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Major bacon fail

m
mutterer Mar 18, 2010 07:21 PM

I posted this query a couple of years ago:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/437152

And I appreciate all the answers people gave me, but I am STILL FAILING to cook crispy bacon. So here's the mystery boiled down to its essence for me: most people say to take it out the pan and then it will it crisp up. But what qualities am I looking for *while the bacon is still in the pan* that will indicate to me that the bacon will crisp up after I take it out?

I do things that most people posted about, cooking the bacon on low, turning it often. I swear I wind up with the bacon in the pan for 20 or 30 minutes and it is STILL rubber after it comes out and then cools. What the hell am I doing wrong? Tonight my husband said the bacon literally tasted "uncooked" although it was in the pan for 20 or more minutes.

HELP!

  1. LaLa Mar 18, 2010 07:28 PM

    I do my bacon in the oven and it comes out perfect everytime////have you tried that?

    http://myrtle-beach.visitsouth.com/

    9 Replies
    1. re: LaLa
      Phurstluv Mar 18, 2010 07:40 PM

      So do I. You can put it on a rack in the oven, it will crisp that much faster. And if you have convection, that works well to hasten the process.

      1. re: Phurstluv
        Vetter Mar 18, 2010 08:22 PM

        The rack in my oven is my favorite too. Now if only the rack wasn't such a pain to clean. Whatever, it's worth it!

        1. re: Vetter
          Phurstluv Mar 19, 2010 01:41 PM

          I put mine in the dishwasher!!

          1. re: Phurstluv
            LaLa Apr 12, 2010 02:17 PM

            me too

        2. re: Phurstluv
          m
          mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:25 PM

          Will it crisp while it's in the over or after you take it out? That's the problem I always have -- how to discern whether it will be crispy in the future. I just don't get how you do that.

          1. re: mutterer
            Phurstluv Mar 19, 2010 01:42 PM

            It has to dry a bit since it won't be 'crispy' while sitting in melted fat. So drain the pieces on a paper towel, they'll crisp up.

            And they should be sufficiently browned, that the actual fat streaks are no longer white or pink, but brown.

          2. re: Phurstluv
            w
            writergeek313 Mar 19, 2010 06:49 PM

            This has been the only way I've been able to get my bacon really crispy. Half the time I set the smoke detector off when I take it out of the oven that's how long I bake it! I put a rack on a foil-lined cookie sheet, then usually put another cookie sheet or some foil on the lower oven rack just in case there are any splatters.

          3. re: LaLa
            j
            julesincoq Mar 19, 2010 02:28 PM

            I have not tried the oven method yet as I'm afraid of the mess. Won't it splatter all over the inside of the oven...and then won't it smoke me out of the house?

            1. re: julesincoq
              Phurstluv Mar 19, 2010 03:51 PM

              It's not a worry if you have a self-cleaning oven. And no, it doesn't smoke in the oven. I do it quite frequently without cleaning the oven in between and it's not an issue for me.

          4. d
            doribug Mar 18, 2010 07:44 PM

            Most likely you have too much bacon in the pan, or too much fat, or both. Don't try cooking the whole pound at the same time. It'll crisp up the best with less fat and more room.

            If you're using a standard frying pan try 4-5 pieces in the pan at a time. Pour off excess fat during the cooking process. On a low-medium heat it should crisp up in about 10 minutes.

            5 Replies
            1. re: doribug
              m
              mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:26 PM

              But even if I follow those directions, does it crisp up WHILE it's in the pan? If not, how do I tell when it's time to take it out? This is what I'm trying to zero in on.

              1. re: mutterer
                f
                foiegras Mar 18, 2010 09:06 PM

                I sometimes remove fat if it's popping too much.

                Basically you want to take it out before it burns. I cook it as much as possible without burning it. The little tiny bits that are loose and sticking back to the bacon strips will be dark brown at the point you want to take it out.

                I wonder if you don't have the heat too low. I cook it on medium, turn it down if it seems too hot.

                Why not get someone to show you?

                A thick cut should be no problem ... that's all I use.

              2. re: doribug
                greygarious Mar 18, 2010 08:59 PM

                I completely disagree. The bacon crisps up more thoroughly and evenly if you do not pour off the fat. It's like making cracklings - the fat in the meat renders more completely if the meat is surrounded by fat. If using the stovetop, I fill the pan as much as possible and cook over medium heat until all the pieces are brown and crisp while in the pan. Then drain well and save the bacon grease for making home fries.

