A few days ago, I decided I had a goal in life:
To fry enough bacon and collect the grease until I can fill a deep-fryer with it, and then make french fries. Bacon fries.
I kicked around some back-of-the-napkin calculations, and it’ll probably take about 8-10 packages of bacon to get enough grease to fill the small Euro-Pro F1063 5-Liter Stainless Steel Deep Fryer. Ideally I’d make it all at once and not give the grease time to congeal, but even if it did, it melts easily under low heat. I could make bacon casually and pour the grease into a old glass jar until I had enough to fill the deep fryer, and then fill the fryer with that. I am aware that this has the possibility of fire and death.
I could probably just buy a bag of frozen crinkle-cut Oreida french fries at the grocery and toss those in, but I may want to experiment with some home-cut fries and various herb and spice mixes. I don’t know if the bacon flavor would overpower the fries and any spices, or if it’d just be a pleasant aftertaste of bacon. Perhaps I could thin out the bacon grease with some vegetable oil, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that mixing oils in a deep fryer is a bad idea, as they separate and heat unevenly, possibly leading to fire and death.
It’d be extremely unhealthy, obviously. I wouldn’t dream of eating too much of these in one sitting, and I’d likely even prep myself for the week before by eating salads, and the same for the week after, in order to thin out the blood, so to speak. Of course, there’d be a good deal of cardiovascular exercise to minimize the effects of this, and to keep me in shape enough to minimize the possibility of fire and death.
This idea may have legs, too. The Minnesota State Fair runs from August 25th to Labor Day, and it’s widely known for deep-fried food on a stick. (Listen to Bonny Wolf’s NPR report entitled The Minnesota State Fair on a Stick). Maybe, just maybe, this idea could turn a buck or two. I could take a week off of work in late August, work 12-hour days at the state fair frying potatoes in bacon grease, and come back to work in September with piles of money – that is, of course, as long as there’s no fire and death.
Selling bacon fries at the state fair. It’s really got potential, I think. I wouldn’t be able to use the dinky deep-fryer I have at home; I’d need something for commercial use. A little bit of searching has led me to FRYER, Electric, Twin 15 lb Oil Capacity Pots, #F-67 from Wells, only $1239.00 each with free shipping. I don’t know if that’s the right one for the job, though; I’d have to talk to a few other vendors at the state fair and see what equipment they use, and whether they buy or rent. Startup costs here could be worse than I’d expect, so I should probably budget, say, two or three times that amount for just equipment, let alone supplies and insurance against the possilibity of fire and death.
Continuing down this path, the state fair helpfully has linked their concession stand application form and brochure with rate information. I see two potential hurdles here: one, the application form asks for three previous fairs where I’ve worked, and two, the rate information calls for 12.5% of my gross sales as a commission. The first one could be bypassed by pleading that everyone’s got to start somewhere, and that bacon fries are a rarity in the world of state fairs, while the second … well, I doubt a new entrepreneur could negotiate a better rate with the state fair, given that they turn away more concessionaires than then allow in, likely due to the higher risk of fire and death.
But if I’m going to do this at the fair, why limit myself to just bacon fries? And also, what would I do with the bacon? It’d be a waste to throw it out, when I could certainly recoup some of the expense by selling strips of bacon (3 per ticket!) or possibly even BLTs. That’d be a somewhat healthy alternative to everything being deep-fried at the fair … unless I deep-fried a BLT on a stick. That’s a possibility for later, but not right now. However, poutine would be a perfect idea here. Bacon fries, covered in cheese curds, covered in gravy! And even for the people who just want deep-fried cheese curds, I could get a jump on the competition by selling bacon-fried cheese curds! On a stick! I’d, of course, have to advertise that there’s no risk of fire and death from eating these.
The downside, of course, would be health issues and possible negative publicity. I can see it now – lines stretching around the block, me in the booth hastily filling orders and colleting money, and local newspapers writing scathing editorials about the health problems of the nation and the predatory practices of purveyors like me who prey on the people who purchase my product. Fingers shaking, vague statements about how Something Must Be Done, threats to get the health department down … unless I circumvent it all by openly declaring (possibly in a slightly smaller font on the banner underneath “BACON FRIES”) that a portion of all proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association. That’d throw those columnists into a tizzy. Yeah, the food’s unhealthy, but it’s for a good cause! And people are buying it out of their own free will, and there’s no deception here – for god’s sake, it’s called bacon fries. Any negative influence wielded by the papers would be neutralized, even though they’d resort to writing about the possibility of fire and death.
So. I might have the next great idea here. Next summer, I may be spending a week working a booth at the state fair selling bacon fries and assorted related products, all the while living mere moments from the risk of fire and death.
But first, I gotta buy about ten pounds of bacon and see if this tastes any good.