How to Cook Perfect Bacon!

baconresizeda.jpg
ProfessorSalt.com
Oven-baked = perfect bacon
A few days ago, we told you about the Bacon Challenge, a contest to show off creative bacon cooking skills. Today, let's talk about cooking fundamentals and show you the best way to cook loads of bacon.

The target? Perfectly crisp, beautifully de-fatted, flat strips of bacon like you'd get in a restaurant rather than wrinkled, fatty-in-places-burned-in-others bacon so commonly made in home kitchens. Read on for the lowdown to pull this off in mass quantities.

The secret to professional results? Bake bacon in the oven, not a fry pan. A fry pan can hold only a few slices at a time. An oven can bake many pounds at once, and with greater evenness.

Lay your bacon on a rimmed sheet pan without overlapping the slices. The typical jelly roll pan (a.k.a. half sheet pan) will hold a pound of bacon slices, depending on how thickly they're sliced.

Set the sheet pan on the top rack of a cold oven. Set the oven at 425F degrees and allow them to bake for 10 minutes. Remove the slices, flip each slice over once, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or your desired level of crispness.

Another reason not use a fry pan or a griddle? The hot air of the oven heats the bacon more evenly than the a sizzling fry pan and helps to minimize shrinkage and curling. Once curled, bacon won't cook evenly in a skillet, leaving browned spots as well as undercooked fatty spots.

Why start in a cold oven? The bacon will have a chance to render out much of its fat and moisture in the gentle rising heat. Once the oven reaches temperature, the slices will brown perfectly.

baconslab
ProfessorSalt.com
Dry-cured slab bacon
Speaking of moisture in the bacon -- most bacon is cured by injecting it with a brine, which adds a large amount of water to an already-flabby cut of pork belly. The original point of curing bacon was to preserve pork bellies by salting it and removing moisture. It's not as easy to find, but dry-cured bacon is made the old-fashioned way -- by coating the raw pork bellies in sugar, salt and curing salts and allowing them to draw out moisture before smoking it.

Lest you think I'm advocating the most expensive, hand-made bacon as best -- sometimes, the cheapest, thinnest, off-brand discount bacon is what you want. When?  When you're wrapping bacon around something that cooks quickly. Think  bacon-wrapped dates or jalapenos, or the grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus at Japanese izakayas like Honda-Ya or Shin Sen Gumi. Thin bacon crisps up faster than thick bacon and in this context, serves as much for its crispy-meaty texture as its flavor.

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22 comments
Andrea Fuentes
Andrea Fuentes

I tried it this morning and it worked out great!  I didn't all shrink up at all.  I do think more of the fat stayed in the bacon though delicious and crispy, rather than pan frying it.  Thanks!

Annie Nguyen-Habermann
Annie Nguyen-Habermann

Not low-fat diet food at all! I just don't like slimy bacon... I like it crispy. And my laziness appreciates the rack dripping process.

Annie Nguyen-Habermann
Annie Nguyen-Habermann

I put a cooling rack on top of my baking sheet, then the bacon on the rack. This is just because I don't like the bacon to be swimming in the grease... so it just drips off, nice and easy. If you're super lazy & don't want to flip your bacon (I never do), you can twist your bacon so it cooks evenly... like a twisty slide of bacon goodness.

S. Britchky
S. Britchky

I haven't done bacon this way in a long time, but it stays perfectly flat without a weight??

The nice thing about frying in a large skillet with a bacon press is that the heavy press not only keeps the bacon flat, it also makes the texture a bit more dense, which I like. Next time, I'll try the oven method again -- it's obviously great for crowds -- but at this point I'm from Missouri.

DanGarion
DanGarion

I usually cook it at 400 for 20 minutes either in the 1/2 sheet or sometimes I put them on my cooling rack in the 1/2 sheet, either way they always turn out perfect and I have a bunch of luscious rendered bacon fat to use for cooking!

I'm surprised you didn't even mention saving the bacon fat, that is half the reason to cook it this was.

Buggle B
Buggle B

Can you clarify if you bake for 10 minutes AFTER the temperature reaches 425F? Or do you immediately start the timer as soon as you turn on the oven?

DanGarion
DanGarion

I never flip my bacon in the oven and it turns out perfectly fine, try it sometime, you will save yourself a step. :)

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Jeez, it's bacon. Why you gotta make it all low-fat diet food? On that note, stay tuned for tomorrow's post on fakon.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

One day, I'll convince you the reveal the secrets to your tempura eggs.

DanGarion
DanGarion

Don't worry Dee you have nothing to fear, no matter what we can cook at home your food is still amazing and worth the drive and wait.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Yes, it stays flat without a weight. The photo at top shows the results.

Show you? I thought you were from Illinois : )

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Yes, you can save the fat. I prefer to drain it into a fry pan, and put it over low heat until any remaining water is cooked off. The water is a place where molds and other nasties can take root. Lastly, strain the fat through a fine mesh sieve to filter out the solids and store your luscious fat in the fridge.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Buggle, If I'm not sure what a person is sayng I (too) ask them to clarify, in class, at work, whatever. Let the trolls stew in their own juices when it's time to produce. A good rule of thumb is if you have a question, there's a good chance someone else does too, you're getting your question answered and doing them a favor all in one fell swoop.

Honeyman
Honeyman

I'm guessing you flunked reading comprehension in third grade. Prof mentions to put it in a cold oven and then goes on to explain why.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Dan do you find that the bacon sticks if you bake on the sheet pan? I do. That's why I flip midway, before the bacon starts to brown.

Annie or Dan - if you use a baking rack, do you find the sticking is minimized? I don't use one because it's one more piece of gear I need to wash afterward. I'm lazy like that.

DanGarion
DanGarion

I don't know what type of super oven the Professor owns by I doubt my oven will have reached 425 in 10 minutes (and my oven is fairly new). :)

DanGarion
DanGarion

I honestly don't seem to run into much issues with the bacon sticking,I do use aluminum foil most the time as well, but I'm starting to consider it a waste of money (but it helps keep my sheets cleaner). As for the rack sticking is reduced and you get crunchier bacon if you aren't keeping an eye on it. I like my bacon to have some limpness to it. I've tried cooking with my convection on as well and it usually overcooks it for my tastes. I'm cooking bacon Sunday morning for my yearly eggs florentine, I'll report back my findings.

Buggle B
Buggle B

Clearly, Honeyman has never used an oven, otherwise he would understand why I needed clarification. Like Dan's oven, mine also takes a while to heat, so I was skeptical it would even start cooking by the first 10 minute mark.

Thank you, Dan/Shuji, for your response! I shall try this "new" method next time...

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Ovens vary, so will your mileage. It does take time to do it this way, but the results are the best. About 20 minutes total is what it takes me.

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