Editors’ Picks: Our 10 Favorite Ways to Reduce Kitchen Waste By Cooking

“If you look in my fridge, on the middle shelf next to the bottle of Japanese plum vinegar and jars of preserved lemons, you’ll find a bright red silicone container with a pig face-shaped lid. It’s the bacon bin my friend Kim bought me for my birthday a few years ago, and the secret hero of my kitchen.

I started saving bacon fat while working as a cook at a hotel in Maine. (Usually in an old jar; the bacon bin is a real upgrade.) My chef there taught me how to give a second life to bacon—and its rendered fat—leftover from breakfast by using the fat to sweat the onions and celery for clam chowder and crumbling up the bacon to sprinkle on top of each bowl as a garnish. These days, I scoop out a little bacon fat to use when sautéing onions for soup or a stew, or to grease my cast-iron pan before making cornbread. And there’s nothing better in the summer than fresh corn from the farmers’ market gently sautéed in bacon fat until barely cooked and heated through. In colder months, I turn to chef Tim Cushman’s Spaghettini with Warm Bacon-Mushroom Vinaigrette, in which you sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic in rendered bacon fat, and then hit the mixture with a little balsamic vinegar for a bright dose of acidity. Sometimes I throw a handful of chopped kale into the pan as well, letting the leaves wilt as I toss everything together. The resulting dish of noodles glistening with bacon fat and coated with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is simple and comes together in minutes, but the bacon fat gives it rich carbonara vibes. It’s just the thing to eat on a night when you want to reduce your kitchen waste while eating something simple but packed with smoky, fatty flavor.” –Chandra Ram, Associate Editorial Director, Food

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