Ready To Cook Like A Chef?
Very few dishes rank higher than a perfectly cooked piece of meat. Most home cooks, however, are not confident they can stand toe to toe with a trained chef. Whether you are cooking for yourself or hosting a dinner party, here are our top tips for plating up satisfying and succulent pork dishes, starting with the fan fave: bacon!
A Meaty Lesson Plan
Ok, class. Today we are going to talk about the bacon bits: Choosing the right cut (how much fat do you really want?), picking your preferred style (cured, uncured, etc), deciding if you want it flavored (we see you, maple), and how to cook it up!
When it comes to bacon, you’ve got options. Offered in regular or thick cuts from both belly and jowl, the right cut depends on how you plan to cook it. More often than not, thick cut holds up better and provides more flavor. Belly meat is more even in fat distribution, where jowl meat has larger pockets of fat. While they taste similar, it comes down to texture. Belly bacon is more crisp and jowl bacon is smoother.
Style & Substance
What is the difference between cured and uncured? It is smaller than you think. All bacon is, essentially, cured. Meats labeled as “cured” are either brined in salt water & sodium nitrate (wet cured) or, less commonly, rubbed with salt, sodium nitrate, sugar and seasonings (dry cured). Meats labeled as “uncured” are still cured in salt but are preserved with naturally-occuring nitrates, like celery powder.
When it comes to the choice of flavoring or plain ole’ bacon, there are yet more options. If you want to add some flavor into your dish, opt for pepper crusted strips or maple and jalapeno infused bacon. If you prefer more classical flavor, there are a variety of wood smokes available, with hickory being the most popular. Other great wood offerings are cherrywood or applewood, especially if you want a pop of fruit finish!
Make It Sizzle
Ok, here is the million dollar question: what is the best way to COOK the bacon? You can obviously fry it, pop it in the oven or air fryer, or even grill it! The one constant is allowing the strips to drain on paper towels afterward. Bottom line - what do you want out of your bacon?
Easy & Crispy: Go for the oven! With this method, you avoid babysitting the bacon, annoying oil splatter or burns, and you get perfectly crispy results. We recommend bacon with a good amount of fat for this cook style. For the oven, you will want to crank it to 400° and set the bacon on a wire rack laid over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for a total of 35-50 minutes, rotating the sheet between top and bottom rack halfway through.
Mess-Free & Quick: Try the air fryer! Skip the mess or hassle of cleaning and get delicious bacon in minutes. No need to pre-heat the air fryer, just pop in your bacon (regular or thick cut works) and decide if you want chewy or crispy and set the temp to 350°. For Softer regular cut, cook for 7 minutes and for thick cut go for 9 minutes. To get crispy regular cut, we suggest 8 minutes and for the thick cut leave it for around 12 minutes.
Tried & True: It’s a job for the cast iron skillet! This is the classic method for tackling bacon, and it is no slouch, producing crispy and flavorful results. You can start with a cold pan or pre-heat at a low to medium temperature. If you choose cold start, arrange bacon slices comfortably and then set skillet on burner at medium heat. Cook until bacon browns on one side and then flip. Continue to flip until fully cooked, around 10 minutes from start to finish. Should you select the heated start, bring an empty pan to temp over medium heat for about 5 minutes and then add oil to prevent bacon from sticking. Proceed as if with cold start pan, but cook to your liking.
Smokey & Summery: Pull out the grill! This route is pretty mess-free, but it is all about the flavor profiles. Heat grill to medium and, when ready, lay on thick cut bacon (regular cut won’t hold up to the flame). Cook until charred on the edges, about 7 minutes. Turn bacon over and grill for an additional 3-5 minutes. Getting flare ups? Lower the lid and carefully check periodically for doneness. Times do vary depending on your grill, so be mindful especially if this is your first try at bacon!
Bring Home The Bacon
Ready to get cooking? You have all the information, now you need to find the meat! While your local supermarket might have a considerable selection, there are even more options available to you if you crave a culinary adventure. Consider checking your local independent butcher or getting home delivery from a humane family farm for more unique cuts. No matter which bacon you choose, we wish you happy sizzling!