With Bacon Boy and the Bacon Princess among the offspring, bacon is an absolute requirement at family breakfast gatherings around here. For our last family brunch I made two and a half pounds of it. We could have eaten more, but hey, I have to draw the line somewhere.
Growing up, there was one way to make bacon: in a frying pan on the stove top. Its need for incessant tending is quite inconvenient when you’re trying to get a range of other dishes together, and occasionally it’s dangerous in hot weather when more skin is exposed and vulnerable to spattering fat. Ouch! And the mess … the whole stovetop would be greasy, the counters next to it and the floor.
So it was a revelation of the highest order to me some ten years ago when I found a technique for oven roasting bacon in one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. This may be old news to you, but I’d wager that the first time you heard about it, you felt the same frisson of excitement that I did. No constant monitoring, clean up is easy (just let the bacon fat solidify, then fold up the parchment and discard or scrape it off to save) and you can still have your bacon as soft or crispy as you like.
Just line a sheet pan with parchment paper or tin foil, optionally set metal racks on it, lay on the bacon and roast it until done to your liking. For years I used the racks, but I didn’t have enough for big batches and they didn’t fit my sheet pans properly. Frankly, they were awkward and a bit of a pain. Lately, I’ve simply been laying the bacon directly on the parchment paper and roasting away. I did a test last week using both methods for comparison purposes. Have to say, I preferred the direct-parchment-version, and not just because it was easier come clean up time — it cooked faster to a crispy yet still pliable texture. Experiment complete, I enjoyed breakfast for dinner.
If you’re already familiar with this method of cooking bacon, this post may be a bit of a yawn for you. But if you haven’t tried it, do! Sometimes a simple change in technique makes a huge difference.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 ℉ and line as many baking trays as you need with parchment paper or foil. If you’re cooking the bacon at the same time as another dish that requires a slightly lower temperature, just leave it in longer. I’ve made it at 375 ℉ before and it turned out fine; I haven’t made it at a lower temperature.
- desired quantity of the side or streaky bacon of your choice
Place the bacon strips on the prepared tray. If you’re making a lot they can be very close together or even touching since the bacon shrinks as it cooks. Place in the pre-heated oven and roast for 15 minutes for well-done but still pliable bacon. My family likes their bacon super crispy so I leave it in a few minutes longer for them. Since ovens and tastes vary, use trial and error to achieve just the texture you prefer.
Once cooked, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate or tray, and top with more paper towel to absorb excess fat before serving.
Set the baking tray aside to cool until the bacon fat has solidified. Then you can fold up and discard the parchment paper. If you want to save the bacon fat, scrape it off and store.