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Bacon

Mmmm… Tasty Tasty Bacon. Why do we love bacon so much? Because it’s bacon.

The stuff is definitely not good for you. I’ve been told that if you listen carefully you can actually hear your arteries clogging up after eating a few strips — though I’ve never tried; I was too busy going back for seconds.

The most challenging part of cooking bacon is dealing with all the bacon fat. Bacon is a very fatty cut of meat, and as it heats up that fat melts or (“renders”); if you don’t plan for where it goes, however, you can either end up with very greasy bacon, or a big pool of hot fat somewhere inconvenient.

You also have to figure out how to get rid of the bacon fat after you’re done cooking. DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE SINK. EVER. It will solidify when it cools and create a very effective blockage in your drainpipes and the connected sewer system that will be expensive to unclog later. Some people like to save and store bacon fat to use in future cooking, as it can replace butter or other oils and give a nice tangy salty flavor to foods. Most of us, however, just want to get rid of it. Here are some options:

  • If it’s a small amount, mop it up into a paper towel (when it’s warm enough to still be liquid, but not too hot to touch) and throw it into the garbage.
  • Pour it into a used container, like a tomato can or a heat-proof jar. Once it’s solidified, throw it away.

Cooking bacon

Bacon can be cooked a variety of ways: grill, saute, bake, broil, microwave. I’ve never hear of anyone trying to boil it, but I’m sure someone has (it seems like a senseless waste of bacon if you ask me).

Sauteed bacon, in a skillet, is the classic method. This applies the most heat, so be careful you don’t burn the bacon. It also spatters everywhere.

Baked bacon applies a steadier, lower temperature than a stovetop. The bacon won’t shrink or curl much, so it comes out looking nicer. It also doesn’t spatter much, so less cleanup.

Microwaving bacon is the fastest, and probably the easiest method, and delivers consistently good results. You can use a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels, but if you’re going to be doing this a lot I recommend buying one of the many forms of trays specifically designed for cooking bacon in a microwave oven: they have slats that hold the bacon strips up and allow fat to drip off into channels below. Just remember to cover the bacon, because it will spatter a lot!

Sauteed bacon:

  • Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the uncooked bacon.
  • Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until brown.
  • Continue to flip every 30 seconds until bacon reaches desired level of crispiness.
  • When cooked, move the bacon to a plate or serving tray lined with a double-layer of paper towels. Use another towel to dab fat off the tops of the bacon strips.

Baked bacon:

  • Line a quarter-sheet or half-sheet pan with aluminum foil, making sure to go up the rims. We want the pan and foil to catch the melted bacon fat.
  • Place the strips of bacon on the pan. If you have a cooling rack that fits inside a sheet pan, use it and place the bacon strips on the rack; it allows the melting bacon fat to drip away, leaving less greasy bacon.
  • Place the pan in a cold (not pre-heated) oven. Set oven temperature for 400 degrees F. By not pre-heating the oven, we’re more gradually heating the bacon, which gives the fat a chance to melt off before the bacon is fully cooked. Alternatively, you can cook it in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes.
  • Bake until desired level of crispiness, about 15-20 minutes. The exact time will depend on how quickly your oven heats up. Start watching carefully after about 15 minutes.
  • Remove bacon from the oven and move it to a plate or serving tray lines with a double-layer of paper towels. Dab the top of the bacon with a paper towel to remove any excess fat.
  • You can get rid of the bacon fat in the pan simply by waiting for the fat to solidify as it cools, then crumpling up the aluminum foil and throwing it away.

Microwave bacon:

  • Place bacon strips on a plate lined with a double-layer of paper towels, or on a microwaving tray. Cover with a paper towel (or with the lid from the microwaving tray, if it came with one).
  • Cook bacon for two minutes on high power. Rotate the plate or tray (if your microwave doesn’t have an auto-rotating platform) and then cook for another minute. Continue cooking for a minute at a time, checking in between, until bacon reaches the desired level of crispiness.
  • Remove from the microwave oven and move bacon to a fresh plate lines with clean paper towels. Dab the top of the bacon to remove any remaining fat.

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