Cooking with Bacon

Bacon is a delicious food that can be served on its own or used to enhance a wide range of dishes. This article provides ideas and tips to get you started cooking with bacon.

Bacon 101

Bacon is a traditional breakfast food with a savoury flavour that goes great with staples like eggs and toast. Bacon also has a rich, smoky aroma that permeates the whole house during cooking, which is a great way to roust the morning’s sleepyheads. All bacon has fat, so you should serve it to your family in moderation, or purchase leaner varieties. You can also reduce fat by cooking your bacon until crisp. Just remember, fat contains flavour, so it’s part of what makes bacon taste great. Bacon is also easy to cook, and with a little imagination you can use it to enhance many dishes from hearty pastas to candied desserts. 

Types of Bacon

There are many types of bacon, each with distinct characteristics suited to different bacon dishes. The most popular type is traditional bacon, which is cut from the stomach of the pig. This bacon is often quite fatty, though leaner types are available. Flavour-enhanced varieties are also available, including peppered bacon and applewood smoked bacon. Canadian bacon, also known as back bacon, is cut from the pork loin. It's less fatty, with a milder taste that hints of ham. Pancetta is Italian-style bacon. Cured with peppercorns, salt and cloves, it's packaged in a roll, like sausage, and sold by the slice. Slab bacon, as the name suggests, is sold as single, large piece that's good for roasting. Turkey bacon is another option. It tastes similar to pork bacon but contains less saturated fat. Try experimenting with different types of bacon in your cooking. There is much to explore, and your family will have fun trying your creations.

Ways to Cook Bacon

If your family likes bacon, you're going to want to experiment with different preparation methods. The most common way to cook bacon is in a pan on top of a stove. Any pan will do, but a heavy, cast-iron skillet works best. The thicker the base, the less chance of burning your bacon to the bottom of the pan. Another great option is your oven. Use a casserole dish with a grate so the fat drips off during cooking, or line a baking sheet with tinfoil for easy cleanup. A microwave is also a handy alternative. It’s fast and reduces muss and fuss, but be aware that microwaved bacon retains a higher percentage of fat.

Bacon Buying Tips:

• Don't buy bacon that has an odour when shopping at a fresh-meat deli
• Check the expiration date of packaged bacon to ensure its fresh
• Choose thick bacon for a heartier recipe, but be aware it takes a little longer to cook
• Look for bacon labelled centre-cut as it comes from the meatier, less fatty section of the pork belly
• Leaner bacon is healthier but will usually cost a little more

Cooking with Bacon Fat

Cooking with bacon fat can be a great alternative to using other fats or oils. The next time you fry a pan of bacon, simply pour the cooled, leftover fat into a container and refrigerate it. Add a dab to your next vegetable sauté, or use it to enhance your dough when baking savoury pastries. 

Bacon Bits

These are tiny pieces of cooked bacon used as a topping or condiment. You can buy real or imitation bacon bits in a store or prepare them yourself in your kitchen. Imitation bacon bits are used for the same purpose, but they're a non-meat alternative made of vegetable protein, particularly soy. Artificial flavours and colours are added to give imitation bacon bits texture and taste similar to real bacon.

Bacon Dishes

Bacon and Eggs
Bacon and eggs is a classic breakfast that can be prepared in many different ways. The traditional way to prepare bacon is to cook it on both sides in a flat pan. Keep the heat low to avoid hot splashes, or cover during cooking. Some people prefer their bacon served right out of the pan. For a healthier option, first place it between a few paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Toast with butter and some heated leftover potatoes will round out the dish nicely, and even bacon fiends will tolerate a little fruit on the side.
If your morning intake did not include bacon there's always the option of having a BLT for lunch. Otherwise known as a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, a BLT consists of crisp bacon, fresh tomatoes and fresh lettuce between two slices of toast. For extra richness slather on some delicious mayonnaise and season to taste.
Bacon Carbonara
If you're a fan of bacon and eggs then you should definitely give Bacon Carbonara a try. Inexpensive and easy to make, this popular dish combines bacon, eggs, cheese, cream and pasta. The pasta used is often spaghetti, but other options include fettuccine and rigatoni. Traditional Italian versions leave out the cream.
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
Brussels sprouts with bacon is a wonderful side dish that goes great with any holiday feast. To prepare, cut strips of bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry the pieces until they're nice and crispy. Next, wash the Brussels sprouts and slice them in half. After the bacon is finished, pour the bacon fat in a pan, add the Brussels sprouts and cook in the oven. Remove when brown, mix in the bacon pieces and season to taste.
Bacon Pasta
For an inexpensive, easy-to-make meal that's also delicious, you can't beat a bacon pasta dish. During preparation, your kitchen will fill with a fragrant, hearty aroma that draws kids like a magnet to the dinner table. A tip for reducing cooking time is to chop the bacon into small pieces before adding it to the frying pan.
Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
Many appetizers call for bacon wrapping, but scallops are an ideal union of form and taste. Simply wrap a strip of bacon around each scallop and pop them in the oven. Cooking time depends on the size of the scallop. Serve with a mayo-based dipping sauce for extra richness.
Bacon-Wrapped Steak
Bacon-wrapped steak is delicious, which is reason enough to cook it for your family. But this simple dish is a crafty cook's secret weapon. Some cuts of steak, such as tenderloin, have minimal fat and can turn out dry. Preparing the steak with bacon wraps will add juiciness and a pleasing texture, not to mention delicious bacon taste. For a great appetizer, try cooking bite-sized pieces of bacon wrapped steak on the barbeque.
Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Bacon wrapped water chestnuts make a great appetizer or side dish. Pop them in the oven in a pan and serve piping hot. Your family and friends will love the taste of bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and appreciate you for your effort. Little will they know, this gourmet snack is a cinch to prepare and virtually impossible to mess up.
Bacon Dessert
Bacon jam sounds a bit bizarre until you try it for the first time. The same goes for bacon marmalade, candied bacon and the explosion of recipes for decadent desserts laced with bits of porcine goodness. With a little experimenting, you're sure to discover recipes that turn into family traditions. 

Bacon Safety and Storage Tips:

• Use bacon within seven days of purchase or by the "use by" date
• Bacon fat can turn bad over time even when it's frozen; don't store in your freezer for longer than 1-4 months
• Freeze bacon strips two or three together, so you don't need to thaw the entire package for a small meal
• Bacon stores longer after its cooked
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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