Try This! Late Winter Vegetables Roasted in Bacon Fat

This is a hurry-before-it's-too-late kind of a recipe. Spring is almost here and soon we will be turning from the delicious, deeply favored roots of winter to the equally delicious but decidedly more delicate shoots of spring. So if ever there was time to throw in a little bacon fat on it, it would be right now.

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By now you know to always save your bacon fat, right? Right? Well, here's a simple way to use just a dab of that pure gold to turn something already wonderful (like roasted vegetables) into something sublime. The great thing about bacon fat is that you don't need a lot to bring that special smoky flavor to your dish.

I recently chopped up one each of leek, turnip, rutabaga, cauliflower (small) and, because 'late winter' also means 'early spring,' about 8 asparagus spears. I threw the leeks and asparagus together as quicker-cooking vegetables on one small tray and the cauliflower/rutabaga/turnips as longer-cooking vegetables on another. I sprinkled on some salt and dabbed bacon fat over the top here and there (about one tablespoon total) and put them into a preheated 375° oven. The bacon fat was fairly solid from being in the refrigerator, so after five minutes I took out the trays and gave the veg a toss in the now melted fat in order to distribute it evenly. I then proceeded to roast until everything was tender and starting to brown up, with an occasional shake of the pan here and there.

Once out of the oven, I tossed the veg together and sprinkled them with fresh chopped thyme and black pepper and ate them, along with a nice wedge of cheese and some toasted bread, as a light supper.

While spring produce makes me happy, I'm always sad to see the winter roots go. I love a good root roast and adding just a little bacon fat to the mix was a wonderful send off to these dear old friends of the winter table.

Related: Tip: Save Your Bacon Fat

(Images: Dana Velden)