Bacon, Perfect

In Saveur magazine’s February issue, homage is rightly paid to ’The Best Food in the World’, and that food is bacon. I thought I’d take a little time to convey some of my own views on these slices of epicurean heaven.

There are few foods that can so consistently satisfy me and offer so much delicious love in return for so little effort. Few foods can draw my attention completely to the act of savoring their flavor and texture without any adornment. At a diner, a fancy restaurant, or my own kitchen, bacon can be an exultant experience with equal aplomb. It can be thick or thin cut, applewood or hickory smoked, cured, pre-cooked, pan-fried or microwaved. It’s all delicious.

Crispy bacon in the pan

Neiman Ranch bacon, just cooked.

Don’t get me wrong, bacon can be done badly, but the best part is that one person’s badly done bacon is another’s perfectly prepared. Take, for example, the culinary experiment we (myself, Alisa, Becca, and Brian) conducted last week, using a recipe from Saveur. Our copy isn’t around for me to get the specifics from, but it’s essentially bacon coated in brown sugar and cooked in the oven, until the sugar melts over the crisp* bacon. Observe our process:

1) Get delicious bacon.

Uncooked bacon on plate

2) Get delicious brown sugar.

Brown sugar on plate

3) Coat bacon by pushing into sugar.

Sugar-coated bacon

4) Cook bacon…for a few minutes too long. ::cough::

Carbonized sugar-coated bacon

There’s apparently a ’tipping point’ for this kind of bacon, and we missed it by a few minutes. But even as fused obsidian shards we ate them and enjoyed them (some of us more than others). And that’s the beauty of bacon.

Anyway, the rest of the meal was great as well (and didn’t turn to coal). Here’s a picture of the chicken before it was cooked (it was good):

Chicken before cooking

Oh, and the ’Fat Bastard Chardonnay’.

Fat Bastard wine label

*Let me take a moment here to relay a personal theory on proper bacon terminology. When I ask someone for bacon, there are four ways I can get it: floppy, crispy, crunchy, burnt. I like my bacon crispy, since that’s the best way, and that means flexible, with a bit of resistance and firmness. The bacon should be hard but not brittle. If I want the damn things to shatter like plate glass under my fork, I’ll ask for crunchy. If I want them stretchy like a gummy worm, I’ll ask for floppy. If I want bacon, I shouldn’t even have to ask for crispy. Crispy is the default. Know this.

5 replies on “Bacon, Perfect”


    I have performed experiments with mass-quantity bacon production using a technology I call “bacon in the broiler on a half-sheet pan,” but as you already know, there is a very small and delicate window of time between properly crispy and carbonized.

  2. I have long believed that bacon is the most universal food in the world (assuming you are not a vegitarian). It can go with any meal of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and it will improve the enjoyment of almost any food. I don’t think there is another food item out there that has the same powers of bacon.

    It really is a wonderful meat.

  3. Oh, I luurrrvv me some bacon. I have to say though, microwaved bacon isn’t as good as pan fried or gridle fried. Now, it is good, just not as good. I like crispy thru crunchy. My focus is inbetween the two, very crispy bordering on crunch. It is a fine line.

  4. I have to say though, microwaved bacon isn’t as good as pan fried or gridle fried.

    I do agree, but if you buy the right bacon that is meant to be microwaved (basically cooked already and you just heat it up) or something like Oscar Mayer, which isn’t as high quality, then it tastes pretty good in the microwave. Or at least better than your high quality, tasty bacon would in the microwave. At least this is my experience.


  5. I have to make an argument that the pre-cooked microwave bacon is near-perfect, in that it takes 21 seconds to almost unerringly make crispy delicious bacon.

    convenience + best food ever = near perfection?

    But avoid the Jimmy Dean kind. It’s bad juju. In fact, avoid anything that says ‘Jimmy Dean’ on it. No company takes artificial grill and smoke flavoring more seriously than they do. It’s as if they have something against actually cooking things.

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