Remember back in grade school when we learned about synonyms, antonyms and homonyms? You may recall that a homonym is one of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning.
Take bacon, for example. Bacon is that incredibly tasty pork product used in sandwiches, as a faithful sidekick to eggs, and a flavoring agent in myriad savory recipes.
Bakin’, on the other hand, is what your skin does in the sun and what your food does in the oven.
Grammar Nazis, stand down! We all know that the correct term is “baking,” but I’m exercising a little creative license here.
These two words have completely different meanings, but I have found that when you combine the two, you’ve got a really easy, less-messy way to cook bacon for a crowd, or in this case, to feed the Big Man.
“What should we have for dinner?” I asked.
“BLTs,” responded the Big Man.
“I’m not getting grease all over my brand new stove!” I exclaimed.
When we remodeled our kitchen I bought a lovely, stainless steel, gas stove with a black enamel top. That enamel is difficult to keep shiny and clean. Frying bacon in a pan makes for a LOT of grease splatters and, therefore, a LOT of cleaning up afterward.
But his idea was a good one. What’s not to love about a good, old BLT?
In the summer I sometimes make bacon on the grill using an old cookie sheet placed right on the grates of our gas grill. This enables me to cook at least an entire pound of bacon at one time. It also reduces the tendency for my house to smell like Eau de Bacon afterward. I was not keen on standing around outside to tend to the bacon in 30-degree weather, however, so I decided to try baking it instead.
The concept is really simple and produces perfectly crisp slices without the messy stovetop.
Since making BLTs for the Big Man calls for lots and lots of bacon, I started with two large foil roasting pans. Into each I placed a cooling rack that sat about ½ inch off the bottom of the tray. Unlike frying it on the stove, the bacon does not cook in its own grease because the grease falls under the trays.
I lined the strips of bacon up on each of the racks so that each strip was overlapping the one next to it. There was really no special reason for this arrangement except that I needed to fit a lot of bacon onto each rack—the Big Man usually eats at least 5 sandwiches and snacks on the remaining bacon throughout the evening.
Into the oven the strips went to bake at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.
The temperature and length of time will depend on your oven. We like our bacon crispy in the Chick house, so I baked it until the strips were well cooked but not burnt. The strips tend to firm up even more after you remove them from the oven.
Afterward you still have to clean up the roasting pans and racks, but to me that’s easier than playing seek and destroy with all the grease splatters on my stovetop.
The next time you’re thinking of makin’ some bacon, try bakin’ it instead.
Chickaliciousness: 4 for less mess and crispy strips