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May 19, 2009 06:24 PM

Bacon for a crowd

I've got to deliver bacon for 40 at the crack of dawn several times over the next couple of weeks. Any advice for a regular person (i.e. not a caterer) on how to prepare and serve bacon in large quantities?

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  1. Hot or warm I presume. I bake mine on a cookie sheet. I would then after I drain on a paper towel put in foil. On the bottom and again on the top and keep warm in the stove. If you don't having chafing dishes this or a simple aluminum pan is fine. You can layer with foil, paper towel, foil and then paper towel. This stays warm you can keep warm in a oven and it works well. You can get the aluminum foil sheets too which work. Those silly medical heat pads you bread and tape to your back or arm or knee work great to keep pans warm, so does a heating pad. Those pads a simple with no outlet. Set the pan on that and it keeps it warm.

    Depends how long without heat. but bacon can also be reheated on a paper towel in 20 seconds in the micro on just in the oven. You can heat all the bacon hot in just 3 or 4 minutes, cover with foil and serve, but it depends what you have on hand. Hope this helps. Glad to answer any questions.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kchurchill5

      I do mine on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Works great in the oven. Reheat in the microwave or a warm oven.

      1. KC's advice is very solid....but do yourself a favor and get to a Costco or similar buying club, or better yet, gain access to a restaurant supply house similar to Restaurant Depot and purchase precooked bacon. Costco sells Armour Brand for 60 slices for around $10. Even if you do not belong to a buying club, pay the 10-15% buyers premium for it it well worth the savings in cooking time, clean up, gas and paper towels.......

        I forgot to add....and you get an extra two hours of sleep each morning too.

        10 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          You say you're not a caterer so I assume these are people you know, and who know you. Please don't serve precooked bacon or your name may be more appropriate than you planned. Fry or bake the night before, wrap in foil and store on the counter, not the fridge (don't panic, it will be fine). Nuke in batches or reheat in the oven for about 10 minutes (just pile it up and give it a toss once or twice).

          1. re: Zeldog

            I would suggest doing this the night before as well. I have often made a pig-load of bacon for breakfast potlucks at work. I get foil pans and bake the bacon at 450 until crispy. Turn once or twice. Drain on papertowels and then place in a clean foil pan. When all bacon is cooked, cover pan with foil and I do refrigerate. Then in the morning, I heat the foil pan, cover and all, in a hot oven until the bacon starts to sizzle. Then put the foil pan (still covered) in a handled shopping bag and off I go. The bacon stays warm for a while or you can keep on a hot plate (suggested).

            1. re: janetms383

              I like to do my bacon in the oven on my broiling pan. No need to drain afterwards as the fat all (mostly) drips through the pan. I line the bottom with foil for easier clean up too. you could do numerous pieces at one time. usually need to flip once. if you cannot do a broiler pan, line your cookie sheet with foil for easier clean up.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                Another recommendation for doing it the night before - it takes literally minutes to reheat a whole package's worth of cooked bacon either in a warm oven or the microwave.

                I find that when doing bacon in the oven, the fat renders more thoroughly and the rashers remain flatter if they are flat on the surface of the sheet pan. I don't line it because I want to save the fat and even heavy-duty tin foil seemed to tear when I use a rubber spatula to get all the good stuff out. 400 degrees, 10-15 min, flipping at the midpoint is optional but not necessary.

                I finally decided to listen to Jacques Pepin's repeated advice that the microwave is best for cooking bacon, and - OF COURSE - he is right. I used to have a plastic rack for that, and it was messy. He recommends doing it in paper towels but since I want the fat I have done it in a ceramic or glass baking dish, just laying parchment over the top to contain spatters. The fat renders completely and the bacon is evenly crisp. Use high power and keep checking for doneness. Timing varies with amount being cooked.

