Country Fried Corn With Bacon Drippings

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell

If America is to follow Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants,” bacon drippings may be the key to increasing our plant consumption. Southerners have always known this.

I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to the importance of pork products in the South– country ham, sausage, and bacon. But it’s true. Pork fat has been sustaining the rural poor for generations. Did you ever read Cold Mountain? Remember how dearly the main character Inman treated his dwindling supply of lard? The lard added much-needed flavor and energy to his bland, sparse diet.

Our friend Lynne Tolley, the great-grandniece of Jack Daniel and her mother Miss Margaret of  Lynchburg, Tenn., are terrific vegetable cooks thanks to drippings (and their other secret to most everything is a pinch of sugar). R.B. and I worked with them on Cooking with Jack, The New Jack Daniel’s Cookbook a few years back and we came from the project with the utmost respect for Southern vegetables. Southern vegetables are always well-seasoned and that’s what makes them appealing. Vegetables need a little fat and salt. There’s nothing wrong with that when the cook is the consumer and fully aware of what’s in the food. It’s when meals are prepared by a mystery chef or a company profiting from our food consumption do we get into trouble. 

A couple of tablespoons of drippings divided into four to six servings really isn’t much. If vegetables taste great, more folks will eat more of them more often. It’s corn season so get out your iron skillet and fry up some sweet corn with bacon drippings and a pinch of sugar.

Six ears of corn make about eight cups of kernels. Think corn-off-the-cob with a hint of bacon.

Fried corn isn’t really fried. It’s cooked in a skillet with drippings and water. As it cooks, the juices become milky and thick. A pinch of sugar never hurts. Lots of black pepper and salt make it perfect. ”


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