Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oven Roasted Bacon

What would a southerner do without pork?
I can't remember a time when I haven't had bacon for breakfast, at times lunch, and often times at dinner. The smell of bacon can make me instantly hungry. It was the smell that woke me from sleep at my Robba's house every Saturday morning I spent with her. Unless she made pigs in a blanket. I have no idea what she did to that bacon or the pancakes she made from a box mix, but there is nothing like my Robba's pancake breakfast.
Today brought to an end my quest to fry bacon and not have it shrivel up into a tiny bacon crouton, or burn to a crisp. I like my bacon not too crisp, and certainly not too curly. That desire has left me with this love hate relationship to cooking bacon. I've tried everything from dredging the bacon in flour to fry it( please do not try this) to cutting the bacon in half and cooking it, don't ask I was desperate. I finally came to the conclusion that low, medium high heat, and slow was the ticket, turning the bacon often to keep it from curling up was the ticket. That's pretty much how I've been cooking the bacon for the past six years, until today.

I was watching Food Network yesterday before the house woke up and happened upon Tyler's Ultimate, a show I enjoy if happened upon. I can't remember what his theme of the day was, but he roasted bacon in the oven, for a recipe and was immediately intrigued by this process. He mentioned that it was how restaurants do it to crank out bacon for 500 and when I saw the beautiful flat, not too crisp bacon I knew I was about to embark on a life changing experience. I had heard of cooking bacon in the oven, but always passed it off thinking it would not be such a good thing. Of course I had not seen it done until yesterday. I marched myself down to the kitchen and preheated the oven to 400 degrees and grabbed my Pampered Chef bar pan and laid out a pound of bacon on the pan. Into the oven for 15 minutes, Tyler's suggested baking time. At the 15 minute mark I opened the oven and noticed that it was not quite done, five more minutes did the trick. This bacon was not too crisp, beautifully brown, flat, and very moist. Fat did render from the bacon, but not as much as frying which left more bacon flavor. By this time my kids were up and before I knew it a pound of bacon was gone! The pancakes weren't even done and the bacon was gone. One more pound in the oven. Roasting the bacon in the oven freed me up to focus on every other aspect of breakfast, I didn't have to worry about it one time.

My mind has been racing at the possibilities of roasting bacon ever since yesterday. Here are just a couple of the ideas I have:
  • Sprinkle the bacon with brown sugar before baking, for a great candied bacon.
  • Cracked black pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, dried Italian seasoning sprinkled on before baking. I think this would give ordinary BLT's a new attitude. Especially if you made the BLT on toasted cibatta bread with Olive Oil mayo, Roma tomatoes, and arugula lettuce.
  • Cracked pepper for peppered bacon
  • Chili flakes
The possibilities are endless. Never again will I fry bacon--it's over. I am so excited that I won't have to degrease my stove from the bacon splatter, or feel the pain of bacon grease popping onto my arm, cheek, or eyelid (OUCH!).

Here's are the steps, I dare not call this a recipe, it's not rocket science at all but will be a new era in your pork consumption.

Oven Roasted Bacon

One pound Hormel Black Label Bacon (it's my favorite)
Cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line the cookie sheet (make sure it has a lip) with bacon in a single layer, making sure the bacon does not overlap. It can touch, but just don't overlap. Bake for 15-20 minutes to desired degree of preference. Remove from oven and transfer to a towel lined plate to drain, or pat dry. I found that my oven took 18 minutes to get perfect bacon for my family's taste preference.

Thank you, God, for creating the pig!

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