                If making it in the oven, I do not use a rack - same reason, it is least fatty, and crispest, if it cooks in its own fat. I save that fat, too.

                In the microwave, no rack or paper towels. I saved the lipped ceramic tray from the prior microwave. Put the bacon on that, cover with a circle of parchment. When done, I save that fat too, though it is not as good as oven or stove fat. I think it has water in it - no brown specks and it doesn't harden as much in the fridge.

                1. re: greygarious
                  j
                  julesincoq Mar 19, 2010 02:36 PM

                  I have used the microwave too and the thing I dislike the most is the stinky microwave after. Everthing smells like bacon for days. So here is my handy dandy little tip: put some water and couple of tbsp of vinegar in a glass bowl and boil it for a few minutes. Wipe out the inside of the microwave after since the sides are all steamy now it's easy to wipe and the vinegar takes away the smell.

                  1. re: greygarious
                    janetms383 Mar 19, 2010 02:57 PM

                    I'm with you on this one. I think the more fat in the pan, the better the bacon cooks. I cook it in a very hot oven 425 - 450 and use a disposable foil pan for easier cleanup. Sometimes, the bacon is "limp" while it's hot, but it will not cook more once you take it out of the pan, so you need to cook it to doneness.

                2. b
                  bluemoon4515 Mar 18, 2010 08:12 PM

                  Did you try a thinner cut at some point in the last 3 years and still no dice?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bluemoon4515
                    m
                    mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:24 PM

                    I have stuck with the thick cuts. That's what the nicer bacon in the store seems to be these days. Maybe I should try thinner?

                    1. re: mutterer
                      TorontoJo Mar 19, 2010 01:55 PM

                      Yes, the thicker cuts tend to be chewier than the thinner cuts.

                      In the frying pan, cook it over a low to medium low heat. Turn regularly, but it doesn't have to be too frequently.

                      When the bacon is about ready to take out, the color will be a deep reddish/golden brown (not black!) and the fat will be making small bubbles on the surface of the bacon. The bubbles are one of the best indicators. If you watch the fat on the surface of the bacon as you cook it, you'll see it go from big fat popping bubbles to much smaller, fine bubbles.

                      Remove bacon from pan and put on a thick layer of paper towels to drain. Let cool for a few minutes, and it should be crisp.

                      1. re: TorontoJo
                        greygarious Mar 19, 2010 05:15 PM

                        Those bubbles are water, which you need to cook out to achieve a crisp result.

                      2. re: mutterer
                        elegraph Apr 12, 2010 02:11 PM

                        I don't think you can get a thick-cut bacon to crisp up. Try the thinner cuts. Look for lots of fat, which is the center-cut, as opposed to the leaner, tougher back-cut bacon. The flavor is in the fat. If it curls up and gives you problems when you fry it, go to a kitchen store and invest in a cast-iron grill press, or just weight the ends down with a heavy spatula.

                        Fry it on medium-high until the fat part of the first side browns nicely, repeat on the second side (flip once). Drain on paper towels and wait a minute or two. If it still isn't crisp enough, nuke it on the paper towel for 30 seconds. You will succeed, it just takes practice!

                        1. re: elegraph
                          Phurstluv Apr 12, 2010 05:57 PM

                          I disagree. I mainly only use thick sliced bacon. I'm so used to walking away while it's in the oven, that when I only have the regular sliced I almost always overcrisp or burn it since it's so freakin' thin.

                          And my thick sliced bacon comes out crispy, you just need to be a patient and give it time.

                    2. b
                      beggsy Mar 18, 2010 08:27 PM

                      I agree the best way to get crispy (and flat) bacon is in the oven. I put mine on a cookie sheet at 350 or 400 (depending on how quickly I want it. ) I never preheat. Drain grease once if necessary.

                      If you do use a frying pan, you have to drain the grease a lot or it won't cook evenly or crisp well.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: beggsy
                        m
                        mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:30 PM

                        okay, but i am still trying to answer a SPECIFIC question, which is: when it is in the oven, do I look for it to be crispy before i take it out? alternatively, in the fry pan, how is it supposed to look BEFORE i take it out so that it will be crispy after i take it out. sorry, but i just can't seem to get this and i need very specific advice. thanks.

                        1. re: mutterer
                          Jen76 Mar 18, 2010 08:36 PM

                          Each slice should be evenly golden brown over pretty much the whole slice. The darker brown it is, the crunchier it will get as it cools. I use my toaster oven or the microwave in a pinch. I use thick sliced bacon as well. My problem is watching it closely enough so it doesn't burn because it goes from golden to burned really quickly.