                1. re: greygarious

                  My friend from WI taught me something similar almost 20 years ago. I watched her make bacon one morning and it was strange. Never made it that way. I hated the racks, messy and she said her Mom did it. 1 paper plate, 2 paper towels, then 6-7 strips of bacon or as many as she could squeeze on. 1 more paper towel and more bacon, 1 more paper towel and more bacon topped with paper. About 5 min, depending on the micro and how much bacon ... presto. I don't like making that much, but for just me or just a couple of friends I make it that way. For large groups I usually bake it. But it all depends. That is such an easy method.

                2. re: cleopatra999

                  I only drain if needed. Sometimes it is much learner than others. I put on paper just to be safe, but yes many good quality brands when baked don't always need draining. Just depends on the bacon. And up to you.

              2. re: Zeldog

                You say you're not a caterer so I assume these are people you know, and who know you. Please don't serve precooked bacon or your name may be more appropriate than you planned. Fry or bake the night before, wrap in foil and store on the counter, not the fridge (don't panic, it will be fine). Nuke in batches or reheat in the oven for about 10 minutes (just pile it up and give it a toss once or twice).

                Your concern for quality and reputation is noted, but I am confused? You seem to be a purist, but nuking is acceptable. Cooking the bacon the night before.....and reheating the next day seems an awful lot like pre-cooked bacon to me..... :-)

                For the record, 60 pre-cooked slices is the equivalent to 3lbs of uncooked bacon.

                All the major Bacon Labels offer both cured and pre-cooked bacon. Quality is really not an issue whether it is Armour Brand or Oscar Meyer Brand. It all starts out the same raw cure or pre-cooked.

                1. re: fourunder

                  I assume Zeldog was referring to texture rather than cooking method - the one and only time I had storebought pre-cooked bacon(don't know the brand), it was flaccid and chewy when heated up, and considerably saltier. A pound of ordinary bacon strips is 16 strips so apparently the pre-cooked strips are 25% thinner.

                  I am cooking for one, so a pound of raw bacon will go bad before I get to it. If I'm on my game, I freeze half of it. If I neglect to do that, I'll find myself looking at a lot of bacon that needs cooking NOW. It goes into either the oven or microwave, after cooking, I keep the rashers in the fridge/freezer. Reheated, they have the same taste and texture as just-cooked.

              3. re: fourunder

                Good advice, I forgot all about that. Especially since she is doing it repeatedly. I do it for catering, but not than often. Good call on that. I believe Sams and BJ's too but haven't checked.

                I have used the pre cooked at home, not much, but I tried it and really not bad at all. I was surprised.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  We used precooked bacon for a breakfast buffet every day and it works pretty well. I've found you can cook it in the oven on a cookie sheet in up to about 3 layers and it still comes out crispy. Cooking it in a convection oven helps a lot as well. Fat really isn't that big of a deal because a lot is cooked out of it anyway.

                  Go precooked. If you aren't a caterer and you're bringing home the bacon ;) for 40 they'll understand why its not fresh cooked.

              4. Precooked (actually it is partially cooked)is wonderful, it is a lot cheaper and less messy than uncooked bacon, but it is thin. IMHO tastes much better than the bacon you have to cook. Try it. You just put in a paper towell on a plate, about 8 bacon strips, cover with another paper towell and microwave for a minute, crisps it up real good.

                1. No one has mentioned pre-cooking and freezing, which I seem to remember "hearing" about on Chowhound. I don't recall the details, but have wanted to try it. Perhaps it's the same as the cooking-the-night-before instructions. Would freezing a weeks worth, then taking out enough for forty a day be appropriate here?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    That's what I do most of the time. I hate to cook bacon, so I get out the electric griddle and make one or two pounds at a time (saving the grease of course). Then I freeze it in portions for two. A quick zap in the microwave and life is easy.

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      I have, not a favorite, but I use for personal use a lower fat bacon which may cause some problems. Not sure. But it isn't bad, don't get me wrong. I have done then when I get a package and don't use it all. I will bake and freeze for later. That would work. Hey whatever makes this cooking process for them. I am sure whatever method used will work out just fine.