Makin’ Bacon

Ah bacon, food of the gods, no? When asked, even vegetarians will admit that the food they miss the most is bacon. I usually cook bacon on lazy weekend mornings due to my method of cooking. My philosophy on a properly cooked rasher of bacon can be summed up in three words-low and slow. There are different methods out there-microwaving (please, just no) cooking in the oven on a cookie sheet, (seems like a lot of unnecessary trouble unless you already have the oven on for homemade biscuits!) and on a griddle or skillet. I prefer the iron skillet for my weapon of choice. Nice heavy thick bottom. If you have thin bottom pots and pans the only thing they are good for is burning food or hitting your significant other over the head with during an argument. Throw them out or give them to someone you don’t like and start over. A good pot or pan is a joy too cook with and well seasoned iron skillets are probably one of the most fought over items at an estate sale. The thickness of the bottom of a pot or pan is important not so you build up forearms like Popeye, but to distribute heat evenly. Too thin of a bottom and you are looking at scorched food at the bottom of the pan you are going to have to throw out.

Now the way I cook bacon is low and slow as stated above. There are generally three types of bacon to choose from: salt cured, sugar cured, and uncured. Uncured, while the healthiest choice since it isn’t cured with nitrates, can be more expensive and a bit harder to find a brand that has a good flavor. You are on your own trying to find an uncured bacon that you like. (edit: The Black Forest bacon available at the meat counter at Whole Foods is worth the indulgence. It’s quite good.)

Sugar cured seems a bit much as not only will there most likely be some salt or salty nitrates in the cure anyway (read your food labels folks), but pork is a naturally sweet meat and so you are essentially buying meat candy (*Homer Simpson voice* Mmm…meat candy). Also since there is sugar involved, this type of bacon tends to burn easier or not cook evenly especially if you don’t use my method.

So that leaves us with salt cured bacon to thank God for statin drugs. Now if you want to take a bunch of trouble you can blanch raw bacon in boiling water for a few minutes to remove some of the salt (and flavor and smokiness), pat thoroughly dry with paper towels and cook normally in the skillet.

Bacon is of course a relatively high fat food, though now days pigs are sold a bit leaner than in the past. I actually prefer a leaner bacon, so if you see some fool at the store rooting through all the bacon packages looking for the leanest bacon, that will be me.

Once you get the bacon home and in the skillet, remember-low and slow. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a full twenty minutes to cook bacon with this method. Using a heavy bottom skillet (I use my trusty iron) set the heat on low and let the skillet warm as you are opening the package. When you put the rashers in the warm skillet you will hear a sizzle, but not a big commotion. Once they are in the skillet, turn the heat up to medium for just a minute until you detect a slight change in the amount of “sizzle”. Quickly turn the heat back down to low and leave it there for the duration of cooking. You will now spend the remainder of the time turning over the rashers. Every minute or so turn the rashers over. After a few minutes of turning, you may at this time notice that the bacon in the middle is cooking faster then the bacon on the edges of the pan. Move the more cooked bacon to the edge of the pan and the less cooked to the center of the pan. You will probably not have to move the bacon around this way more than once, but your goal here is to make all the bacon uniform in doneness. You will also notice there’s not a lot of splattering going on because of the low heat. Natural moisture of the bacon (water) + fat + high heat = splattering grease. Since we can’t do anything about the moisture or fat we change the formula by lowering the heat. You could cook bacon this method in the nude and not worry about making an embarrassing trip to the emergency room. When the bacon starts releasing those little bubbles it’s getting time to plate the bacon on paper towels. You can’t really see it in these photos, but it’s a good idea to cut or slice into the large fatty portions of the bacon at the beginning of cooking for two reasons-to help keep the bacon from curling since the fat and the lean contract at different rates during cooking, and to help render the high fat areas.

I usually place paper towels on both sides of the bacon to remove as much fat as possible and it also makes the bacon crisper. To me bacon is almost as good cold as a snack or to make a quick BLT, I’ll warm the cold bacon in a toaster oven on top of the bread I’m toasting.This little piggy went to my belly.


5 Responses to Makin’ Bacon

  1. Susan says:

    Good grief, that looks yummy. Great idea about cutting into those fatty sides-I hate them curling up.

  2. KarenE says:

    I never knew about the curling, makes sense though.
    Try Pedersons, Apple Smoked!

  3. Cowgirl Chef says:

    I feel like bacon should be its own food group. You may agree.
    Low and slow is the thing, isn’t it? Wonder what your go-to bacon brand is in the states? Do they slice bacon for you at WF or CM? I can’t remember.
    PS Love the blog, Don. You’re a natural. I’m coming over for a bacon sandwich, and then, we’re going out for burgers.

    • The Black Forest bacon at WF will spoil you. Both WF and CM have bacon at the butcher behind the counter. CM has the whole uncut belly for sale which I got once. It was a LOT of bacon. I try different brands, usually buy what looks the leanest.

      We could kill two birds by having bacon on our burgers!

      Thanks for the compliment. Your blog is an inspiration and is a textbook example on how a blog should be done.

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