How to Make the Best Damn Bacon on Earth

bacon
Erin McGrady for Men's Journal

The smell of bacon is intoxicating. The unmistakable scent of the sizzle can make you instantly change course and beeline for the source. And the taste? It’s addicting. Its rich and savory flavor makes an OK sandwich excellent. Though you can certainly find quality bacon in many restaurants and delis, you should know how to make your own. Let’s dish out our top tips on making the best damn bacon on Earth. Life is too short to put up with limp, undercooked bacon that could have been amazing.

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quality bacon
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Start With Quality Bacon

One of the most obvious tips for amazing bacon actually has nothing to do with the preparation. It’s simple: You must start with a high-quality piece of meat. We recommend a quick online search of your area and pulling up the name of a local butcher (if you’re lucky, you’ll have more than one). Pay ‘em a visit and get a little closer to the source of your food. The payoff is not only feel-good vibes that come from supporting a local business, but also incredible flavor made right in your own backyard.

cast-iron skillet
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Use a Cast-Iron Skillet

Making bacon in a cast-iron skillet is a bonafide way to make perfectly cooked bacon. Why? A cast-iron skillet conducts heat evenly, leaving you with consistently cooked bacon without under- or overdone pieces. It’ll end up crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. Pro tip: Start cooking the bacon on medium-low heat without preheating the skillet. Though you preheat a skillet for some foods, bacon is not one of them.

Method: Set bacon in a room temperature, seasoned cast-iron skillet. Lay the bacon in the skillet but be careful that it does not overlap. Touching on the edges is fine. Match your skillet up with a similar-sized burner and turn the flame to low-medium. As the bacon cooks, rotate it in the skillet so that each piece is evenly cooked. We also recommend flipping it at least once.

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Use a Baking Rack

If you like crispy bacon, get yourself a non-stick cooling and baking rack. It’ll allow the grease to fall through the rack and land in a catch pan, which makes it crispier. (When it’s cooked in a skillet, the bacon sits in its own fat and doesn’t reach nearly the same degrees of brittle in each bite). One additional baking perk: saving the fat that ends up in your catch-pan to use later on. It makes an excellent fat for frying eggs, sautéing vegetables, or smeared on toast.

Method: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Allow bacon to cook for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness. There’s no need to flip the bacon with the rack.

bacon finished
Erin McGrady for Men’s Journal

Season and Flavor Your Own Bacon

Brown sugar, red wine, bacon. It’s savory. It’s unique. It’s delicious and your friends will want the recipe.

Method: Get yourself 8 ounces of black forest bacon. Mix together 1 cup of red wine (try a red blend, doesn’t need to be expensive) and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Lay the bacon in a baking tray and cover with the red wine and brown sugar mixture. Preheat your oven to 400. While waiting, remove the bacon from the mixture and lay it on a cooling/baking rack. Be sure to use a baking tray to catch the fat plus any additional drippings.

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Microwaved Bacon

Hear us out. You may have heard that you should never put bacon in the microwave. Sometimes though, you don’t have time to bake bacon in the oven. On the mornings when you can’t stand the thought of heading out the door sans bacon, turn to your microwave. We promise not to tell.

Method: Use a large microwave-safe plate. Put two layers of paper towels on the bottom of the plate. Lay the bacon out on a single layer. The bacon slices can touch but don’t allow them to overlap one another. Cover the bacon with two more layers of paper towel. Cook time will vary with the amount of bacon and your microwave. Average cook time is 5-7 minutes for six pieces.

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