Recipe: Wilted Bacon Salad

Don't make this recipe on purpose, that is, don't fry bacon just so you can have wilted bacon salad. This is a leftover recipe, a dish designed to squeeze the very last possible amount of bacony goodness out of a pan of bacon. Restaurants present this dish as though it were something sophisticated. Nope. It's a back-of-the-house secret cook treat, meant to be shared only with people you really like. Like burnt cheese.

First, make bacon for another recipe. Save out a few bacon strips, hiding well inside a container of yogurt or other "healthful" container as camouflage.

Pour off the bacon grease and reserve for another purpose. (Do not scoff at using bacon grease instead of fake butter spray or whatever. Do not fake a heart attack. Just use a little bit. After all, if you have leftover bacon grease, it means you ate the bacon in the first place, so don't have a cow knee-jerk reaction, okay?)

Heat the bacon pan back up to sizzling temperature. Add enough red wine vinegar to produce about 1/4 c. of dressing. If too much evaporates, add more. Deglaze (i.e., scrape the crunchies off) the pan and pour the dressing into a heatproof container. Refrigerate, because you've just made a pan of bacon for another reason entirely, and that's what you're eating. This is for later.

At salad time, put about four somewhat-packed cups of dry salad greens or spinach in two large serving bowls. Heat the dressing, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, until the bacon grease is entirely melted. Pour it into a small, deep cup or dish. Pour or spoon off whatever bacon grease you don't want. Note: don't scrape out the grease before you heat it. The crunchy bits will get away. Again with the knee-jerk reaction.

Pour the dressing over the greens. They will wilt a little but not become mushy. Toss the salad a little bit to ensure maximum dressing coverage.* Warm the reserved bacon strips a little and crumble them over the salad. Add whatever else sounds good. A diced, slightly underripe pear was marvelous when I used it. Serve immediately.

If you do this at work, other people will rush out to buy salads, any salads, from the nearest cafeteria or grocer. But they will be sadly disappointed; feel free to mock them.

*People who dump dressing on top of a salad and just eat it that way are the same people who think salads are bland. Coincidence? I think not.