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April 21, 2016

Lazy Man's* Way to Perfect Bacon


Longtime boj reader Mike sent his method (below)


to me after reading one of my tweets or blog posts about my microwave bacon.

After I emailed him about how easy his way was — besides the outstanding result pictured up top — in terms of attention paid during the process (zero) and cleanup (minimal and brief compared to the laborious wipedown of spattered fat from all six internal surfaces of the microwave + turntable before I could use that machine again) — he followed up with the following addendum to his original page of instructions above:

One note I'd add is that, because bacons vary considerably, you should start taking a look at it at the 75-minute mark and maybe every 5 minutes [I've modified this to every 10, being lazier than Mike — and pretty much everyone I know] thereafter so it doesn't get too dark. I also look at the wetness — when the rashers start to look not completely dry but more dry than wet, they're perfectly done. 

I guess he felt sorry for me — more likely pity — that I was continuing to go through the machinations and effort of cooking and cleanup employing the microwave for bacon when there was the potential for a whole other world of indescribably delicious, easily prepared bacon (typical appearance up top) sitting patiently in my kitchen opposite my microwave.

That world lay within my 1967 — yes, 49 years old and still working perfectly, having been calibrated just last year — GE electric oven, built into my 1967 house and happily performing like a champ for nearly half a century with only one (1) service visit in the 32+ years I've lived here.

They don't build 'em like they used to.

But I digress.

Odds and ends I've picked up with experience:

1) I like 275° for 75 minutes before I open the oven door and take my first look. Try really hard not to peek if you don't have a window in your oven door (my situation). Opening the door even a little for a quick look lets out a lot of heat and prolongs the baking process as the oven has to reheat back up to the 275° setting.

2. I dab the finished product with a paper towel very, very gently to degrease it completely after I've removed the bacon-laden wire rack: be delicate, as the bacon at this stage is very fragile and will break if you aren't careful. Half the appeal of these beautifully burnished, finished slices is in their appearance.

3. I experimented to see how much of the original wet weight of the bacon as it came out of the package was lost by the time it was finished cooking. A 12-ounce package of Boar's Head Smoked Bacon, extra-thick cut, turned into 4.55 ounces of baked bacon. So I lost about 2/3 of the original weight, almost all fat. Compare this to Mike's 80%. I suspect every bacon and every oven and every maker will result in a different — but significant — amount of fat loss and concomitant shrinkage.

4. That fat will be translucent and easy to miss, floating on the foil in the bottom of the baking pan under your baking rack. Be careful: it's hot and can burn you badly. I recommend simply leaving the fat-filled pan in the oven until the next morning, by which time the fat will have coagulated and can be easily removed by carefully peeling the aluminum foil lining off the pan and discarding them (fat and foil) en bloc.

*Or woman's

April 21, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink


Bacon can also be baked on inside-out paper bags to absorb the fat. Same principle, no rack to clean. Paper bags won't burn at low temperature. Just keep your eye on it to be safe.

Posted by: Kay Wimman | Apr 26, 2016 7:25:06 PM

You know, I have tried using the solidified bacon fat to cook eggs, precisely because my mother had a bacon drippings container on the stove and cooked eggs with that when I was a kid, but I was sorely disappointed to find that the fat from the slow-cooking pan lent almost zero flavour to the eggs but instead just made them greasy. (I get my eggs from the gorgeous Plymouth Rock hens at Egg Lady Ann’s down the road.)

I remember my mother’s over-easy eggs being quite bacony in flavour, but the ones I cooked with the slow-cook fat had very little added flavour, so it didn’t seem worth saving. On the plus side, that would seem to indicate that the vast majority of the flavor is still in the bacon itself, but maybe I’ll try some different bacons to see if there’s a difference…

Posted by: Mike | Apr 21, 2016 7:12:53 PM

Joe, Joe, Joe, I can't believe you suggested discarding the fat!

I've been cooking my bacon this way for a couple of years now, and the bacon--while wonderful--is only barely better than the second-best thing about this: bacon fat! I keep a ramekin next to the oven, and pour the clean, clear bacon fat into it (usually next to a little bit of remaining solidified bacon fat from the week before). It will solidify overnight and be perfect for cooking after that. Cooking eggs? Don't start with vegetable oil or butter, drop a spoonful of bacon fat in that skillet!

Seriously, don't throw that stuff away, it's delicious!

Posted by: Phillip Winn | Apr 21, 2016 6:18:03 PM

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