                          Also, are you taking it out of the pan and resting it on paper towels and patting off the grease? This may help, too.

                          If you haven't seen it, Chow has a video on this very subject so you can see exactly how it's done:

                          http://www.chow.com/videos/show/youre...

                          1. re: Jen76
                            m
                            mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:56 PM

                            thank you. that's exactly the kind of information i was looking for. so i look at the color? the thing that eludes me is that the texture is one way when it's in the pan and another after it leaves, but i guess that's not what i'm supposed to be focused on.

                          2. re: mutterer
                            b
                            beggsy Apr 12, 2010 01:17 PM

                            Yes, it is crispy when I take it out. I haven't cooked bacon in a pan in years but I'm pretty sure it would have to be crispy when you take it out.

                        2. cheri Mar 18, 2010 08:41 PM

                          I am so surprised people don't mention doing bacon in the microwave more often. It turns out perfect every time and is a lot easier in many way. I take a platter, cover it with a double thickness of papertowel, lay the bacon strips on the papertowel, cover that with a single layer of papertowel and again perfect bacon every time! You can make it soft or crispy, you are in complete control. The last minute or so will make the difference. I usually cook it 5 mins at 50-60% power and again watch it the last minute, it sometimes needs a little more time, give it anohter 30 sec zap and see if it is how you like it. Best tasting bacon is done n the microwave IMO.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cheri
                            cheri Mar 18, 2010 08:56 PM

                            oh I should also mention it is a lot less greasy this way, the papertowels absorb ALL the grease, it is so much better in so many ways!

                            1. re: cheri
                              janetms383 Mar 19, 2010 02:59 PM

                              i don't think it cooks as evenly in the microwave as in does in a conventional oven

                            2. re: cheri
                              m
                              mutterer Mar 18, 2010 08:57 PM

                              so when i'm "watching" in the last minute, what specifically am i watching for? that is what i don't get: what to look for to see whether it is done. thanks.

                              1. re: mutterer
                                w
                                weezycom Mar 19, 2010 06:55 AM

                                It should be evenly medium brown all over and the ridges/bumps that are in direct contact with the pan are starting to turn dark brown. Flip the slices and get that side with the bumps turning dark brown. Pan heat should be medium to medium low, depending on your stove & pan.

                            3. h
                              housewolf Mar 18, 2010 09:12 PM

                              I like my bacon very, very crisp. The best way I've found to cook it to my liking is in the oven at about 375 degrees or 400 occasionally. I lay the bacon out in a single layer and do not crowd it in the pan. It browns and crisps in the oven and that's when I Iake it out. I use regular-slice bacon though and have never tried it with thick-slice.

                              1. ipsedixit Mar 18, 2010 09:34 PM

                                Sounds like your bacon is too thick.

                                Use thinner slices.

                                1. dave_c Mar 18, 2010 11:36 PM

                                  My approach to cooking bacon... thick or thin slices.
                                  1) place a single layer of bacon in a cold skillet
                                  2) cook over medium heat.
                                  3) while cooking I do NOT turn frequently... My thinking is too much turning won't allow the bacon to crisp. Total number of turns is about 3 or 4 over 10-15 minutes. If the bacon is browning too quickly, turn down the heat a touch.
                                  4) Sometimes bacon will curl on the edges and look uncooked... I move the raw edges into the bacon grease and press down with a fork. I'm "deep frying" the edge to brown and crisp up.

                                  The oven method works too, but can be messy. With a skillet all the oil is contained in the skillet.

                                  Microwaving works too. You can wrap the bacon in paper towels or use a microwave proof dish covered with paper towels.

                                  In regards to your question about when the bacon becomes crispy, it should be crispy out of the pan.

                                  1. j
                                    JRicher Mar 19, 2010 07:46 AM

                                    I use my George Forman grill for bacon. I preheat the grill, toss on four or five slices of bacon, flip once during cooking and take it off when the pieces are all evenly browned. They come off the grill floppy and get crispy while draining on paper towels. Then I just pour the grease from the drip tray into a coffee mug and save it for later use.

