The hotly anticipated bacon salt has arrived. It is everything we could’ve hoped for, and more. And by “and more” I of course mean that our growing dependence on delicious smoky pork-fat-flavored salt is a little frightening. We’ve tried it on a variety of things, and when we’re not actually eating it (and murmuring—Homer Simpson-style—“Mmmmm… bacony…”) we’re trying to top one another in disgustingness by suggesting we put it on absolutely everything.
It’s more than a seasoning, it’s also a fun pastime! Sort of a brain twister, you know! And something of an obsession! Hey, I was (mostly) kidding when I suggested it would’ve been good on that funnel cake.
So the kids went off to the Big City with their dad this weekend, and Otto and I headed out for a day of adventure. We went and had lunch up in Helen, which touts itself as “Mountain Beauty with a Touch of Bavaria!” I don’t know that “a touch” is the proper way to quantify it unless you’re talking about the HEADS of the PEOPLE who decided to do what’s been done to that town (in which case TOUCHED is more the proper term, I believe), but whatever. Helen DOES have mountain beauty, and it also has a TOUCH of Bavaria if you consider a TOUCH to be that every single building in the town is made to look like a Chalet in the Alps. This includes the Mexican restaurant, the laundromat, etc. It’s… a little freaky, frankly.
But we’d been told that Helen was a place to see, so we went and saw it. We also had some schnitzel and some corned beef and then I had a funnel cake which simultaneously caused the angels to sing and my arteries to harden. It was a thing of beauty. With every bite, I’d think to myself, “God, this is good. Okay. I’ve had enough. I have to stop now.” And then I’d have another bite and have the same conversation with myself.
(And then I suggested it would be even better with bacon salt. Which pretty much makes it official that I AM Homer Simpson, if Homer were a woman in her mid-30s.)
After Helen we did some time at the local outlets, wherein we managed to replace Otto’s 4-year-old sandals and officially become southerners by going to the Lodge Outlet and buyin’ us some of them there cast iron cookery.
While we were trying to decide what to get, an ever-helpful sales woman came over to assist us and of course ended up asking if I’d ever cooked on cast iron before. I admitted that I hadn’t, and she looked at me as if I’d just confessed to sometimes just holding my hands over the stovetop and putting the food in my cupped palms in order to cook it. She was INCREDULOUS. And so I asked her what tastes better when cooked in cast iron and she said “EVERYTHING!” and I tried not to laugh and asked her for a specific example, and then she thought and said something about how meats stay more tender, and then she busted out the money quote:
“Well, you can’t beat bacon made in a cast iron skillet.”
Otto and I looked at each other—employing that special spousal telepathy—and that was when we knew we’d be buying a skillet and testing out the bacon theory for sure. (Confession: When we walked into the Lodge store, all I was really thinking about was how my homemade cornbread is almost always dry. Oh, the shame of admitting that. But it is. And I think it needs cast iron to be RIGHT. Which will hopefully mean NOT DRY.)
Actually, we ended up buying a small set, because Otto wanted the dutch oven (me, I have no idea what to do with the dutch oven, but he said something about roasting a chicken and then I suggested he use bacon salt and I forget what else we said after that) and I wanted a couple of different skillets and the set was the cheapest way to get all of that.
Oh, I forgot to mention that when we moved in to the house, among all of the “welcome to the neighborhood” things that got sent to us was a coupon to get a $10 gift card to spend at the outlets. So the FIRST thing we did was go to the office and get that, and then after a couple of hours of walking around and shopping and finding nothing, we walked into a gourmet kitchen supply store and ended up spending that card on margarita mix buckets, because we are fancy. “Thanks for the free drinks, Outlet Stores!” I may have called out as we left. Otto suggested we rim the margarita glasses with bacon salt when we make them.
Back home, last night, it was close to 9 by the time we realized we should have some dinner. We’d had such a heavy lunch we weren’t very hungry, so Otto just made us some grilled cheese sandwiches. With bacon salt. (So good.)
After church this morning we broke out the cast iron and made bacon and eggs. I don’t know if it was the best bacon I ever had, but it WAS bacon and therefore very yummy.
But I think Otto started getting just a wee bit concerned when I suggested that it might have been even better with bacon salt.
Otto is such a good husband. When mine talks about dutch ovens, he is not talking about cookware.
I got that bacon salt and I have mixed feelings about it- in some ways it seems like glorified Bac-Os. But I think I need to try them on more stuff. Like funnel cakes.
Ahh, cast iron cooking. Lodge….
