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How to cook strips of bacon

June 24, 2010

My dad has told me many times that when he used to run a restaurant he would ask potential new hires if they had ever burned a pan of bacon. If they said no he knew they were either lying or inexperienced. Anyone who has ever cooked bacon has probably also burned bacon. To help you avoid burning at home, here are the two best ways to cook strips of bacon.

The number one best way to cook bacon thoroughly and evenly is on a baking sheet in the oven at about 375 degrees. Because heat comes from all around in the oven, all the bacon will heat at the same speed and temperature and will not need to be turned over. When making bacon this way I put a layer of foil along the bottom of a cookie sheet and set the bacon on the foil. It catches all the bacon fat and makes for an easy clean up. Just preheat your oven, line the bacon all up in a row and set it in the oven. The bacon can be crowded, but should not overlap. It will take 5-10 minutes to cook depending on how thick cut the bacon is. When it is ready will depend on whether you like your bacon a little soft, or really crispy. When they seem ready, use a fork or a pair of tongs to set the cooked strips out on a paper towel to soak up the extra fat. When the fat in the foil sheet cools you can just roll it up and throw it away, or if you are adventurous, you can save the bacon fat and use it in place of vegetable oil for sautéing and frying.

If you are making a small amount of bacon, or don’t want to turn your oven on (it’s so damn hot in the summer) then you can cook it in a pan. It’s easier to burn bacon in a pan because all the heat comes from one source (the burner) instead of all around like the oven. To avoid burning on the stovetop bacon should be cooked at a fairly low temperature. That will give it time to render and crisp up before getting too hot. As with the oven, feel free to crowd the bacon in the pan, but try not to let it overlap. It will shrink up as it cooks. Also, because it is hotter on the bottom, bacon cooked in the pan will need to be turned as it cooks. I recommend starting at a medium heat and reducing the temperature if it seems too hot. The lower the temperature the more evenly the bacon will cook, but it will also slow down how quickly it cooks. Adjust according to your stove and your own patience. Again, timing will depend on thickness of your bacon and how crispy you like it. Don’t worry if it burns a little, everyone has done it.

*ALWAYS BE CAREFUL NOT TO SPILL THE HOT GREASE ON YOUR SKIN! HOT BACON GREASE ONCE SENT MY BROTHER TO THE HOSPITAL. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR KIDS AND DON’T COOK BACON WHEN YOUR ARE DRUNK.

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