Is there any smell so evocative of breakfast time as bacon frying in the pan? Along with fresh coffee brewing, there’s nothing better to wake up to.
But hold on a minute. What if we changed that to bacon baking in the oven? Are you in shock? In fact, as we’ll see today, you might just have been going about bacon the wrong way! We’ve got a couple of tips from professional chefs on this breakfast classic that is so versatile you can even make desserts with it.
Bacon frying, just as it should be—or not?
Tip 1: Bake, don’t fry!
Everyone knows how to make bacon, right? All you do is open up the package, put the bacon in the frying pan, and fire up the stove.
Wrong, say celebrity chefs Adam Sappington, a challenger on Chopped and co-owner of Portland’s famous Country Cat, and Alton Brown of the Food Network’s hit show Good Eats. For these pros, the hands-down best way to make perfectly crispy bacon that isn’t burned or too greasy is to put it in the oven.
There are several advantages to cooking bacon this way, the first of which is that you don’t end up with bacon that’s raw on some spots and burned on others. As Adam Sappington told foodie site Delish, “the bacon cooks more evenly without the hot spots which can occur in a skillet.”
Another huge advantage is that you don’t end up with burning grease splattering all over the stove top and potentially on your hands. What’s the best way to bake? The Food Network’s mad genius Alton Brown recommends starting with a cold oven.
That’s nice and easy, isn’t it? No pre-heating necessary. Depending on how crispy you like it, you can try 12–15 minutes cook time at 400°F (about 204 if you’re using Celsius). Since it’s in the oven, this means you can do other things, like slowly sip your coffee and stare out the window as you wake up, or if you’re ambitious, whip up an omelette!
As Brown posted on Twitter, “when roasting bacon at 400f try lining the pan with paper towels. They soak up the fat and prevent smoking.” Now that’s a tip that’ll save you time and hassle.
Tip 2: Be careful what you buy
While you might think that bacon is just bacon, celebrity chefs would beg to differ. Although it can be confusing to make your way through all the different types and brands at the grocery store, there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Chef Adam Sappington advises home cooks to steer away from such dubious additives as “liquid smoke” and added sweeteners like corn syrup. He thinks that good bacon should be simple and natural. If you find these extra ingredients, it’s likely that the manufacturer is trying to cover up a weak product.
Everybody loves the smoky flavor of bacon, but it shouldn’t be added in artificially. Check to see if the product is smoked over real wood, usually coming from hardwood trees, like hickory, or fruit trees, like apple or cherry. These will give real flavor!
These days buyers have the added advantage of being able to go online and shop around for bacon clubs, which offer a higher-quality product at competitive prices. This can be a great way to make sure you know where your bacon comes from and how it’s cured.
Still not convinced? Why not get your family together and do some blind taste testing? It could be fun for the kids and good to see what turns out the best!