Fried bacon is a delight and it can be used to add flavor and crunch to a wide, very wide variety of dishes. The texture and rich taste are the best things those thin strips of fat have going for them. But how to cook perfect bacon? It’s not that hard if you have the right technique!
Anyone who knows me even a little bit is aware of the fact that I am sort of in love with bacon. I could have it every day for the rest of my life and I probably would not feel bored even a little bit. Even though after a while my hips could probably not fit anymore through the front door. But I would be okay with that, I think.
This week I had some rice with bacon at the cafeteria where I work and the rice was bland and almost inedible. But the fried bacon… well, that kind of saves every meal. I love having bacon with sunny side up eggs and even cooking in the bacon grease left in the skillet after frying the bacon. Everything seems to be tastier (but of course, fatter), after cooked in bacon grease.
I used to cook bacon in the oven, putting the strips on a tray lined with aluminum foil. They cooked really nice, but for me, that wasn’t perfect bacon. The stovetop version of this process is my favorite. It works best with very thin strips of bacon, so choose accordingly from the store.
How to cook perfect bacon in 9 steps
1. Add the bacon to a cold pan
I like to use a cast iron skillet or even the wok. Either way, the dish in which you cook should be non-stick. Put the pan on the stovetop and lay the strips inside before turning on the heat. Why the cold pan? Because the bacon will turn out crispier and less greasy.
A good tip is to actually place the strips so they are touching each other. You can crowd the pan a little this time because bacon shrivels up a little when it’s cooked. But don’t have too much overlap either.
So the strips will have plenty of room to cook properly, and also you will save time, by making more bacon in less time.
2. Heat it up
Turn on the heat, but keep it at a low temperature. You don’t need to scorch your delicious strips of bacon. They should warm gradually and leave some of their grease on the bottom of the pan. The bacon will start to release some of its fat.
3. Straighten out
When the bacon starts to curl, use your tongs to straighten the strips out and make room for them.
Once they’re a bit crunchy on the bottom, flip the strips of bacon with your tongs. You usually have to do this multiple times, so that they brown evenly.
5. Remove the grease
This step depends on the type of bacon you’re using. I usually use one that doesn’t leave too much grease on the pan. But if your bacon is very fatty and your pan is filling up, then you should remove some or most of it carefully. You can use a baster to suction it off. Or a metal spoon to remove the excess. But please, be careful with the hot grease! You don’t want a kitchen grease fire under any circumstances. So make sure that the grease doesn’t end up on the outside of your pan.
6. Don’t throw out the grease
Bacon grease is magic and can be used in a lot of your kitchen endeavors! So for the love of Pete, don’t throw it away. Let it cool off a little and save it in a jar.
7. Cook the bacon until done
That begs the question: when is it done? The answer is different for everybody. I like to turn my bacon multiple times so that I get the highest crisp factor before actually burning it. For other, less obsessive people, less crisp is more. So experiment with multiple bacon strips and see how the process goes and which one you like the most.
But there are some basics to bacon done-ness. Like it has to be evenly browned. And the meat should not be raw in any part.
8. Remove the bacon
Bacon continues to cook even after it is removed from the skillet. You can thank the hot grease for that. So remove it maybe a little earlier than you’re tempted to.
9. Drain the bacon
It will be too fatty to put on a plate. So prepare some paper towels on a plate on your counter to absorb the excess fat from the strips.