Sunday, April 25, 2010

MMMMMM, Bacon!

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The bacon cooking poll has closed with the pan and oven methods coming in neck and neck. I Bing searched ‘best way to cook bacon’ and this seems to be a common theme. Pepper in a few fans of the microwave and we are only left with wacky gadgets and grandma’s tips on how to cook up the best piece of bacon possible.

I can understand why the microwave method has its fans. With a cooking time of one minute per slice, there is no dispute this is the fastest way. I just don’t like cooking things in the microwave. Surely it’s my favorite way to heat something up, just not a tool to cook with in my opinion. I’ve had bacon cooked in the microwave, and the end product is more like warm pork jerky than a nice greasy crisp piece of bacon.

The pan method did get one more vote than the oven so it is the winner. I like bacon cooked in a pan, but it’s messy, and takes a lot of attention. I don’t have a pan big enough to cook more than 4-5 slices of bacon at a time, which is a great reason to cook bacon in the oven. The oven method is the cleanest of them all, especially if the bacon is set on a wire rack over a baking sheet, which also offers the benefit of more even cooking. All it takes is setting a timer so you don’t forget your bacon. I think the oven method is the most efficient, clean and easy way to cook up the best piece of bacon possible.

In the restaurant we always cook large batches of strip bacon in the oven. On the other hand for diced bacon we use a pot, and add bacon fat we saved from the last batch. This makes for evenly cooked bacon that doesn’t take a lot of attention to not burn. This method is a lot like deep-frying bacon, just in a pot of bacon fat instead of a fry-o-later filled with canola oil. And if you do have a fryer, and most restaurant kitchens do, as a bored cook you will eventually try to deep fry just about anything. Bacon is no exception to this rule. While I have assumed this discussion to be about strip bacon up until now, I will say that frying large pieces of bacon (or pork belly) in a fryer is a preferred method. As for the thick cut, beer battered, and deep fried bacon…..I tried it, and hot damn it was good!

When just cooking up a simple strip of bacon becomes boring don’t quit. It has come to light that bacon plays well with other ingredients like brown sugar, maple syrup, black pepper and chocolate per suggestions of other. I say, “Why stop there?” I’m ready to try a whole mess of other combinations. How about curry powder, apple butter, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, coco powder, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, you begin to see the possibilities.

Enjoy your bacon!


Live to Cook at Home said...

I've never done bacon in the oven, thanks for the tip. I would have been another vote in the pan category but I view your blog in Google Reader so I never know there's a poll unless you mention it in a post. What temperature do you recommend?

Michael Walsh said...

Thanks for the feedback. I suggest starting the bacon out around 350-375. If you put them on a rack there is no need to turn them, but if you set them right on the baking pan it's best to turn them about 3/4 of the way through.