Help me with bacon.

Apparently quality of bacon differs dramatically with brand. I’ve bought two different brands the most affordable bacon from the grocery store and they were horrible. They were big slabs of fat with only tiny stripes of meat in between them, they shriveled up and burned before they cooked at the way, and the only taste they had was that of salt. I’ve had much better bacon at fast food restaurants. Anyway, bacon is suprisingly expensive, and I don’t want to gamble with the pricier brands without knowing which ones are the good ones. Can any bacon enthusiasts share their favorite brands?

You can’t go wrong with ‘Boars Head’ brand (they are known for their cold cuts)
They average price in N.Y. is about five dollars. Ya get what you pay for.

Farmer John’s, but I don’t know if it is distributed back east.

Yes, you get what you pay for.

Find a butcher that has slab bacon and have him slice some for you. That is the best bacon. Depending on the butcher, it may cost less than the supermarket.

Short of that, go to an upscale supermarket and look at the premium brands. Choose a variety that’s labeled “thick cut.” Most packages have a window so you can see the lean stripes on the bacon – sometimes it’s behind a flap on the package. Choose a package that’s got more lean than the others.

Fry over medium high heat in a pan large enough to hold what you plan to cook. A 12" skillet is almost but not quite big enough for an entire pound… but I can make it work. Just throw the slices you want to cook in the pan in one slab. You can separate the slices much more easily as it warms up and gets soft. Turn frequently and keep an eye on the heat… turn it down near the end of cooking, especially if the grease starts to pop and spit.

Good luck! Good bacon is one of the best foods on earth.

And be sure and save the grease, it comes in handy in a lot of dishes.

Bake your bacon. Easiest way to do it: no messy clean-up, no turning and no burning. Lay your slices next to each other in a shallow roasting pan[1" deep is best, baker’s call it a jelly-roll pan] Bake @ 350 degrees F. 'til desired doneness[medium for me BTW] Drain on paper towels, and devour as desired. You can thank the U.S. Navy for this gem of a cooking tip.

Exchanging one death-spike industry for another?

If you line the pan with foil first, cleanup is even easier. I do turn them once or twice because my oven doesn’t quite cook evenly. Still better than slaving over a popping hot skillet, though.

I prefer it cooked in a skillet, but if you’re in a hurry, nuke it. Take a paper plate (I prefer to just use a microwave bacon-plate) and layer 3 slices per level between paper towels. Cook on high 1 minute per slice. Very quick, easy and still tastes pretty damn good.

Jeff Olsen, awesome bust! :smiley:

Never cook bacon in the microwave–it will taste terrible.

The oven is indeed the way to go. I use a hotter oven, closer to 400, but I put the bacon into the oven without pre-heating it. That seems to help it cook evenly if I don’t get around to flipping it.

I like Fletcher’s bacon best, and I can always find a package with a good meat to fat ratio–if it’s too lean, it doesn’t cook right (on any other meat I cut away every bit of fat, and yet, I love bacon–go figure). I’ll second suggestion of Farmer John’s, it is also quite good.

Bacon has to be grilled.

But I’ve a funny feeling most americans eat what we’d call streaky bacon, as standard, whereas in the UK most people eat back bacon.

I’ve converted to cooking bacon in the oven.

I got your best way to do it:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with tin-foil (for clean up)

  2. Put a cookie cooling rack on the cookie sheet, and put the bacon on the rack. This way, air can move UNDER the bacon.

  3. Cook at 400 (preheating probably isn’t essential).

  4. When it’s just about done, switch the over to “broil” at a very high temperature to get it to a nice crispness.

  5. Never place the bacon on paper towels or blot your bacon with a paper towel to remove excess fat. C’mon. . .you’re eating BACON.

I was reluctant to go to this method because it seems like a copout. But it gets your bacon so much more uniform. It’s so much neater. It’s just as good.

I recommend slab bacon from a butcher.

The supermarket here sometimes has sales on the thick slab bacon (some “virginia” brand or something).

Now, if you’re going through a package of bacon a week, it might be expensive. But I buy a package, eat it, let a few months go by, get another one. It probably extends my bacon budget each year by about $10.

Dredging the slices in flour before frying makes any bacon taste better, to me. It makes for a nice crispness, and keeps more of that yummy fat in there! I’ll have to try baking it that way. And maybe nuking.

A window? Here in the UK, bacon almost always comes in clear shrink-wrap so you can see the whole slice - even the cheap stuff.

Here in the US, the front of the bacon is typically fully visible through a clear plastic wrapper. The back is typically hidden with a stiff yellow or red wrapper, but there’s a window in it that allows you to see the majority of the back of the bacon.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, the best brand of supermarket bacon is Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon. They also say that the premium brands are hands-down better than the standard brands. Of the premium brands they tested, Niman Ranch Dry Cured Center Cut Bacon won.

I’d link to the article, but it’s a pay site, so you’ll have to cough up your own cash to see it.

Would you consider turkey bacon? I’ve been converted to it, and think it’s great.

Back to the OP, I’ve found Farmland and Oscar Meyer to be pretty reliable brands.

Now, for those who pan-fry, three major tips. First, cut the slices in half. Four-inch long slices are much easier to deal with, and minimize the prospect of having the ends still white and uncooked while the middle is done or overdone. Second, don’t separate slices before putting it in the pan. It’s often difficult (if the bacon’s cold, it rips apart before the slices peel off) and it’s unnecessary (the slices will separate easily once they’ve been heated a bit). Just throw the hunk of X number of slices into the pan. Third, pull it out of the pan when it looks 80-90% done – if you leave it in till it looks done, it will be overcooked.

And yes, this refers to “streaky bacon,” what Americans normally just call “bacon.”

My mother used to cook bacon in the oven (on one of those pans with holes in it that you cook turkey on - so the fat would drip away…aluminum foil under that) when I was growing up. I was quite old before I saw bacon fried. It seems much harder and likelier to burn.
I, luckily, have a George Foremann Grill. Yes, I’ve got to cut the slices in half (I have the tiny GFG), but it cooks bacon perfectly. And no clean-up problems. And it never burns.

That’s the one I got! Maybe I cooked it wrong, then…

By an odd coincidence, shortly after reading this thread last night I signed off (well, the computer crashed) and I decided to straighten up a bit. I picked up an older Real Simple magazine and leafed through it and went right to an article on the best bacon. Their choice was Boar’s Head sliced bacon and the runner up was Oscar Mayer bacon.
Precooked: Oscar Mayer Ready to serve
Nitrate-free: Health is Wealth 100% Naturally Hickory Smoked Uncured Sliced Bacon.
Vegetarian: Yves Canadian veggie bacon
Turkey: Louis Rich
Lean: Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon
And now I am craving a BLT … with nice perky tomatoes.