Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making bacon

Oven-cooked (top) and pan-cooked bacon.
Photos by Lori Korleski Richardson

When it's time to cook a pound or two of bacon for a crowd, oven preparation is the best, hands down. Not only can you cook the quantity that you desire, clean up is easier and you don't have to turn the strips if you put them on a rack set in your pan.

But if you're doing 8 slices or less, a large cast iron skillet on the stove should be your choice. Not only will you shave the preparation time by almost half, you will have some choice bits left in the pan when you cook your eggs.
Here are my notes from a comparison of the cooking methods. I used one pound of Smithfield natural hickory smoked bacon, thick sliced. (Although the nutrition facts on the back said there were 11 one-slice servings in the package, there were actually 14. That would take the calorie count down from 60 calories to 41.25 calories.)
  • Seven strips of bacon in a 12" cast iron skillet over low heat took 12 minutes to cook crisply. In order to brown them evenly, I had to cut them in the middle and cook the ends facing the center, and I had to turn them several times.
  • Seven strips of bacon on a rack over a jellyroll pan in a 350-degree oven took 20 minutes to cook to a nice brown color, but they were not as crisp. Perhaps cooking them at 375 degrees would produce a crisper strip.
Frankly, the mouthfeel of the pan-fried bacon was more satisfying, but the bacon flavor was more concentrated in the oven-fried version.

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