B is for Bacon
Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork made from various cuts, typically from the pork belly or from the less fatty back cuts. It is eaten on its own, as a side dish, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. Historically, the curing of pork was necessary for the safe, long-term preservation of meat, but the flavor it imparts has become much prized. Several alternatives to and substitutions for bacon have been created and include beef, chicken, turkey, bison, and coconut bacon.
Fun Facts: via lundsandbyerlys.com
Bacon is one of the most popular meats in the US, eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner…and yes, even dessert. It’s been popular for quite a while, with the earliest records of bacon dating back to 1500 B.C! Here are some other fun facts about America’s favorite salted and cured pork:
- The word bacon means “meat from the back of an animal.”
- American bacon is made from the pork belly, which accounts for its trademark streaks of fat. European and Canadian bacon are still made from the back meat of a pig, which is considerably leaner.
- 70% of all bacon in the US is eaten at breakfast time.
- More than 2 billion pounds of bacon is produced each year in the US.
- The phrase “bringing home the bacon” originated back in the 12th century when a church in England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before the church that he had not fought or quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Any man who could “bring home the bacon” was highly respected in his community.
How to Cook Bacon by Food Network Kitchen
The Classic Method: In a Skillet
This tried-and-true method is the obvious choice when you need to cook 6 to 8 slices at a time.
Pull out the bacon from the fridge 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. At room temperature, bacon just cooks up better (like steak).
Don’t preheat the skillet. Lay out the bacon strips without overlapping in a cold pan. This helps the fat render slowly, for consistently cooked strips.
Cook over medium heat — again, good for even rendering. Turn the strips as needed, until they reach the desired crispness, 8 to 12 minutes.
Drain well on a paper-towel-lined platter.
For Feeding a Crowd: In the Oven
Make this your go-to method when you need bacon for a big group and do not want to bother making multiple batches. Plus, there is no turning and cleanup is simple.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and lay out as many bacon strips as will fit snugly without overlapping.
Place in a cold oven. Then heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake to desired crispness, 25 to 35 minutes.
Drain well on a paper-towel-lined platter.
For Just a Few Strips: In the Microwave
When you need only a few pieces of bacon for a burger or BLT, this is a quick and easy way to go.
Line a microwave-safe plate with 2 layers of paper towels.
Lay out the bacon strips without overlapping. Cover with 2 more paper towels.
Cook in the microwave on high to desired crispness, 4 to 6 minutes. Since the strips cook on paper towels, no draining is necessary.
Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball via Damn Delicious
Yield: 8 servings · Prep time: 2 hours 15 minutes · Cook time: 10 minutes · Total time: 2 Hours 25 minutes
6 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped, divided
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 (1-ounce) package ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix, prepared (or equal amount of homemade or store-bought)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Bring bacon to room temperature. Lay out the strips without overlapping in a cold pan. Cook over medium heat. Turn the strips as needed, until they reach the desired crispness, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain well on a paper-towel-lined platter. After bacon has cooled, dice.
In a small bowl, combine half of the diced bacon, pecans and 2 tablespoons parsley; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, ranch seasoning, Worcestershire, and remaining bacon and parsley on medium-high until well combined and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Shape the mixture into a ball and roll in the prepared bacon-pecan mixture.
Serve with crackers.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes via Damn Delicious
Yield: 8 servings · Prep time: 15 minutes · Cook time: 8 hours, 15 minutes· Total time: 8 hours, 30 minutes
6 slices bacon
3 pounds red potatoes, chopped
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 tablespoon ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix, or more, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake until brown and crispy, about 12-14 minutes. Let cool before crumbling; set aside.
Line a slow cooker with aluminum foil, leaving enough to overhang to wrap the potatoes on top, and coat with nonstick spray.
Place a layer of potatoes evenly into the slow cooker. Top with cheese, ranch seasoning, and bacon, repeating 2 more times and reserving 1/2 cup cheese.
Cover potatoes with aluminum foil, then lid, and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours, or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover and cook until melted, about 1-2 minutes.
Serve immediately, garnished with chives.