In my eyes, Bacon, not unlike pizza or watching b-movies, is special in that even when its bad, its still pretty darn good. My affinity for bacon is very apparent to those who know me well, its in the name of my blog after all. I even have a pig tattooed on my forearm.
But the reason for this post is to share my very favorite form of this specific cut of pork belly.
Many people have now been made aware of this salty sweet combo in the last few years and it honestly shocks me that it took this long.
Due to my previous work in restaurants I have a few particulars when it comes to cooking bacon. Really, aside from camping, which I love, all of my bacon gets tossed into an oven for cooking a.k.a. the restaurant method. The process of course leaves the bacon straight and crispy for thin cut and stiff and slightly crunchy for the thicker variety. The advantage for this cooking process is that it is much less work and cleanup when its done. No splatter on the stove top, no house reeking of smoky pork all day (despite my love for the stuff, that aroma can really stick to walls and become annoying after a while) and no fuss.
Now using this simple oven baking process is great for regular old bacon for my weekend breakfast, but someday’s I want to feel fancy…and dangerous! Cured meat with brown sugar piled on! That’s dirty talk in my household! In all seriousness, this is a once in a while side, although I have found some great recipes to feature it in. My girlfriend and I are both healthy, but adventurous eaters. While we try to abstain from such rich meals throughout the week while hitting the gym, its great to just allow yourself to indulge once in a while. A doctor might not approve, but I am adamant in my belief that this is good for the heart!
Its all about starting with good quality bacon. Thicker butcher cuts always hold up better under the weight of the brown sugar. Thicker cuts will also take longer to cook, allowing time for that brown sugar to melt and crystallize before the bacon is overcooked.
You will need:
-6-8 strips of thick cut bacon
-1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar or light depending on preference
-optional spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg( I prefer it unadorned)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. This will save you some major cleanup time.
- Place a wire cooking rack on top of the foil lined baking sheet. This will allow for some grease to drip off, keeping the bacon from frying in its own fat, as well as keep the curling down. If you do not have a wire cookie rack, this operation will still work just dandy. I just prefer the flat bacon look for this recipe.
- Lay out the pieces of bacon on the wire rack, making sure that their sides do not touch. when the brown sugar melts we don’t want to make bacon Siamese twins here.
- Carefully sprinkle a tablespoon or two of brown sugar on each strip of bacon. no need to be exact with your sprinkling skills here, we will fill all the lonely bacon gaps soon.
- To ensure full coverage of the salty sweet swine strips, take a cold spoon and, using its smooth backside, spread the brown sugar out evenly across each strip of bacon until the entire top side is essentially covered. I know you are probably wondering “well that’s just one side, wont the other side need brown sugar loving too?” and to that I say go ahead if you would like. This approach has yielded great results thus far and the extra labor involved with the backside spreading has only given back minor returns. But I digress, back to the game!
- Once all pieces of bacon receive their brown sugar spa facial, place the rack into your pre-heated oven and clean up your work area. No really go for it, you have some time now.
- Dream about candied bacon, and the brief but wonderful life you will be having together momentarily.
- Back to the action, after about 20 minutes you will need to inspect your bacon. This may show where the over isn’t heating equally, so do your best to realign the strips if needed for equal cooking. Back in the oven they go to finish.
- Now, based on different variables and different ovens, kitchens, cities, states and countries I have cooked in, I have come to the harsh truth that not all recipes can be followed by time. But don’t fret, as bacon is so easy to diagnose by look and feel. It is good practice to keep a close eye on your pork product after the 20 minute threshold. After you have decided enough is enough, you must use all your willpower to then retrieve the bacon from the oven, and let it cool completely. The torture will have a grand payoff so just be patient. This is another area where the rack is quite helpful, as the space beneath the bacon is able to let cool air pass underneath it to help speed along this process.
Time to dig in! In the coming weeks I will be sharing recipes that I have developed with my always helpful taste test subject girlfriend (Hi Katie!) that can utilize this wondrous affair between beast and sweet. But for now, don’t be shy, enjoy them as they are!
I am just getting this up and running so a photo tutorial for the cooking process is coming soon.