Broil Your Bacon
In the South there is a general consensus that everything is better with bacon. I cannot say I completely agree. I don’t love most things “bacon-wrapped” or pieces of bacon added into recipes where I don’t personally believe they belong, but I still do love bacon. (In the South, one might say, “I love me some bacon.”)
Crispy bacon with eggs at breakfast is basic, yes, but it is still my absolute favorite way to indulge in this wonderful meat. I grew up with my Dad making awesome bacon using a griddle over the stove with a bacon press. His method produces bacon cooked to order with everyone’s preferred crispness level attainable and all the bacon is flat and delicious looking on the plate. For years I planned to buy a bacon press so that I could make bacon just like my Dad. Not a difficult task when you can buy a cast-iron press like his at retailers like Williams-Sonoma, but still I never got around to it. Was I subconsciously concerned that my bacon would not measure up to my Dad’s even using similar equipment? Let’s face it…most everything we try to duplicate from our parent’s home often does not quite measure up. It seems much of the flavor comes from the atmosphere of love and family that goes into the dish at their house. Or maybe I never bought that press because my Dad’s method also requires a lot of cleanup. Clean the griddle, clean the stovetop and clean the bacon press.
So, after trying many different methods, I now always use a broiler pan. I simply preheat the oven to broil, put the bacon on the broiler pan, put it in the oven, and set the timer for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes, I then turn the bacon over and add time in 1-minute increments until the bacon reaches our family member’s desired crispness. There is about a 1 minute difference between what each of us thinks is exactly the right crispness. I prefer mine crispy and so my pieces take about 6 minutes total (however, ovens do vary, especially at different altitudes, so the “checking-every-minute-after-the-first-3 works best). I am lucky enough to have, and absolutely think I cannot live without, a warming drawer. So I add the bacon to a paper-towel-covered plate to soak up any excess grease and put it into my warming drawer. This keeps all the bacon warm while cooking multiple batches and/or waiting for my extra crispy bacon to get done.
I recently went to a cooking demonstration and had a ball with my good friend Terry while we watched the preparation and sampled “Breakfast for Dinner.” The awesome restaurateur who was wowing us with his exceptional recipes and stories had included some locally sourced bacon (from Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative, grassrootscoop.com) for our enjoyment. At his restaurant they cook the bacon in the oven. He puts the bacon on a jellyroll pan (like a cookie sheet but with higher sides) on 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. About halfway through he (or likely his staff) takes the pan out of the oven and pours out the bacon grease into a container for later use. They do this both to save the grease for other cooking and also to avoid the bacon sitting in the grease to never crisp up. At one point during the demonstration I quietly asked this ultra-experienced and very talented restaurateur what he thought about my broiler pan idea. I was worried he might laugh or give me the “you meet all kinds” look, but instead he said “that is a brilliant idea” because “then you don’t have to pour the grease out of the pan.” Because I am a dreamer and I actually try to look at experiences though rose-colored glasses, I let myself wonder if this great restaurant might start using broiling pans for their bacon because of my question. I know, funny right? Broiler pans have been around since the 1930’s and I am sure many people have thrown some bacon on them over the years. But, I know (from my own informal poll) that many have not heard of this method for cooking bacon or tried it. So, even if I am not a groundbreaker in the bacon prep world, I wanted to pass along this nugget of information and encourage you to try it if you have not already!
So, today my tip is: Prepare your bacon on a broiler pan with your oven set to broil.
Pros for this method
- It is fast.
- The bacon grease falls through the holes and goes in the bottom of the pan to either be used for cooking (some call this “southern cooking gold”) or to be discarded (I know some of you are crying at all the bacon grease that gets thrown in the trash).
- Clean up is as easy as post-bacon cooking gets. The broiler pan has a non-stick surface. The bacon does not generally splatter the inside of the oven like it does on the stovetop, because remember the grease falls down in a contained area of the pan.
- Desired crispness is only about a minute difference on broil so it is easier to serve everyone warm, delicious bacon!