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Dozens of ways to cook and serve bacon

By SARAH FARMER
TASTE OF HOME
This year, my husband was gifted a sampler box of his favorite food — bacon. So we’ve been noshing on the crispy snack often, both as a side for brunch and on BLTs for dinner. There are dozens of ways to serve bacon and nearly as many ways to prep it. Our Test Kitchen tried 15 cooking techniques to find the best one.
We cooked bacon to three textures in five different vessels. The three desired textures were chewy, crisp-chewy and crisp. The five vessels were cast-iron and nonstick skillets (cooked on the stove), sheet pan and baking rack on a sheet pan (cooked in the oven), and microwave-safe dish (cooked in the microwave).
Here’s what we found. The cast-iron method is fast and keeps the skillet seasoned. The sheet pan and the rack on a sheet pan take longer, but you can cook more at once and cleanup is easier. And it’s impossible to get bacon crispy in the microwave.
In sum, the “best” cooking method is really personal preference.
GRILLED CHEESE, BACON,
OVEN-DRIED TOMATO SANDWICH
INGREDIENTS
6 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
8 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely shredded Manchego or Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed, sliced
OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES
CRISPY FRIED ONION RINGS
EASY GLAZED BACON
DIRECTIONS
Spread 3 tablespoons butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place bread, butter side down, in a large skillet or electric griddle over medium-low heat until golden brown, 2-3 minutes; remove. In a small bowl, combine cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gruyere. In another bowl, mix together remaining 3 tablespoons butter, mayonnaise, Manchego cheese and onion powder.
To assemble sandwiches, top toasted side of 4 bread slices with sliced brie and tomatoes. Sprinkle a portion of the cheddar cheese mixture evenly over brie; add fried onion rings. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese mixture and add bacon; top with remaining bread slices, toasted side facing inwards. Spread the butter-mayonnaise mixture on the outsides of each sandwich. Place in same skillet and cook until golden brown and cheese is melted, 5-6 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.
ROAST TOMATOES
Cut tomatoes into 1/2-in. slices. Brush with oil; sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt.
Place on racks coated with cooking spray in foil-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until tomatoes start to turn dark brown around edges and are shriveled. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
CRISPY FRIED ONION RINGS
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
Oil for deep-fat frying
In a shallow bowl, whisk the first five ingredients. Separate onion slices into rings. Dip rings into batter. In a deep-fat fryer, heat 1 in. of oil to 375°. In batches, fry onion rings until golden brown, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
EASY GLAZED BACON
INGREDIENTS
1 pound sliced bacon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine or unsweetened apple juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350°. Place bacon on a rack in an ungreased 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake 10 minutes; drain.
Combine brown sugar, wine and mustard; drizzle half over bacon. Bake 10 minutes. Turn bacon and drizzle with remaining glaze. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Place bacon on waxed paper until set. Serve warm
BACON CREAM-CHEESE PINWHEELS
INGREDIENTS
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon 2% milk
1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
5 bacon strips, cooked and finely chopped
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, onion and milk until blended. On a lightly floured surface, unroll crescent dough into one long rectangle; press perforations to seal. Spread with cream cheese mixture; sprinkle with bacon. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Using a serrated knife, cut roll crosswise into 24 (1/2-inch) slices. Place on ungreased baking sheets, cut side down.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate leftovers.
BACON CHEESEBURGER SLIDER BAKE
INGREDIENTS
2 packages (17 ounces each ) Hawaiian sweet rolls
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
24 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
GLAZE:
1 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. Without separating rolls, cut each package of rolls horizontally in half; arrange bottom halves in 2 greased 13×9-in. baking pans. Sprinkle each pan of rolls with 1 cup cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, 3-5 minutes.
In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, breaking up beef into crumbles, 6-8 minutes; drain. Stir in tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until combined, 1-2 minutes.
Spoon beef mixture evenly over rolls; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Top with bacon. Replace tops. For glaze, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Microwave, covered, on high until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over rolls; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown and heated through, 20-25 minutes.
Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked sandwiches; prepare and freeze glaze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Pour glaze over buns and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake sandwiches as directed, increasing time by 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°.
BACON-POTATO CORN CHOWDER
INGREDIENTS
1/2 pound bacon strips, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cubed
1 can (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
DIRECTIONS
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings, reserving 1-1/2 teaspoons in pan. Add onion to drippings; cook and stir over medium-high heat until tender.
Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup potato water.
Add corn, milk, salt, pepper, potatoes and reserved potato water to saucepan; heat through. Stir in bacon and onion.
(Sarah Farmer is Taste of Home Culinary Director)