My husband spent $500 dollars the last time he was there. Dutch oven could be his middle name. We have oodles of recipes and such, so email me if you’d like any.
And it’s true: everything tastes better cooked in cast iron.
I make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet (using Aunt Jemima’s cornmeal mix –because that’s what my husband’s grandmother (form Alabama) used.) It’s not dry. then we cruble it on a plate, ladle black-eyed peas on it and top it off with tomato relish. It’s heaven. It doesn’t even NEED bacon salt. No. Seriously.
I swear I’m not drunk (as far as you know.) She’s FROM Alabama and we CRUMBLE the cornbread. I either need less or more wine.
I have just recently started reading your blog and LOVE it! I usually lurk in the shadows, but when you said you bought a cast iron pan and used it the next day, I have to ask you a question.
Um, did the lady tell you a cast iron pan must be seasoned? (Unless it has an enamel coating.) I am from the midwest (my mom is from the south) and I use my cast iron pan A LOT. One thing I have learned from my southern mama is that cast iron needs to be seasoned. It takes several days to a week to get it done.
I hope you don’t mind me asking. I thought I would let you know about it in case you didn’t know already. Since the lady left it pretty broad what is the best in cast iron (everything is good, but some things are better) my answer is fried chicken. And I bet the bacon salt added would make it even better.
I’m going to agree with Deputy’s Wife about the seasoning thing. Mine became rusted after I washed it and I was told it was because I didn’t season it. I believe the whole seasoning thing is about rubbing some oil on it or something like that. Not sure because mine got all rusted and I no longer have it.
Bacon salt is really yummy on popcorn.
I’m from Oregon but…bacon grease is an excellent seasoner for your cast iron. :)
I thought you’d like that.
I sent my husband the bacon salt website and he was predictably excited. Have never heard of this “Lodge” but will hide it from that same husband as he looooves new cooking tools. He’s a very good cook and in the beginning of our marriage was the main meal preparer then one day up and decided that I needed to learn how. WHYYYYYY?! If it ain’t broke, let’s not fix it.
Mir, I love your blog. Hope the kids had a good weekend away.
some of lodge’s stuff comes pre-seasoned. is that what you got mir? otherwise, yes, it should be seasoned (lodge usually includes instructions with their pans).
and never EVER wash your cast iron. seriously – it is better just to wipe it out after you’re done. the seasoning gets even better that way. if you have to wash it for some reason (something stuck on), don’t soak it. just wash it out and dry it immediately.
i love me some cast iron skillets. i only have a couple, but my mom has a whole set of different sizes. a well-seasoned pan is like gold. seriously.
Silly. You are only supposed to visit Helen during Octoberfest. It’s very Bavarian when you have on beer googles.
I also bought the bacon salt after your post the other day. I went for the trio and it is stashed in my secret hiding place waiting to be stocking-stuffed at Christmas for the husband. He has a cast iron frying pan which he loves and which I am not allowed to touch. Sometimes, just for fun, I tell him that it’s in the dishwasher or that I have just put and SOS to it. Ha ha, it’s fun to see him jump up while spinning around shouting NOOOOOOO. Boys.
First off, with a Dutch oven you can make some awesome pies.
Secondly, I double dog dare you to put the bacon salt on vanilla ice cream.
I’m thinking the Bacon Salt people should send you a free lifetime supply for all this advertising you’re giving them ;-)
I always dry my cast iron cookware on the stove…. on a burner set on low… if I have to wash it. Your other commentators (as opposed to the specialtators, like me) have it right. It WILL rust and be unusable. If you have to wash it … it has to be completely dry.
Enjoy the bacon salt… :-) And… I echo Marvo… you’ve been double dog dared twice now. AND… we want pictures.
Helen scares me. But in a fascinated I can’t stop looking sort of way. I’ve only been there once but I want to go again. I think they put some spell on you as you leave that cause you to need to go back and stare and wonder how people can live there and work there everyday.
Scary but fascinating.
Agree with the seasoning part. The Lodge website is quite helpful if you misplace the directions. As for cleaning, we pour kosher salt in it and scrub the pan with a paper towel. Reason season with a little rub of veg oil if necessary.
Also, rust can be undone if that happens to you.
Fried chicken is delicious in a cast iron skillet. As well as corn and flour tortillas.
As with many great things in life, don’t judge your pans from the first use-they improve with use!
I’m glad y’all enjoyed the redneck Alps. Did you play the mini-golf? That is THE BEST PART, although that might just be because we were both squiffy when we played and got the giggles. There’s even a make-out bench in the middle.
(I guess that’s for in case you get real excited by the ninth hole.)
