Butter is my all time favorite food. Sure I use it for all the ordinary things – garlic toasts, batches of cookies – but I use this soft yellow gold for all kinds of other things too. A pad of butter to finish off steak brings it to a whole different level, for example, and starting a gravy with a huge dollop of butter and frying flour into it is a New-Orleans inspired way to make gravy that blows your socks off.
Butter is such a centerpiece to my diet that it’s the only grocery item that I check the price for at every single grocery store. To this day I can tell you that the cheapest price I’ve ever found (in Canada) is at the Safeway in North Vancouver, where it was on sale for $2.50 a pound. I bought 8 pounds that day, and if I thought it would have kept forever I would have bought 100.
My butter obsession got so severe that at one point we were burning through 2 pounds a week, which starts to become a serious expense at Canada’s ordinary 4$ or 5$ per pound prices.
That’s when I started to look into some tasty substitutions for butter in some of the recipes we make daily.
The best substitutions we’ve found so far are lard and bacon grease.
I don’t know what it is about pig fat, but a spoonful of pig fat goes so much further than a spoonful of butter. Roughly twice as far. It’s almost as if the pork fat molecules are packed denser. I find that you only need 1/2 to 1/3 of the amount in pork fat where you would normally use butter.
Bacon grease for many people will be free – assuming 2 things.
1. You already eat bacon, and
2. You’ve been throwing out the grease.
Just by saving our bacon grease in a mason jar in the fridge, we’ve easily halved our butter consumption and have only improved the taste of our food.
I don’t use lard as often as bacon grease, because I like my grease source to have as much taste as possible. But it’s easy to find at just 1$ a pound – so in baking, lard is a significantly better deal.
Obviously you can’t sub pork fat in for everything. A butter and jam sandwich, for example, would not be improved by a transformation to a bacon grease and jam sandwich. Not for me anyway.
I’ll share the single biggest saver of butter in our household. I eat a batch of Gordon Ramsey’s scrambled eggs almost every day. What makes these things so damn tasty is that you start with an enormous dollop of butter.
If you cut or scrimp on the butter in this recipe, it just ain’t the same. But you can substitute the 1/4 cup butter with 1/8 cup bacon grease. Instead of drying out your eggs as would happen if you just cut the butter out, the bacon grease adds much more flavor to the eggs – improving rather than diminishing them.
So if you’re not yet saving bacon grease and stocking your cupboards with lard – and I know that very few people do – start. Especially if you’re a willing butter addict like I am.