                                    1. eight_inch_pestle Mar 19, 2010 11:12 AM

                                      Mutterer,

                                      This must be so frustrating. Here is what I say. Bake it. I usually do it on a baking sheet, although a small skillet is fine for like four slices. No need for a rack (hard to clean). There are different theories on time and temp and you will find what suits you. I go for 350 degrees (I find anything higher tends to burn the meat and leave the fat chewy while failing to render enough future-cooking goodness---but, again, that's just me) and don't open the door for 25 minutes (set the timer). Refrigerator-cold, relatively thick-sliced bacon tends to take about 28 minutes---sometimes a couple minutes more, sometimes a couple minutes less. The variation seems to depend on the pan. And even a couple minutes on the counter noticeably reduces cooking time---for better or worse, depending on the shape of your game.

                                      But here is the thing, the key: effin' nuts to all this judging by color and guessing how much the meat will crisp up as it cools. Use your fingers (carefully), a fork, a spatula, whatever, and do not remove the bacon until it feels, looks, and sounds crispy. If it ends up being a wee bit crispier than you want at room temp, that is still better than the husband telling you it tastes uncooked, right? It will still taste great, and next time you will know to pull it a couple minutes earlier.

                                      If you *really* don't trust yourself and want to be sure you nail this thing down, start taking pictures of the bacon as you pull it out, and jot down "doneness" notes about each batch. Refer to your photos as you check future batches until you're confident in what you're doing. It WILL become second nature. I promise. Good luck!

                                      1. t
                                        tomatoaday Mar 19, 2010 03:07 PM

                                        Are you cooking supermarket bacon or one from a more dedicated production source? Most widely distrubuted brands are not smoked but wet cured (for something amazing like 17 seconds) and as a consequence have a higher water content. If you are using that type you are actually doing 2 things - getting the water out and then crisping the meat and fat. If it seems wet to you when you are seperating the slices, press them with a paper towel. And make sure they don't overlap at the edges - the interior edges won't cook as much and won't be crispy. You could also try broiling the bacon briefly after cooking, pour off the fat first and watch carefully. I do mine in the oven as well - the pieces stay a lot flatter and cook more evenly than on a stovetop. Good luck!

                                        1. Quine Mar 19, 2010 05:48 PM

                                          I've read the replies and I see your frustration. So let's do a pass/fail experiment. That seems to be what you are asking. How do you know what you see in the pan when removed and let sit, crisps as you want it.

                                          OK gotta set standards. get your bacon. If you want to cook it straight from the refrig. only remove two slices and put the rest back. I don't know if you are using electric or gas, but you want your skillet to heat medium to start ( low takes too long in this process High doesn't give you time to access) and you want a good solid heavy bottom skillet. Bring it to medium heat, the skillet. To test that pick off a small bit of bacon fat, and throw it in, if you see a MAD sizzle, heat is too high. If you see no sizzle, heat is too low. If you see just right sizzle, you are good. Now get ready to place the bacon strip in. Insider's tip, give a slight stretch to the bacon then lay it in the pan.
                                          Now: You get to test what you fry. have draining paper towels ready ( brown grocery bags work as well - recycle!)
                                          When you get the sizzle, and you see some color change, it's browning, flip it. This side will cook faster. Drain it! Now see if that is your preferred Crisp level. IF not do 2 more strips, let them go longer. Repeat until you find your level.

                                          And who can have too much bacon tasting??

                                          1. b
                                            bon mot Apr 12, 2010 10:36 AM

                                            I'm with several of the other posters who like to fry up a lot of thick bacon at once. Put the whole pound in and let a LOT of the fat render. You'll probably end up with pieces on top of each other and they won't all come out straight, but they will come out crispy. You have to keep moving them around with tongs, and don't worry if a few pieces get stuck and break.

                                            Here's your marker: When all the fat has turned from white to brown on any particular strip, remove it to a plate lined with paper towels. That's why you've got to keep moving each piece,

                                            But I think the volume of grease you're cooking in is important. And save the grease! As any Cajun knows . . . first you make a roux . . .

                                            1. greygarious Apr 12, 2010 02:28 PM

                                              Worth a mention: whether you fry, bake, or microwave, once the bacon is cooked it will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks, unlike raw, which will start to go bad in a week or so once the package is opened. I find it convenient to cook at least a half pound at once - one cleanup. Reheat as much as you need at a time - cooked, it won't make a spattery, greasy mess. It's especially convenient in hot weather, so on a sultry day you can make a bacon grilled cheese or BLT sandwich with just a toaster oven, panini press, or wafflemaker.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: greygarious
                                                Phurstluv Apr 12, 2010 05:59 PM

                                                Yes, I just love that about bacon that's why I buy it in bulk when on sale, freeze packages I can't cook in time, and cook a pound at a time, always.

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