At Cook’s Illustrated we appreciate the beauty of bacon with a crispy and tender bite, rather than its being burned to a crisp. What innovative method ensures this perfect texture? We cook the bacon in water in a skillet.
Why? The addition of water keeps the initial cooking temperature low and gentle, so the meat retains its moisture and stays tender. By the time the water reaches its boiling point (212 degrees), the bacon fat is almost completely rendered, so you’re also much less likely to burn the meat while waiting for the fat to cook off.
How to Make Perfect Bacon
Place the bacon (in strips or cut into pieces) and just enough water to cover it in a skillet over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium. Once all of the water has simmered away, turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the bacon is crisp and well browned. This way, the meat plumps up as it cooks instead of shriveling, leaving the bacon pleasantly crisp, not tough or brittle.
While we certainly enjoy eating bacon simply on its own, we also love cooking with it as an ingredient. Here are three editors' picks to try at home.
RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Potato Casserole with Bacon and Caramelized Onion
In the old days, this casserole was baked beneath a roast, which allowed the potatoes to be seasoned by the savory fat and juices that dripped from the meat above. To get the same luxurious results without the roast, we turned to bacon, which lends the dish a meaty flavor with a hint of smokiness.
RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Pasta with Cauliflower and Bacon
Pasta, nutty cauliflower, meaty bacon, and crispy bread crumbs are a wonderful, well-balanced combination in this restaurant favorite.
RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon Topping
Finishing sweet potatoes with a toasted topping of large bread crumbs and bacon provides a crunchy counterpoint perfectly suited to this low-starch spud.