Friday, February 11, 2011
Growing up, I learned how to cook bacon. You get your skillet or griddle and lay out your bacon strips, turn the heat up to medium high and either use a bacon press or sit there with your spatula pushing the edges down so it doesn't curl up. Flip it occasionally until it's nice and crispy after being fried in its own grease. Make sure you wear pants.
Pretty simple, huh?
Well, in all my years I had never even thought of BAKING bacon! Evidently this is kind of a big thing now in the world of cooking and it supposedly yields some great results... so I had to try it. I read up on the procees and experimented a little bit, then came up with the following way to get yourself some easy yummy baked bacon in the oven with no flipping. You don't even have to wear pants.
Okay, first off you are going to line a cookie/jelly roll/baking sheet that has sides of some sort with foil, but in a special way. What you're going to do is pinch ridges in the foil before you lay it on the pan. Just little ridges - not mountains. You want to lift the bacon just a bit out of the main grease accumulation, but not leave it high and dry. This also helps to give the baked bacon a little wave - for aesthetic purposes. Don't want to go through all that trouble? Put a baking rack on top of the foil and put the bacon on that.
Lay your bacon down on the foil (or rack), making sure to not let the strips touch. If they touch, they will stick together and not get crispy. The bacon will shrink as it bakes, so leaving a lot of space is not necessary, just don't let them touch. Use a big enough baking sheet and you can fit a whole pound of bacon on it.
There are two schools of baking bacon: preheated and cold. I've tried both and I prefer the cold/cool oven method. It seems as if it just gets the bacon a bit crispier.
Get your sheet ready, turn on the oven, lay out the bacon and then just pop it in the oven while it's still heating up. I've also heard a lot of different oven temperatures for baking bacon, but I find that setting the oven at 400 gives the best results. About 15-20 minutes gives me good crispy bacon using this method, depending on the thickness of the bacon. You'll need to keep an eye on it your first few times to see how long you need to cook it to get your perfect bacon every oven is different and everyone's idea of "pefect bacon" varies.
When your bacon is done, remove it from the oven carefully. While baking bacon is a no-splatter method, be really careful of the collected grease. If you tilt the pan too much the grease might ride up the side of the pan and pop or splatter a bit. Also, the bacon is still cooking in its internal grease as you remove it from the oven so it is still very very hot. Carefully remove it from the rack and set it on a plate lined with paper towels to cool for a few minutes.
NOTE: One of the absolute best things about baking bacon is that you can add things to it before you cook it without having them get washed away in the grease from a skillet. Grind some black pepper onto it before you bake it or roll it around in a bowl of brown sugar first for an interesting flavor change! My favorite so far? Grind some rosemary into almost a powder in a food grinder/mortar & pestle and dredge the bacon in it before putting on the baking sheet. Delicious!
Here is my bacon grease crock. You can buy it on Amazon for under 20 bucks.
Oh! You can also bake a bacon weave to put on top of something else if you don't want to wrap your food in bacon before cooking. Maybe a casserole? A nice baked macaroni & cheese? A pizza? Hmmmm... now I want to experiment!
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