The best way to cook bacon

Crisping, baking, microwaving, frying...

by: Tessa Purdon | 04 Dec 2012

It’s a well known fact that 99% of people, when eating out, will order their bacon crispy. If you don’t fall into this camp, don’t worry no-one’s judging.

After all one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Which is why there’s nothing better than cooking bacon at home; you get to make it just the way you like it!

How to cook the best bacon

Many people have a real love affair with this gorgeously tasty piece of pork, but are somewhat unsure of how to cook it. There really is no rocket science to it but of course it all depends on how you enjoy eating it.

One thing to note is that old bacon burns much more easily than fresh bacon so don't stash it away in the freezer for months on end.

For crispy bacon:
- Choose thinner slices for a crispier end product
- Don't cook it on high but rather keep the temperature of the pan to medium/medium-low
- Pour the fat out of the pan as it renders out of the meat. This source of fat has an amazing flavour so don't throw it away.
- Cook the bacon slowly. This stops it from shrinking.

I know a lot of people who cook bacon (and everything else!) in the microwave and there's nothing wrong with that. Again, no judging.

Here's what to do:
Place bacon in between 2 sheets of microwave-safe paper towl and place in a suitable dish. Cook on high for 5 minutes, stopping every minute to turn the bacon. You can always cook it more if you are working with thicker-than-average slices.

Don't use your oven grill for this! It's extremely volatile and you have to pay close attention as the meat cooks very unevenly. Rather, use the oven setting. Preheat it to 200°C and layer the bacon on a flat baking sheet. What's nice about this method is that you can cook a lot at one time. Set the timer for 7 minutes and then turn the meat for another 7 minutes.

Different cuts

- Streaky bacon
This is actually cut from the pork belly and has a higher fat percentage, making it a good choice for those who like crispy bacon.

- Back bacon
This is more meaty and comes from the loin.

- Gammon
This comes from the hind leg of the pig and is often eaten at Christmas.

- Hock
You'll find the hock between the ankle joint and foot of the animal.

Best bacon for:

- Full English Breakfast
Many people swear by the crispiest of streaky bacons, which is great - if that's how you like it. But the traditional English brekkie makes use of back bacon which is much meatier.

- Carbonara
Unsmoked pancetta is the meat of choice when it comes to this classic dish. It is dry-cured and often comes in rather big chunks that need to be cut up into smaller pieces.

- Quiche Lorraine
Streaky bacon isn't a bad choice but there is also a leaning towards using more of a meatier cut. Traditionally though, lardons are are used, which are pieces cured with salt and are not smoked. The meat's natural flavour is much more pronounced.

- Sandwiches
try and get hold of some shoulder bacon (aka cottage bacon) that's lightly cured and unsmoked. It's usually oval in shape and quite meaty.


Read more on: cooking  |  bacon

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