Monday, July 10, 2017

Perfectly Cooked Bacon- An easy way to cook it and what to do with the fat

I think everyone but my mother loves bacon. I usually can never make enough at my house before it disappears. Whenever I try to make extra so we can have BLT sandwiches for lunch, there is rarely ever enough to make more than a couple sandwiches. One of the biggest problems with making bacon is HOW you cook it. Most people likely cook it like mom did, in a skillet on the stove.

Let me let you in on a method widely used in the food service industry. If a place were to cook every slice of bacon in a skillet it would take all day to get it done. A busy restaurant will go through several boxes of sliced bacon in a Sunday brunch, so what would be the fastest and cleanest method to cook it? In the oven! In the biz, bacon usually comes sliced and laid out on parchment paper sheets. This makes it very easy to put a sheet of bacon onto a metal sheet pan and put it in the oven to cook. You also can do this at home the same way. Take your bacon and lay a single layer of bacon slices on a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Wax paper will not work here. It will only melt the wax and everything will stick to the pan. In a home setting a half sheet pan (18" x 12") will fit into your oven. A standard sized sheet pan is double the size (18" x 24") and will not fit.

Using this cooking method will help you save time and cleanup. There will be less splattering as the bacon cooks and when it does, it will burn off as the oven is heated, saving on the clean up. You will also have the benefit of a more evenly cooked bacon slice. I do recommend that you take the pan out after 10 minutes and fluff up the slices. This will keep them from sticking to the pan and each other. Cook for about another 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, depending on how crispy you like your bacon.

The only other issue with cooking bacon is what to do with all of the fat, or as they call it in the South, pan drippings? In my house, this is like liquid gold. After the fat has cooled down, but before it starts to solidify, pour it into a clean mason jar. Put this into the refrigerator and whenever you are cooking something like pan seared greens or scrambled (or any pan cooked eggs), just take a spoonful out the jar and use this as your cooking fat. Not only is animal fats healthier for you, they can be cooked at a higher temperature without burning and also add a lot of flavor to your food. When cooking greens, like spinach, swiss chard or kale the ease of having readily available bacon fat saves time when preparing because you do not have to wait for the raw bacon to cook and crisp up and then there is always the issue of a messy, greasy cleanup. If your fat still has bits of bacon in it, don't worry. It will be an extra addition to your final dish having the bits of real bacon in it. By using this fat that some people would other wise throw away, you are saving money from having to buy vegetable oil.

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