A well seasoned cast iron skillet is ESSENTIAL to great fried chicken, wonderful corn bread, amazing bacon, crispy juicy chicken fried steak…and even a healthy meal of sauteed veggies is better in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet…
I use mine practically DAILY. Welcome to the cast iron world, Mir. How the heck could it have taken this long?!
I spewed some iced tea when I read Meghann’s comment about her dh and the Dutch ovens…just thought she should know.
I’ve used cast iron frying pans for over twenty years. (The same pans. They last FOREVER.) As previous people have mentioned, it needs to be seasoned before first use. It may need to be seasoned occasionally thereafter, if you notice it looking a bit dull inside instead of that nice, glossy black.
Also, when you clean it? NEVER use soap. It removes all that lovely seasoning – and you’ll get rust. Just take the hot pan, and scour it with a metal pad under running water. (It’ll hiss and steam like crazy, which is kinda fun.) Then put it on the burner on low to dry. When the water is gone, drop in a tablespoon of oil, swish it around, and turn the burner off. Leave the warm pan on the burner so the oil will be absorbed readily, and, voila! Perfectly clean and re-seasoned pan.
Love me my cast iron.
My grandmother gave us a cast iron skillet and her old family cornbread recipe when we got married. I didn’t make cornbread for a year because I was afraid of seasoning the skillet wrong. It still freaks me out a little bit not to actually *wash* it wash it, but it seems to be doing what it’s supposed to. We get a lot of mileage out of having to “oil up the skillet.” As in, “Boy, I’d oil her skillet.” And good googly moogly, but it makes some good gravy.
My hubby wants to get a cast iron fry pan. Holy cow, I’d have to take out a loan to buy one here across the pond.
OH and he doesn’t cook anymore either LOL.
I forgot to say, mmmmmmmmm bacon salt. I’ve tried the ones that I found in the supermarkets here and they are nasty.
I went to Georgia once. To a wedding. In Helen. I am from upstate New York, we have Santa’s Village and Cooperstown here. But Helen? It scared me.
We’ve been to Helen numerous times for the hiking in Unicoi State Park (which is beautiful), but yeah, that place has a very high creepiness factor. Once you get past the kitschiness of it all though it can be charming. And I loooove that funnel cake place, so jealous! :)
The only thing I have left to say is my hubby better be getting me bacon salt for my birthday this year!
Make sure you treat those cast iron pieces!
You’re right…. you are a female Homer Simpson!
deep south secret for cornbread – Jiffy cornbread mix. make it in your new lodge cookware. This’ll take care of folks whose great-grandmama Smith didn’t teach them how to make proper cornbread.
don’t tell anyone I told you.
That’s it. I’m buying me some bacon salt.
I think the correct Southern pronounciation of “touched” is “tetched.” As in, she’s just a tad bit tetched in the haid.
I just can’t imagine what bacon salt might contain. Really. How can it taste like bacon?
As for Bavaria I have to add that the Bavarian town I live in looks nothing like that town you linked to. It isn’t near the Alps, that’s true, but really.
Mir, last night I was at a party, and we tried this bacon chocolate bar, and I immediately thought of you. And oh my, I am not a lover of all things bacon, but I have to tell you, this chocolate bacon bar? Was SO GOOD. I know it sound weird. But it was not. It was excellent. You must buy one.
My husband *loves* the Lodge Outlet…we stop every time we pass through Commerce. The dutch oven is awesome for outdoor cooking…his campsite chicken and dumplings is legendary!
Ugh, I have a meeting in Helen this week, so now you’ve prepared me.
dude, i’ve been trying to figure out where you live in ga (i’m from there and my parents still live there). helen is 20 minutes north of them. it’s so weird, anywhere i go, people have never heard of my hometown, even if they’re from near there, but everyone knows freakin helen. if you go drink at paul’s there you can meet some of the delightful rednecks from my town. the first time i every drank NEAR home (i’m 24 and my party career began in college) my friend and i went to a bar in helen and i pretty much HAD to get plastered to not be depressed to be there. but when i was a kid i loved it. mostly that candy shop and the funnel cake.
Yep, me too. I linked over and bought the bacon salt. All three of them.
The BEST roast chicken ever? Crockpot. Seriously. Just toss the chicken in the pot dry and turn it on. No water, nothing. All day on low, half day on high. More or less (it’s very forgiving). Honestly, the most moist roast chicken you’ll ever have. And incredibly flavorful.
Sometimes I sprinkle a little Seasoned Salt on it, which is ! But I bet Bacon Salt would be even better.
1.) mmm…I can’t wait to get me some Bacon Salt!
