If America was a pig, then Henry Kissinger would be the bacon. A diplomatic negotiator for peace and trade with our best interests seemingly in mind, all the while covertly subverting vegans. I wonder what part of the pig Nixon would represent? Perhaps the snout. Maybe the trotters. Bacon is likely one of the most diverse and socially acceptable forms of meat in America. I know vegans who still secretly eat bacon. Many of you may be scoffing at the idea of baking bacon, but since we pretty much do everything else to and with bacon, we might just as well bake it, too.
1. Choose a bacon to bake. As strange as it sounds to see it written out, there are many different types of bacon on the market. A list of as many as I could think of is at the right. The photo shows two of my favorites. The one on top is the standard, hickory-smoked bacon. The flavor is a traditional one that goes well with everything. The other is black forest bacon, which is a bacon cured with malted barley, giving it a sweeter flavor. Nothing at all to do with black forest ham, other than the name.
2. Put the bacon into a pan. I like to use the bottom half of my broiling pan because it is thicker than a cookie sheet and non-stick. Lay the bacon pieces on the tray so that there is a small space in between each one. Turn the oven on at 350 degrees F, and put the bacon in. I think that the bacon renders the fat better this way, giving you a crispier bacon in the end. You can safely leave the bacon in the oven for the first 5 minutes of the oven heating up before you need to start checking it.
3. Drain the bacon fat from the pan. After 5 minutes or so, the bacon should be rendering fat very well. If the bacon looks like it's floating in fat, take the pan out and drain the fat into a container. Save the fat, often called "pig butter," for later cooking. Draining the fat speeds up the cooking, and will also make your bacon crispier. This is also the time to flip the bacon, if you so desire. Put the bacon bacon back in the oven and finish baking it.
4. Put the baked bacon onto a paper towel. Once the bacon fat is brown, and it feels firm and crispy to the touch, take the bacon off the pan and lay it on a paper towel to absorb away some of the fat. Consume the bacon immediately while it's still warm, or put it in a baggy to save for later. It never hurts to have a little bacon around for salads and sandwiches, or as a topping for pasta or pizza. It's always better with bacon.
Buy bacon that smells smokey, sweet, or salty, but never sour.
Bacon has a long shelf life because it is preserved, but nothing lasts forever. If your bacon is near the end, cook it all off and put it back in the fridge. Cooking will give it about 6 more days of life.
If you've never baked bacon before, keep your eye on them as they bake.
Seriously, don't throw out the bacon fat. It is a really easy way to add a little flavor to anything, including vegetables, potatoes, eggs, and sandwiches, just to name a few.