I love bacon. I mean I really love it. Good American bacon - the crunchy kind, not that flabby stuff you get in other countries. At the risk of offending entire religions and regions, I think much of the unrest in the world is because too many people don't know the joy of bacon. Almost no one who has tasted bacon would willingly blow themselves up or start shooting at someone else. Bacon is worth living for.
But, it can be a real challenge to cook bacon well. Frying it is a mess. Microwaving has inconsistent results. Plus, neither scales well to the large amounts of bacon needed for a big brunch (or just me on a Sunday morning.) The secret is to bake the bacon in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C or gasmark 7)
- Take a large cookie sheet with a lip and cover it in aluminum foil. I like the wide heavy duty stuff that can cover the tray with a single piece.
- Arrange the bacon on the sheet without overlapping.
- Bake for six minutes.
- Turn the cookie sheet around 180 degrees.
- Bake for another 4-7 minutes depending on your oven and how crispy you like your bacon.
- Lift the bacon out with tongs and set on a plate covered in paper towels. I dab the tops with another paper towel too.
Result: piles of perfectly cooked bacon for your dining pleasure.
Here are the cool bits about this recipe:
- All of the bacon grease is in the pan on top of the foil. Once it cools down you can lift out the foil and throw it all away. No mess. Better still, you can spoon out the fat to scramble eggs in (because what goes better with hot bacon than eggs scrambled in bacon fat?) Beet greens or spinach stir fried in bacon fat with crumbled bacon on top is delicious too.
- The turning around part is the magic move. Most ovens don't heat evenly. By turning the tray around, you ensure all the bacon cooks evenly. It's really amazing to me how evident the heat variation is when you see the bacon.
- If you want more bacon (and who doesn't), stick more cookie sheets in the oven at the same time. You can do tons at once this way with no additional time and minimal additional effort.
I've read a variation of this recipe that recommends putting a wire rack in the cookie sheet to keep the bacon out of the fat. I tried it. The results aren't any better, the bacon sticks to the rack, and the rack is a mess to clean up. Stick to the simple solution above.
While I'm at it, I'll put in a plug for Niman Ranch bacon. This is the real deal. Thick cut, smoky, and meaty, this stuff is made from happy, pesticide-free, free range pigs that lead productive, satisfying lives and died in the prime of their tastiness for you and me. Oh man, this stuff is good as is everything from Niman Ranch. Go get some today (Trader Joe's carries the stuff as do other good stores.)
Mmm, salty, rich, crunchy, and meaty. What's not to love?