Green Beans with Hot Bacon Dressing

June 15, 2007

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When I was growing up in Iowa farm country, every good cook kept a tin can of bacon grease on the back of the stove. Each morning, she—most farm cooks were women, then—poured the extra grease from the breakfast bacon into the can. For us, bacon grease was like olive oil in Tuscany or Normandy butter. Vegetables, meat, fish, potatoes, rice, even biscuits all got a generous slathering of warm, greasy comfort—and were they good! These green beans double as a side dish and a hot, tangy salad. Yummmm … even the smell takes me back. SAM

1 pound small green beans, snapped with ends and strings removed
4 slices bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, minced (1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar, optional
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam the green beans until just tender, about 7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings, lower the heat to medium, and sauté the garlic and onion until translucent, not brown. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper. Bring just to a boil and pour over the green beans. Sprinkle with bacon, toss, and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.