February 23, 2021 – All About Bacon

Humankind must have done something right for bacon to be introduced to our palates. To me, it’s as close to Heaven as one can get while alive (that’s if you disqualify chocolate). Bacon makes everything better. It turns a boring breakfast into a brilliant breakfast. It turns the best burger into the best ever burger. It’s a hot commodity and the folks at Jimmy Dean, Hormel, Farmland Foods, Oscar Mayer, and Trader Joe’s know it! They can charge anywhere from $2.99 to $8.00 per pound and we consumers are still going to buy it. What do you call scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and a banana? Lonely and lost. Without bacon at their side, they lose their sense of purpose. I eat one delicious, crispy slice every single day as part of a well-balanced breakfast. I know it’s not good for me but neither is alcohol or cigarettes or sugar. Something’s got to give at some point and since I don’t partake in anything that ‘alters my mood’, I choose bacon.

I’ve enjoyed it ever since I was a kid. My mom always cooked it in a cast iron skillet on top of the stove. It made one hell of a mess and cleaning it up afterward was something I never looked forward to; however, once I got to sample a slice, I didn’t mind the ‘clean up’ part as much. Because that’s how my mom cooked it, for years I continued to cook it in that manner. It was always a bit stressful because I frequently got burnt from the hot grease splatter. If it burnt my hand, I didn’t like it but I could handle it; but when it burnt my face, that was another story. Ouch! Imagine my surprise when my husband came home from culinary school one day and told me that there was a better way. Huh? How else would you cook bacon? Please don’t say by using the microwave, because I won’t ever be able to take you seriously again. Are you a stovetop bacon cooker and want to know a different and far superior way to cook it? If you are, continue reading.

In addition to the bacon, there are three things that you’re going to need unless you already have them, tongs, parchment paper and an extra-large sheet pan (or the largest one that will fit in your oven). Already have them? Fantastic! Let’s proceed. First, place the rack in the center of the oven. Second, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While it’s heating up, pull out the sheet pan and line it with one sheet of parchment paper. Make sure it covers the entire bottom of the pan. After that, start placing the bacon on the parchment paper. You will want to peel off one slice at a time and place each one directly beside the other, from edge to edge. If you still have more bacon to cook and there’s room on the tray, feel free to fill up the space with any remaining bacon. Once that’s done, set the sheet pan on the center rack in the oven, close the door, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, check to see whether the bacon is cooked to your liking; if not, leave it in until it reaches the crispiness you desire. Once it’s completely cooked, remove it from the oven and place it on top of the stovetop or on a heat-resistant surface. Grab a plate, cover it with a paper towel, and start placing the bacon onto the paper towel. If you run out of room, add another paper towel and keep going. Once all of the bacon has been removed from the pan, set the pan aside and let the grease cool and harden. When the grease has completely hardened, remove the parchment paper from the pan and dispose of it in the garbage (the paper, not the pan). Of course, some people like to save the grease to use for other purposes, so you’re welcome to do that as well. Personally, I pitch it. Anyway, what I’d like you to do now is walk over to your stove top and give it a good once over. What do you see?

If you cooked the bacon as I instructed, you should see a nice, clean, shiny, grease-free stovetop. Not only will the stovetop be grease-free, so will the countertops on either side of the stove, the floor in front of it, the backsplash behind it, as well as you. Yes! Did you notice this is the first time you didn’t come away from the experience covered in bacon grease splatter? It’s nice, isn’t it? Yes, but I will warn you. Once you learn how to cook bacon this way, there is no going back. Ever since my husband showed me how to do this, I only use my cast iron skillet to cook cornbread or hamburgers. Oh! And before I get ahead of myself, after the bacon has cooled on the paper towels, you can put it in a sealed container and refrigerate it. It’ll keep for at least a week. That’s how I’m able to have my bacon readily available each morning. It’s already precooked; all it needs is a little time to warm up and coat the skillet that I’m going to cook the eggs in and then it’s ready to tickle my taste buds.

Oh, heavenly bacon! What would I do without you? You want to know what puts me into a panic? When I wake up in the morning and my husband has eaten the last slice. Noooooooooooooo! As prepared as I am for this scenario to take place on occasion, it always takes me by surprise. Yes, of course I have more in the freezer, but that means at least an hour to an hour-and-a-half before I can have it ready to accompany my eggs and oatmeal and banana. You know what other foods don’t mind being accompanied by bacon? Soup. Crumble up a little bit and place it in your squash soup or clam chowder. Pizza. Do you really think that pepperoni is going to mind if you add a little bacon? No! It will welcome it! Cheeseburgers. Ummm, that’s a no-brainer. What’s better than a cheeseburger? A bacon cheeseburger! Pork tenderloin. Oh my gosh, if you haven’t tried it, don’t waste another day. It will transform your experience!! Certain vegetables don’t mind either, especially asparagus and green beans.

What makes a lettuce and tomato sandwich go from blah to blissful? Bacon. What makes a DIY egg mcmuffin go from meh to magnificent? Right again! Bacon. What makes a turkey and avocado sandwich go from ok to out-of-this-world? Need a hint? It starts with a ‘b’. Sorry, can you tell I’m a bit obsessed? Also, while I’m saying ‘sorry’, I should apologize for saying ‘once’ and ‘bacon’ too many times and also for making you drool. Want to know something fascinating? I just found out that you can also purchase bacon ‘online’. What??!! Yes! And from what many people claim, it’s even better than what you can find at the supermarket. That’s like telling me that after all these years, that there was a chocolate maker that actually made chocolate superior to Godiva and See’s. I feel like I’ve been living in an underground bunker and have had no contact with the outside world for the last decade! What is happening??!!

Apparently, if you want the ‘gold standard’ of bacon, you’ll need to order it online. Those brands that ranked among the highest were Snake River Farms, Benton’s, Tender Belly, Broadbent’s, Vande Rose Farms and Bill-E’s. You must realize that you will pay a bit more for the ‘good stuff’ but if you’re willing to do that, be my guest. I, on the other hand, try to stick to around $2.99 per pound (my current bacon ‘budget’) so it looks like ‘online’ bacon is not in the cards for me. That’s alright, I’ve only had one bad experience with supermarket bacon and that’s when I tried a ‘new’ brand that I hadn’t seen before. It was on sale so I thought, “Why not?” Oh, my goodness! I can tell you ‘why not’. It was really, truly, terrible! My friends, if you spot ‘Coleman’ bacon while you’re shopping at the supermarket, leave it on the shelf and keep on walking! I don’t care if it’s on sale, don’t put it in your cart!

Coleman is best known for making outdoor gear. I’m not sure what they were thinking but one of the ‘higher ups’ must have had the brilliant idea of branching out and producing ‘food stuffs’. For the folks that come up with all of the new and cutting-edge ideas at Coleman, if you’re reading this, stick to making outdoor gear. Please, I beg of you. You do a great job manufacturing lanterns, stoves, furniture, coolers, sleeping bags, and tents. Do us all a favor and stick with that. And let the professionals handle the bacon. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I talk about each day. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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