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On Bacon

When I see an extra busy day looming on the horizon, I often plan a low-key, easy meal that manages, despite its ease of preparation, to seem quite festive. We call it “Breakfast Dinner,” and usually it is prepared by Rob. I cannot tell you what an immense life pleasure it is, as the Mom and Head Chef of the family, to have someone prepare my dinner to order and serve it to me on the couch. Breakfast Dinner, by the way, is traditionally eaten in the living room while watching anti-educational television. It just tastes better that way.

Recently, I had planned Breakfast Dinner for a day when I was up to my eyeballs until dinner time, and Rob was coming home from an out-of-town business trip. Despite his plan to stay awake until our “real” bedtime, he collapsed as soon as he got home, first in bed, and again on the living room couch after a valiant struggle to wake up and walk down the stairs. When I heard him snoring gently on the couch, I knew that this particular Breakfast Dinner was my gig. I had bought bacon, eggs, and frozen Belgian Waffles, which Rob particularly likes. We always have syrup in the house in a variety of denominations including real Vermont maple syrup which Sam and use, regular old sugar-with-brown-coloring-and-maple-flavoring which Rob likes, and sugar-free syrup left over from a diabetic house guest. We also have, mysteriously, a nearly full bottle of “light” fake syrup with “butter flavoring,” which I must have bought during some sort of fugue state, as I can’t imagine buying such a thing on purpose.

At any rate, on this particular evening, I decided to prove once and for all that bacon should be made in the oven, where it is less messy, less time-consuming, and (I fervently believed) comes out exactly the same as it does when fried in a pan on top of the stove. I should have learned my lesson when I experimented with microwaving bacon, which resulted in thick clumps of bacon permanently fused to several layers of paper towel, but I really just hate frying bacon in a pan.

I had read more than once that bacon could be prepared easily by placing it on a rack in the oven, over a grease-collecting pan, and in fact the bacon package included directions for that method of preparation. Knowing that Rob was safely asleep and would not come into the kitchen to express his shock and horror at my choice of bacon-cooking methods, I meticulously arranged all of the strips of bacon on my cookie cooling rack, placed the rack over a high-edged pan, and placed the whole thing in the oven at the prescribed temperature, having set the timer for the recommended 15 minutes.

Based on my expectations of crisp bacon in that time frame, I began to cook eggs for Rob, and toast for Sam, and waffles for Rob. The toaster dinged, the eggs were finished, and the oven timer went off; opened the oven to discover that, in 15 minutes, the bacon had become microscopically smaller and darker, but was mostly flaccid and pale. Closing the oven, I began to serve what I had already cooked, promising bacon in the near future. Sam ate his toast, Rob ate his waffle and his omelette (an excellent one, by the way) and the oven timer went off. I discovered, on opening the oven, that very little progress had been made. In half an hour at a very high temperature, the bacon was still unacceptably limp and fatty.

Moving quickly to avoid discovery (no one had yet asked why, exactly, the bacon had not appeared) I set a frying pan over medium-high heat, removed the offending tray of bacon from the oven, and began to fry it in small batches. Using this old-fashioned, messy method, I had crisp, brown pieces sitting on paper towel in no time, and they were pronounced “fine” by the bacon connoisseurs in the living room.

Maybe some people like their bacon wet and floppy, and maybe they find the oven baking method satisfactory. Perhaps they should unite with the folks who enjoy their microwaved bacon covered with flecks of Viva. As for me and my house, we are sticking to pan-frying for the foreseeable future.

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About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

4 responses »

  1. Hum…I’ve had good luck with this recipe for baked bacon. I really was fond of the idea, kept the stove top for other things like hash-browns and eggs.

    Keep up the good work!

    Maple-Roasted Bacon
    Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved
    3/4 pound thick-cut smoked bacon (16 slices)
    1 to 2 tablespoons good maple syrup
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon begins to brown. Remove the pan carefully from the oven; there will be hot grease in the pan! Brush the bacon slices with maple syrup and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the bacon is a warm golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

    Recipe Summary
    Difficulty: Easy
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Yield: 4 to 8 servings
    User Rating:
    Episode#: IG0808
    Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

    Reply
  2. Thanks for visiting, BaconBaker! I implicitly trust Ina, so I’ll definitely try your suggestion.

    The brushing with maple syrup part sounds pretty amazing…..

    Reply
  3. A few years back a started cooking bacon in the oven and I refuse to go back to the stove top. I usually set the temp at 375 and put one layer in the pan. I just happen to use the bottom 1/2 of my broiler pan. The bacon is always crispy. I hate limp bacon! It does take a bit of time, I start the bacon first and then start in on cooking the hash browns and french toast.

    Reply
  4. Annette,
    I’m getting convinced…but I fell for this once before…. Seriously, we’re due for Breakfast Dinner in the near future, and I will try again. If it doesn’t work, though, I will be delivering my limp bacon to your house.

    Reply

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