. If you are doing a fried egg — which my family calls “dirty eggs” — keep the heat high and add your last bit of grease back to the pan, then crack the egg directly into the puddle of hot grease and let it fry until the edges are crispy before sliding onto the plate.
If you’re making a scramble, return the grease to the hot pan, then crack a few eggs into a jar or other sealable container and shake them until they are uniformly yellow with no streaky wisps. Remove the pan from the heat and place onto a cool burner, then add the eggs to the pan and move them around in swooping motions until they are just set.
For a framble, add the grease back to the pan, then move it to a cool burner. Crack the eggs in grease, then pierce the yolks with the corner of your spatula and let them ooze a bit. Gently move the eggs around the pan, scrambling them in some parts but leaving other portions whole. Transfer to the plate with the bread and bacon, season with pepper (the grease should provide plenty of salt), and enjoy immediately.