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Video:Tips for Cooking Bacon

with Brent Rose

Cooking bacon can be extremely easy, whether in a skillet, the oven or even the microwave. Here are some tips for cooking bacon, including how to increase crispiness, uncurl it and dispose of fat.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Cooking Bacon

Hi, I'm Brent Rose for About.com, and today we're makin' bacon, baby. Here are some tips.

Thaw Bacon Before Cooking

If you've been storing your bacon in the freezer, let it sit in the fridge overnight to thaw. Remove your bacon from the fridge, and leave it on the counter for 20 minutes to half an hour. This will help reduce splattering while cooking.

Once the bacon is has warmed up a little, slowly slide the back-side of a butter knife between the strips, gently rocking to separate the slices. This will help prevent tearing.

Use a Cast-Iron Skillet To Fry Bacon

Now, my favorite method of frying bacon is using a seasoned cast iron pan. Cast iron and bacon have a symbiotic relationship, where slow-cooking on cast iron creates a great flavor, and the bacon fat just adds to the seasoning of the pan, making it more non-stick.

Put the bacon slices into the pan at room temperature. You may wish to cut the strips in half to make them more easy to manage. Then turn the heat to a low-medium, which is different from stove to stove. Cooking bacon slowly renders more fat out of it, thus making it crispier, not to mention healthier. If you'd prefer that your bacon not curl so much, try pricking it with a fork.

Cast iron pans are great, but they will be much hotter in the middle, which is why it's important to flip your bacon often, and rotate the strips around the pan. You can use metal tongs if you're cooking on cast iron, but you should never use metal utensils on Teflon pans.

Remove Excess Fat When Cooking Bacon in a Skillet

For crispier, healthier bacon, you may wish to remove excess fat from the pan as it accumulates. The fat rendered from bacon is highly-prized by many as a cooking oil (though it's certainly not very healthy). If you would like to save the fat, you can suck some of it off, using a baster, then pour it through a sieve into a heat-resistant jar. You can also pour it directly from the pan. Let the bacon fat cool, then cover it and store it in the fridge.

If you don’t wish to save the fat, you can just blot some of it off using paper towels, but you must be very, very careful not to burn your hands with the hot fat. Also, it should be pointed out that this can waste a lot of paper.

When your bacon is browned on both sides and looks done to you, remove it from the pan, and place it on a paper towel lined plate. Place another layer of paper towels on top, and blot it. You should now have bacon done just the way you like it. You can usually just give your cast iron pan a quick wipe with a dry paper towel, and it's even more seasoned, and ready for its next mission.

Cooking Bacon in the Oven Is Easy

Another favorite way to make bacon is in the oven. It yields crispy bacon with much less effort. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack inside a baking sheet, then lay out the slices of bacon. Bake in the middle of your oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on desired doneness level. Check it periodically, as you go.

Do not use the broiler as this can cause a lot of splattering, which is tough to clean up and may even lead to fires. Baking should give you crispy bacon, with fewer curls, and most of the fat will have already dripped off and into the pan below, but I still recommend blotting in paper towels.

A Microwave Is the Fastest Way to Cook Bacon

Many stores sell fancy microwave bacon cookers, but you don't really need them. Place two layers of microwave-safe paper towel onto a microwavable plate, then lay out the bacon in a single layer. Cover with another paper towel or two, then put them in microwave.

Six slices will probably take about 4 to 5 minutes on high, but microwave wattages vary greatly, so after two minutes or so, I recommend checking it roughly every 30 seconds to a minute. If you don't have a rotating base in your microwave, rotate it by hand every time you check it. This batch only took about three and a half minutes, and it's very crispy.

For all of these methods, remove the bacon a little early and remember to let it rest for a couple minutes, as it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the heat source.

Dispose of Fat Properly When Cooking Bacon

Lastly, never, ever pour bacon fat down the drain. Why? Because this is what bacon fat looks like at room temperature. It's even colder in your plumbing system, and the fat will turn into a solid mass, clogging your drain. If you're not saving it, put it in a container, seal it, put it in another bag, and place it in the trash.

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