Bacon Grease and Lettuce in the Skillet
Also Called Wilted Lettuce or Wilted Salad
Frying Up Some Bacon
I’m often asked how to make that “southern lettuce stuff with bacon grease.” I’ve never heard a name for the recipe around these parts. It’s just something you toss together when you have some bacon grease in the skillet and lettuce in the refrigerator. If there are a couple of slices of bacon left over, then that’s all the better. You’ve got meat for your salad. Just crumble the bacon and sprinkle on right before serving.
That fancy restaurant in Dallas, Texas that revolves above the city (it’s almost always in the skyline photos of Dallas) served me this once and called it Wilted Lettuce. Fair enough. Sound like a pretty good description. It was mighty expensive for what it is, but that’s another story I suppose. A taste of home is priceless when it comes right down to it.
Anyway, back on track. While Bacon Grease Lettuce is usually a quick side dish for a meal, it can be made from scratch. Most people today don’t have a pan of bacon grease left over from breakfast to use at the last minute. It’s rather like Southern Cornbread Salad that was initially a way to use up leftovers. Today, you’re generally going to have to make a pan of cornbread if you want to make the salad.
Bacon Grease Skillet Lettuce Recipe
• 6 slices bacon
• 2 heads of shredded lettuce (or torn in bite sized pieces)
• 1 TBS vinegar (optional)
• Salt (optional - to taste – remembering the bacon grease is salty)
• Fresh ground pepper (optional)
Fry the bacon. Cook it slow, so it will be even, cooked through and crispy. Put the bacon on some paper towels to drain off any extra fat and so the pieces will be crisp.
Dump the lettuce in the hot bacon grease. It should be about medium as far as heat, so turn it up from low (just a bit). Stir the lettuce lightly until it’s coated in the bacon grease and looks kind of wilty.
Add a little vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. These are all optional.
If you want, you can strain and save your bacon grease for this recipe. It will keep a few days. Smell it. If it smells “funny” (rancid), then don’t use it.
If you want, you can use store bacon bits. If you’ve just saved bacon grease, then you won’t have the bacon to crumble in. The salad doesn’t have to have any meat at all. The grease gives it flavor, but the extra pieces of meat are real tasty and add nice texture to the wilted salad.
I’d also note that this recipe is especially good made in a cast iron skillet. You don’t have to use cast iron, but that hint of iron just makes it extra special. It also adds some iron to your diet, so if you have low iron, then try cooking in cast iron.