2.) Cast iron for cornbread and fried chicken. Definitely. Wash sparingly, dry thoroughly on the burner, season with oil(and Bacon Salt).
3.) The Bavarian village in my neck of the woods: http://www.leavenworth.org . Go to Oktoberfest, drink much beer, do the Chicken Dance.
I also bought the bacon salt. I put a bit on my popcorn last night and I also thought it tasted like Bac-Os, but I’m not judging until I put it on green beans and mashed potatoes!
Homer to Bart: “Butter that bacon! Bacon that sausage!”
Bart: “But Dad! My heart hurts…”
Still laughing over Dutch Oven. In my house, it means something different…
I too will be purchasing some bacon salt.
Before you bake your cornbread in the cast iron skillet, preheat it with two or three tablespoons of bacon fat. (You do save your bacon fat right?) Get it really hot so when you pour in the batter it sizzles. Mmmh, crunchy, bacony crust on your cornbread…
My boyfriend and I went to a local restaurant for breakfast pretty much every week. He always ordered a side of bacon, even if his breakfast included bacon already. One of the waiters mentioned a Maxim article that wondered if bacon made everything better. I believe there was a bacon martini, bacon inside a twinkie, etc. But the big one that made boyfriend’s eyes light up was a bacon sundae.
Boyfriend got so excited, he went on about the bacon sundae idea for months. Finally, they actually made him one and brought it to the table as a joke after breakfast one day(no syrup, just bacon crumbled over ice cream). And he actually ate it. His bacon lovin’ verdict is a reluctant no on the sundae. But only because the cold ice cream makes the bacon crumbles a funny texture.
No, I didn’t try it. I’m the sane one.
His Bacon Salt trio arrived today.
1. cast iron skillet (stolen from parents) YAY!
2. bacon salt for dad’s b-day (to make up for skillet?) YAY!
3. the directions for eating chocolate on that bacon-chocolate bar website that Arduous mentioned? YIKES!
I can understand the idea, but I don’t really need to fondle my chocolate…I just need to EAT it.
that is all.
If Southerners are not washing their pots and pans…we know why the place is crawling with Palmetto bugs.
If you wash it, you have to oil it? Just where do you store all these oily pans that you will then use to ‘make good pies’? As you are eating the pies, do you think about the Palmetto toes that were skidding through the oil till baking day?
I’m starting to get the vapours ( and I’m not even Southern!)
mmmm dutch oven. THe perfect place to cook a chicken or make a stew or BBQ shrimp or… I”m getting a bit carried away aren’t I. I do hope she told you how to take care of it when you bought it, because that whole seasoning, and oiling thing was very foreign to me when I first found cast iron cookware. BUt it’s so worth it. And I’ve never been to the south.
Bacon salt.. I love salt, I am staring at the entire canister of Morton’s salt skillfully poured by the 6 yr. old, Thanks Brandon….
Lodge has an outlet? Now, that floors me. Obviously, I’m living way north.
If Helen scares you, you should try Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.
I thought of another good use for the skillet — bacon pancakes. Mmmmmmmm. Lord bless ’em.
Another benefit of cast iron cookware is that some of the iron is imparted to your food. I don’t know if you ever have low iron, but a lot of women do.
I’m with Roxanne. I would love me some iron cookware, but the thought of cooking with something that has not been washed just gives me the shudders. Just can’t do it. Ugh.
Mmm… bacon with bacon salt. Oh! the layeredbaconflaver. I can only imagine.
Have you tried ice cream with bacon salt?
I’m just wondering if you carry the bacon salt around with you. Does it come with it’s own bacon salt fanny pack? That way you can try it out on everything and determine whether it really IS better with bacon salt.
New birthday present ideas–Otto can get you a bacon wallet FILLED WITH BACON CHOCOLATE!!! Seriously, I am enamored of the chocolate dusted fire hot tortilla chips on this site, but I don’t see how I can ever pay 20.00 plus s & h for a can of chips when there are so many SHOES on eBay. Life: full of incredibly hard choices.
You really can wash cast iron (and in my mind you SHOULD wash it). I had a cast iron skillet for a while and washing it (with soap) is fine as long as you season it with oil afterwards. The main issue, in my mind, is that when the skillet is full of food it is sooooo heavy!! I gave up on it because it was too tough to lift. Maybe I just make too much food!!
Oh, chicken: crockpot is best, definitely. Cook on low with 1/3 – 1/2 cup Walden Farms Fat Free Italian Dressing, 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Delicious! Can layer potatoes under for an (almost) complete meal.