The Ultimate Guide to Bacon
What a bacon-nalia the past few years have been, with everyone's favorite cured meat starring in cocktails, candy, condiments, you name it! But there's nothing like the smell of bacon in the morning, so we're returning the sizzling strips to their rightful throne: your breakfast table!
The Pig Picture
Any way you slice it, bacon is delicious. Here's what you need to know about the most common types you'll find at the store.
These 1/8-inch slices are about twice as thick as standard bacon. The sturdy strips won't shatter like the skinny ones can, making them great for dipping into soft-cooked eggs.
All bacon is cured pork belly, which means it's preserved with salt and sodium nitrite. But there is one difference: Bacon can be labeled uncured if it is made without added nitrites. To be considered uncured, the bacon is preserved with ingredients that contain naturally occurring nitrites: sea salt, celery and spinach juice.
Made from hogs raised on organic feed, this bacon tends to be of the highest quality and often has a more prominent porky taste.
These strips are cured with about half as much salt as regular bacon, so they're good for the sodium-sensitive and for use in recipes with salty ingredients (like cheese). The best part? You can barely taste the difference!
Unsliced pork belly with the rind attached is more versatile and less expensive than presliced bacon, and it keeps longer. Cut strips for breakfast, mince and cook for DIY bacon bits, or chop into bite-size pieces and use in casseroles and frittatas.
This lean, lightly smoked cured meat isn't technically bacon: It's a cut from the pork loin, which is why it's round (and lean!). Pan-fry, then layer it on eggs Benedict and breakfast sandwiches.
Coated in crushed peppercorns, this spicy, smoky option adds big flavor to mild foods like grits and omelets.
Bacon doesn't have to be smoked, but time spent over smoldering hickory, apple, maple and other woods adds a sweet, smoky flavor and creates dense strips that shrink very little as they cook. Look for naturally smoked bacon, which has a better flavor than versions pumped with liquid smoke.
Made from a mix of ground light and dark meat, turkey bacon has less fat and fewer calories than its pork cousin and tends to shrink less during cooking.
"Country-style" bacon generally refers to a heavily smoked style that is often rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar and other seasonings, which gives it a robust flavor.
Do the Twist
Twist uncooked thick-cut bacon into tight spirals and place on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy, about 35 minutes. Let cool on rack.
Put an Egg In It
In a skillet, cook bacon over medium until fat is translucent, 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, let cool, then cut half the pieces in half crosswise. Bend 1 whole slice to line the inside of a cup in a muffin pan and use 2 halves to cover the bottom, overlapping at the edges and pressing to adhere. Repeat with remaining bacon; crack an egg into each cup. Bake at 375 degrees until egg whites are firm, 10 to 18 minutes. Season.
Take the Pancake
In a skillet, cook bacon over medium until browned, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from pan; pour all but 1 tbsp. grease into a bowl. Pour 1/3 cup pancake batter into the skillet in an oval shape; top with 1 slice bacon. Cook until pancake is golden, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter and bacon, adding reserved bacon grease as needed. Serve with butter and syrup.
Sweeten the Deal!
Brown sugar-glazed bacon just might be the best thing to happen to your morning. Arrange bacon strips on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook at 375 degrees until bacon starts to brown, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with any of the combos below and bake until crisp, 5 minutes more.
Also Try ...
Brown sugar + cayenne
Brown sugar + fennel seeds
Brown sugar + ground sage