Vegetarians beware….I am talking bacon today. Nothing but bacon. I promise I will do a post about nothing but veggies SOON! Pinkie swear! But today I’m all about bacon. Because my 17 year old son Kell has celiac disease, we tend to eat a lot of protein around here. One of our favorite “dinners” is BREAKFAST….and breakfast to us always means BACON.
Over the years I’ve tried out a couple of different ways to cook bacon. Obviously pan-frying is one of them, but I get so tired of the grease splatter mess (not to mention the painful grease splatters on your hands!) Even with a splatter guard, grease seems to get everywhere! Then I saw Ina Garten from the Food Network cook bacon in the oven and I was SOLD! No more grease splatters! Unfortunately, my family was NOT sold, because it takes a LOT longer and they are an impatient bunch when they are hungry!
So when I saw another Food Network celebrity, Alton Brown, making bacon in a waffle maker I was intrigued! Could this be the best of both worlds?? No splatter? Fast cooking? I decided to give it a try because I was really craving a good BLT Sandwich!
Cut the strips of bacon in half, and put two 1/2 strips on each square of your waffle iron. Close the waffle maker and let cook for 3 to 4 minutes then check on their doneness.
This is what they looked like about halfway through. If they aren’t done, close the waffle maker and check again in another 2 to 3 minutes.
When the bacon is the color your like it, drain it on a towel.
The thing I really liked about cooking the bacon this way was how the grease drained right down into the waffle iron nooks and crannies and the bacon was pressed nice and flat so it all cooked very evenly. Oh yeah…and no grease splatters!
Personally I think this is the perfect way to cook bacon! I mean look at that sandwich…only perfectly cooked bacon could make a sandwich that good lookin’! :-)
My son’s sandwich.
If you’re still unconvinced, or you just don’t like the idea of waffle-pressed bacon…here are some more ways I found people cooking their bacon:
In The Oven – Method #1
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a jelly roll sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Evenly space 6 slices of bacon in it.
- Place an upside-down cooling rack over the bacon to keep them flat (as long as the cooling rack is slightly smaller than the sheet pan).
- Roast for 6 minutes, turn pan 180 degrees, roast for another 6 minutes. The result: flat, and evenly cooked bacon!
In The Oven – Method #2
- Same as above but put the bacon on TOP of the cooling rack, rather than under it. The fat will drip off, making your bacon super-crispy and lean.
In The Oven – Method #3
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with crinkled aluminum, lay the strips of bacon over that and cook for about 15-20 minutes. This makes clean up easy, and by crinkling the foil you allow the grease to pool away from the bacon.
In The Oven – Method #4
- Put bacon in a cold oven. Once it gets to 350 degrees, turn the bacon over. Set the timer for 4 minutes exactly and once it beeps it’s done.
In The Microwave
- Flip a bowl upside down on a plate. Lay the bacon over the bowl. Cook for approximately 1 minute per piece of bacon. The plate catches the grease that drips down the bowl. Since the grease runs away from the bacon, it results in crispy, slightly “drier” bacon.
On The BBQ Grill
- If you are making bacon burgers…cook your bacon right on the cooler part of the grill for about 5-7 minutes.
In The Smoker
- Smoke bacon slowly (30 minutes plus) over hickory in a smoker or grill using rib racks to drape the bacon strips over.
In The Deep Fryer
- One of the ways the pros do it….use a deep fryer. You can cook 5 or 6 strips of bacon in about 5 minutes without a big mess. Great if you like curly, chewy bacon.
In Bacon Fat
- Every time you cook bacon, save the fat in a plastic container in the freezer. When you want to cook bacon, take the fat out of the container and melt in a cast iron frying pan over medium heat.
- Once the fat is liquid, add your bacon strips. Cook to desired degree of crispness.
- Blot with paper towels and eat! Once the bacon grease has cooled slightly, pour it back into its container, and freeze for next time. The bacon fat does not add any more grease to the finished bacon, but does add flavor, especially after several uses.
In A Cast Iron Skillet, In The Oven
- Put about 10 pieces of bacon in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and place it into a cold oven set to 425 degrees.
- Once the oven is hot, it will take about 7 minutes to cook. No need to flip, just cook to desired doneness and remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Total time from fridge to eating, about 25 minutes.
In A George Foreman Grill (or Panini Press)
- A slight variation on the waffle maker. Use a George Foreman grill. No splattering, perfectly cooked on both sides and all the grease drains aways.
In A Wok
- Same rules for pan frying apply. Put your bacon (12-18) slices in a cold pan set to medium heat.
- Arrange the bacon strips in a circular pattern around the pan.
- As the bacon at the bottom of the pan finish cooking, move them to the sides to drain and replace them with the strips arranged on the sides.
- Place the bacon on a wire rack over paper towels to drain and straighten the strips to get the nice even shape you want. (NEVER place directly on the paper towels)
And as if that weren’t enough information about BACON….just a little more. Here are some additional tips and tricks to get you to your bacon “happy place”:
- To keep the bacon flat in the pan, run it under cold water first.
- Par-cook a large batch of bacon when you have some extra time. Once the bacon has cooled, toss it in the freezer inside a plastic container. Then when you have a hankering for bacon but are short on time, a perfectly cooked strip of bacon is only 20 – 30 seconds away in the microwave. Finishing the last bit of cooking in a toaster oven on some foil works well too.
- Add some fresh ground black pepper to your bacon while it’s cooking.
- And last but not least……..DON’T THROW AWAY THE BACON FAT!
Some things to use your bacon fat for:
1) Seasoning your cast iron skillet
2) Making cornbread
3) Making collard greens
4) Any recipe that calls for butter or oil to grease a pan
5) Seasoning your grill
There you go…..more than you ever wanted to know about cooking the perfect piece of bacon!
You can thank me by inviting me over for breakfast! :-)