Crispy, salty, and well-loved for its aroma and smoky flavor, bacon is something that has become, well, an obsession. From adding bacon to ice cream and various beverages, it’s a pork product that shows no sign of dwindling in popularity. It’s most well known, though, as a compliment to a hearty (read: eggy) breakfast. But, no matter what you do with it, you’ve gotta cook it, and we’ve got all the necessary info.
Using a skillet to fry up bacon is the classic, old-school method. One of the plus sides is that you end up with lots of delicious bacon grease that you can use to cook other foods (hello, scrambled eggs or veggie stir fry). Also, it’s simple and quick.
In a cold pan (make sure the pan isn’t over heat, so that the fat renders properly and doesn’t make for an overly greasy result), arrange the bacon strips. Cook over low heat, pouring off grease as needed. Once at the desired consistency, remove from pan carefully and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Though less popular among home cooks, restaurant chefs swear by the oven method for creating large batches of crispy, melt-in-your-mouth bacon for hungry brunch crowds. As an added bonus, there’s way less cleanup and effort involved.
Preheat oven to 400° F and place oven rack in the middle of the oven, so the bacon doesn’t broil. Line a baking sheet with foil, making sure that it reaches the entire length and width of the baking sheet. Arrange bacon on the foil—don’t worry if it overlaps a bit—and place in the oven. You can also place bacon on a baking rack over a baking sheet, to make sure it catches all the fat drippings. Cook until desired crisp or chewiness, 10–20 minutes. Then, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or dish to drain, the bacon will crisp up as it cools.
Quick and easy, the microwave blasts bacon to ideal crispiness. The one drawback: you can only make a limited number of strips at once.
On a microwave-safe plate, place two sheets of paper towel and arrange up to 8 slices of bacon on top, being sure not to overlap. Place two more sheets of paper towel on top and microwave on high until desired texture, 4–6 minutes.
Bacon is made from the side of a pig, and is most commonly cured (marinated in a salt-heavy mixture of spices and other seasonings, often including a sweet element like maple syrup or sugar). After a prolonged period of curing, the bacon is removed, and then then smoked (cooked at a very low temperature over wood chips). There are different varieties of curing ingredients and different types of wood in which the bacon is smoked, but applewood is very frequently used.
Known as back bacon in Canada, this product is more reminiscent of ham than it is of bacon. It comes from the loin in the middle of the back and is leaner than traditional bacon. We like it in eggs Benedict.
Turkey bacon is, of course, not “real” bacon. It’s made from cured, smoked, and chopped turkey which is formed into bacon-like pieces. You’ll see it marketed as a lower-fat version of bacon. It’s actually pretty good.
Widely considered the Italian take on bacon, pancetta is cured with salt and spices but is usually not smoked. It’s sold in a round, pink-and-white roll, and is often used to flavor soups and other dishes. It’s commonly found cubed.
Slab bacon is sold in large chunks, instead of being pre-sliced, and is usually more affordable than its pre-sliced friend.
This French ingredient refers to narrow strips of fatty pork that is diced, blanched, and fried. It’s an essential ingredient in the French salad that combines fried eggs, frisée, and crispy lardons on top.
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