Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cooking Bacon: You're doing it wrong.

©2011 John Houser III

I never even thought about writing a how-to-cook bacon post but after talking with a few people at the farmer's market on Sunday I realized that I had an obligation to fulfill. While waiting to pay at the Truck Patch Farms stand, I got to talking with the guy in front of me about how delicious their bacon was. The guy mentioned that he loves bacon but it is always such a mess to deal with while cooking. Fat spitting everywhere, bacon curling up and his general lack of attentiveness were his main problems with his favorite cured meat product.

So me, being the well natured, unbelievably helpful and handsome person that I am asked him if he had ever baked his bacon before. He looked at me like I had thirty seven penises attached to my....... well, penis.

I explained to him that in restaurants they pretty much all back their bacon on baking sheets with racks in them. I started doing this when I worked as a prep cook at The Candlelight Inn in 1993. It is a trick that has always stayed with me. You can cook a lot of bacon at one time quickly, evenly, and cleanly. You just put it in the oven, set a timer and walk away. If you were feeling a little devil-may-care you could do it naked if you wanted (and I have).

By this point I had a few people listening in on the conversation and asking me questions. It was then that I realized that I should probably post about this since it seems as if a fair amount of people probably don't know about this simple way to cook the king of American breakfast meats.

This is a fairly straight forward step-by-step, but I still will treat it as if it were a recipe.

Let's get started shall we?

Baking Sheet Bacon (aka restaurant bacon, baked bacon, naked bacon)

©2011 John Houser III
1 pound of bacon, sliced
1 sheet pan with wire rack insert
no clothes - optional

1. Set oven to 375°F

©2011 John Houser III

2. Place as much bacon on the sheet as you can (usually 1 sheet can hold 1/2 pound easily). You can add as much as you want but be advised that like Biggie Smalls once said "Mo bacon, Mo bacon grease". I'm pretty sure that's how the song went....

©2011 John Houser III

3. Place the bacon in the oven, set a timer for 20 minutes.

©2011 John Houser III

4. After 20 minutes, check your bacon for your desired crispness*.

©2011 John Houser III

5. Take out of the oven. CAUTION!!! There is hot bacon grease in the pan. Keep the pan parallel to the floor at all times otherwise skin bubbling oil will splatter out. Seriously, be careful. Once the sheet pan is out and set upon a trivet, immediately loosen the bacon with a spatula. Be sure to do this step. Bacon has a tendency to stick to the rack once it cools down.

©2011 John Houser III

You now have bacon to do with what you want. Don't tell me, I don't want to know.

©2011 John Houser III


*Bacon crispness is a matter that people will come to blows over. I've seen it, it gets ugly. It's worse than watching drunks argue over religion in a bar.  This is why it's always a good idea to ask the people you are cooking for how they like their bacon. My parents used to get made at each other when the other made bacon. My mother liked her bacon super crispy and my father liked his bacon soft and chewy. Having both of them cook me bacon those different ways made me appreciate the range of textures that bacon can give. Try it yourself. If you like soft, go crisp and vice versa. It's a different experience each way. What's the worse that will happen? You'll eat more bacon? A terrible price to pay indeed.

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