Streaky bacon has the perfect ratio between fat and meat. Whether you enjoy it as the fantastic addition to a classic American breakfast or with waffles and syrup, either way, nothing can ruin a breakfast as quickly as bacon that is either undercooked or tough and chewy. Let’s see why that happens and look at the best ways to cook bacon to avoid it being tough and chewy.
Bacon that is tough and chewy is undercooked, and the fat of the bacon did not have enough time to render down yet. Preparing bacon is a precise method that involves cooking or grilling. Never add bacon to a hot pan. Instead, add the bacon pieces to a cold pan over medium heat.
Sometimes tough and chewy bacon can be the result of buying low-quality bacon, but that is hardly ever the case. It doesn’t even make a difference if you buy cured or uncured bacon since this also has no impact on how tough or chewy your bacon is.
Let’s look at the factors that cause tough and chewy bacon and how to cook your bacon to avoid it.
How To Cook Bacon To Keep It From Getting Tough And Chewy
Many people think that because bacon is smoked, it is safe to eat it with only a few minutes of cooking (or even without cooking it).
However, this is not the case; it may not be as harmful as eating a raw piece of pork, but smoked and cured bacon doesn’t get cooked at the temperature required to kill all bacterial pathogens that can be in bacon.
There are a few methods, both in the kitchen and outside on the barbeque, to cook bacon so that it is no longer tough and chewy.
Since chewy bacon is undercooked, you should cook your bacon until the fat is perfectly rendered. This will typically take about 15 minutes, not just the quick “one minute each side because it’s already cooked” method many people use.
Another common mistake is that people add bacon to a pan that is already hot.
Because bacon is a thin slice of pork, it immediately burns in the pan. This makes it seem cooked, but it isn’t cooked through, so it’s burnt in some areas but chewy and tough in others.
Another common mistake that occurs in the kitchen is that people tend to crowd the pan with bacon. This, once again, makes it hard for the bacon to cook evenly and adequately, leaving the bacon tough, crusty, and undercooked.
We all live hectic lives and are looking for ways to get food on the table and into our stomachs much faster. And cooking bacon for 15 minutes may seem like a long time, but it’s still faster than piling the family into your car and driving to a restaurant that can prepare bacon the way it should be.
Besides, learning to cook it properly yourself will also save you money in the long run.
Best Methods For Cooking Bacon
We already established that there are a few common mistakes people make when they are cooking bacon. We will now break down the three best ways to cook bacon and get the best results that are not tough and chewy.
Crispy bacon is generally well-cooked, but if you don’t like crispy bacon, you can still achieve excellent results that don’t require your bacon to be undercooked.
On The Stovetop
Though this is not the best way to cook bacon, it does get the job done, and you still achieve the required results of not eating undercooked bacon if done correctly.
We already know by now that the pan should not be pre-heated, as this will burn and break the bacon into pieces while still being undercooked in some areas.
Place four to five pieces of bacon into your pan (while it’s still cool). You can oil the pan if you prefer, though it’s unnecessary.
The oil will not go to waste. Place the pan on your stove at medium heat, then let the bacon come to temperature and start to cook. Please do not mess with it; give it time. And no matter what happens, do not get so impatient that you turn the temperature up.
Give the bacon time to make those magical sounds in the pan. It should be ready to turn over in eight or nine minutes. Now give it the remaining seven minutes on the other side.
At this point, the fat of the bacon will be rendered down. If so, remove the bacon from the pan and place it on fresh paper towels to drain the excess fat.
Pour the remaining fat into an airtight container and place that in the fridge for use in future dishes. This is the stuff of dreams – an oil that already has flavoring to sauté your onions and add some bacon flavor.
In The Oven
Set your oven at 3750F, then place the bacon on a rack that fits a baking sheet. If you don’t like cleaning up, you may line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Again, an essential step to cooking bacon perfectly is to give each strip of bacon its personal space; do not crowd your bacon.
As before, leave the bacon in the oven for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet about eight or nine minutes into the cooking process. You probably noticed that we didn’t add oil this time because it isn’t necessary.
As the bacon’s fat renders, it will drip onto the parchment paper. Store the fat drippings in the fridge to use later for other meals that require oil.
If you are someone who would rather eat an undercooked piece of bacon just because you don’t like it crispy, then you should change your cooking method just a bit.
Rather than 15 minutes of cooking time, bring it down just slightly to 10 or 12 minutes. Don’t go less than that. This way, the bacon cooks through, so it won’t be tough and chewy. The downside is that it won’t be crispy either.
On The Grill
Cooking bacon on a barbeque is totally achievable, but the method on the grill requires some precision. Also, you should ask your butcher for thicker cuts of bacon if possible.
Your grill should be at a moderate temperature of 3250F. If you’re using charcoal, let the coals die a bit before placing your bacon on the grill.
If you are using gas to grill the bacon, you should turn the heat down as soon as you add it to the grill; take it down to a medium-low heat between 250 and 3000F.
Be careful not to expose the bacon to direct heat from your grill since direct heat will burn the bacon, leaving some bits burnt and others undercooked and chewy.
You can brush the grates with oil to keep the bacon from sticking to the grill; canola oil or olive oil works great. Cook the bacon for 10 to 12 minutes, turning it over three to four times and keeping an eye on it.
Look out for flare-ups since you do not want the bacon to burn before it is fully cooked, as this can result in tough and chewy bacon.
Though it may seem like bacon is easy to cook, an exact method is required to get the best out of this meat. It is not a food you can throw into a pan and expect some crispy and tasty meat without effort.
Just as there is a precise method for curing the bacon, there is also a reason behind how professional chefs respect the correct process of cooking bacon.
If this is your first time cooking bacon, we suggest you use the oven method. It is less messy and requires minimal attention while cooking.
Experiment with different methods and find the one that works best for you.
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