Born from a blog written by graduate students in Massachusetts, International Bacon Day is the Friday before Labor Day, every year. We can’t turn up any information on who these students are, if they ever had a university affiliation or even if they graduated (and if so from what TO what), but we like their holiday and so, we celebrate. Some say bacon doesn’t have to be cured. Some say bacon is not animal-specific. I say just because it’s from a duck or a turkey, doesn’t mean it’s bacon. I also say, if it tastes good, eat it.
This is my blog, so I celebrate only pork bacon, bacon cut from the belly. (Guanciale is another pork bacon, cut from the jowl or cheek. On International Guanciale Day, I will speak of it and tell a really funny story about it …)
Today, though, belly bacon is the main attraction. Forget microwaving and pan-frying, I think the best way to make bacon, is in the oven.
What you need: Bacon, pan, something for lining the pan (foil, parchment). If you want flat bacon, you need a weight big enough to cover the bacon. This can be another baking sheet, a baking stone, or a heavy oven-safe dish.
You also need an oven. Preheat it to 450. Line the pan with parchment/pan liner (best), or aluminum foil (pretty good).
Place the bacon strips nice and flat in the pan, making sure none are overlapping. If you are using a weight, be sure it’s evenly distributed.
And then, bake it until it’s the crispness you want. This can take 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, the pans, etc.
Flat bacon is better for glazing with maple syrup or brown sugar and cinnamon, or brushing with melted chocolate. Also, it looks prettier on sandwiches and you can do more things with it.
Homer Simpson: I’ll have the smiley face breakfast special. Could you add a bacon nose? Plus bacon hair, bacon mustache, five o’clock shadow made of bacon bits and a bacon body.
Waitress: How about I just shove a pig down your throat?”
Move over, eggs. Bacon just got a new best friend – fudge.
-Homer J. Simpson
Bacon is fat and salty, which makes it a perfect complement to sweet and spicy. Blot off the extra fat, and make sure your bacon is at room temperature. Then,
-melt some chocolate and brush it on top of the bacon, freeze, and you’ve got a nice garnish for Dulce de Leche ice cream, yogurt, or banana cream pie.
-Top with brown sugar or maple syrup, run it back into the oven or under the broiler for a few minutes, let it cool to crispy, and crumble it on top of waffles or pancakes.
-Experiment with spices: cinnamon, star anise, come to mind. Mix those in with the brown sugar before you top the bacon.
Keep your friends close, and your bacon closer.