I’m a big fan of would-you-rathers.
Chalk it up to my at-times paralyzing indecisiveness, or penchant for the fanciful. There’s something refreshing and enjoyable about choosing between two completely impossible or painfully awkward alternatives.
Here’s a kicker for you–if you had to choose only one to eat for the rest of your life, would you choose bacon or sausage?
Someone posed that question to me at work today. Without even pausing to breathe, I answered, “Bacon. How is that even a question?”
(She’s a sausage girl, so needless to say, I think I left her a bit offended. I stand by my choice.)
I suppose that now would be as good a time as any to talk about my feelings towards meat. I can remember, with perfect saliency, the first time I bit into a cheeseburger. I was seventeen.
The meat tasted sharp, rich, slightly metallic and like a bit of a come to Jesus. Funny thought, coming from the mouth of a vegetarian.
I left that little morsel out. Until I was seventeen, I was a vegetarian. For anyone who knows me now, and has had the pleasure of witnessing me order steak frites, rare–this could come as quite a shock. I more or less avoided most forms of meat (which, when you think about the background I come from maybe a sheer miracle) for the bulk of my childhood. And one day, at the ripe old age of fourteen, I read Fast Food Nation from cover to cover and finally just put my foot down. My mother humored me, under the assumption that this would be just a phase.
This was not a phase.
I can’t remember ever actually missing the stuff. At that point in my life I had just phased meat out, so what was I really missing?
It turns out that my body had some other ideas in mind. After years of diligent research, careful dieting and copious amounts of iron supplements, I got a pretty direct talking-to from my doctor. Enough, she said, waving my iron count in my face. Words like severe anemia and chronic fatigue flew around the room, and after some ardent protest I ceded defeat.
And what was I really missing? The smell of sizzling bacon, apparently.
That first bite of an In-N-Out cheeseburger felt like a betrayal. I was angry with myself for giving in, the way so many angsty teenagers can be, and I was livid with my body for failing me. But it also felt…right. The meat melted in my mouth, warm against the crisp lettuce and fresh tomato. And just as soon as I’d started, I just couldn’t stop.
I’d like to say it’s been smooth sailing from that point forward, but let’s be honest. It took a good week for me to keep any form of animal protein down in my stomach, but I haven’t looked back since. Instead, I pay attention to what I put into my body, where it came from, how it was raised. I savor each bite that touches my lips.
And I can answer that would-you-rather honestly. Bacon, always.
This recipe provides the perfect solution for that excess ton or jar of bacon greases we’ve all accumulated at one point or another. When Sarah and I first stumbled upon it I think we were equal parts appalled and intrigued. There isn’t a lick of butter in it, and I can’t saying that miss it.
Seems to beg the question–would you rather?
Recipe after the jump.
Bacon Fat Gingersnaps, slightly adapted from Epicurious
3/4 cup bacon fat (from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds bacon), at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Combine bacon fat, cup of sugar, molasses, and egg in the base of a stand mixer (or with a whisk, the old fashioned way) until fully incorporated, about 4 minutes. Add dry ingredients to the mixture and beat on high for five minutes. Pour dough into cling wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Break off 1 tablespoon lumps of the dough and roll into balls, then roll in the remaining ¼ cup sugar until coated. Evenly space them on the baking sheets (these puppies will spread slightly), and bake for 12 minutes until dark brown. Let them rest on the baking sheets to harden slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool.