Reading it brought back fond memories of my youth when my mom would make this stuff in truckloads. She would then store the Chex Mix in large tupperware bowls and used Schwan’s ice cream buckets, and we would snack on it for months.
Now that you can buy pre-made Chex Mix at grocery and convenience stores, a whole generation of youth has absolutely no idea how much better homemade Chex Mix is than the store bought stuff. There really is no comparison. I admit I’ve been guilty of buying the pre-made stuff on occasion, and I almost always regret it because I know how much better homemade Chex Mix tastes.
So I got to thinking…I wonder how Chex Mix would taste if you made it with bacon grease instead of butter. I was also intrigued by The Pioneer Woman’s suggestion of including fresh garlic, so for my experiment I decided to use her recipe.
Visit The Pioneer Woman Cooks for the full recipe, but to summarize the ingredients, I used equal parts Corn Chex, Wheat Chex, and Rice Chex; pretzel sticks; mixed nuts; 1/4 cup bacon grease; 1 crushed garlic clove (I like garlic, but not quite as much as Ree); Worcestershire Sauce; Tabasco sauce; Lawry’s Seasoned Salt; and Onion Powder. The bacon grease I used for the Chex Mix was from the maple bacon I fried for my Bacon Pumpkin Pie a couple days ago.
The bacon grease had a maple scent because of the bacon I used to obtain it, so I was curious to find out whether or not that flavor would carry over into the Chex Mix. Also, I ended up adding 2 tbsp of butter because I was concerned that 1/4 cup bacon grease wouldn’t be enough, and I didn’t want to fry up more bacon just to get more grease. By the way, to get 1/4 cup bacon grease, I had to cook about 12 slices of bacon.
And yes, I just wrote the words “I was concerned that 1/4 cup bacon grease wouldn’t be enough.” The things I think, say, and do all because of this blog still shock me sometimes…
Anyways, per the recipe, I mixed all of the liquids and seasonings together in one bowl, and in another larger bowl I mixed all of the Chex, pretzels, and nuts together. I then slowly poured the liquid mixture over the Chex mixture, stirring about half a dozen times throughout the process to distribute the liquid over as much of the Chex mixture as possible.
I then poured the Chex Mix onto two baking sheets and convection baked it at 250 degrees for about 1 hour. I stirred the mixture a couple times throughout the baking process just to make sure it was baking evenly.
The maple from the bacon grease did not come through in the flavor of the Chex Mix after it was done baking. And while the result was just as delicious as homemade Chex Mix always is, I have to report that the bacon grease really didn’t make much of a difference in the flavor compared to how Chex Mix tastes when made with butter. But one thing that was noticeable was the addition of fresh garlic – you could definitely smell (and taste) the garlic. And I only used one clove – The Pioneer Woman uses several, so there must be some really good breath around the ranch when she makes Chex Mix!
I took a small bag of my Chex Mix on a four hour cross-country flight, which I’m sure my seatmate enjoyed thanks to the garlicky smell. But it sure made the flight more enjoyable for me – and the Chex Mix was a hell of a lot better than the nuts US Air usually has to offer.