Baked Bacon!

Alton Brown exposed many people to baking bacon via Good Eats. There seems to be some differing instructions online about time and temperature – in addition to some non-specificity on bacon thickness. Does it matter? We’ll cook some bacon in the name of science for you (you’re welcome).

At some indeterminate time in the past, and for some unrecollectable reason, Brownie Master P had the oven at 425°F and decided to bake some bacon along with whatever else he was doing (perhaps it involved brownies… who knows). It was decided that this bacon was “different” than other bacon previously made via the oven method. That brings us to the questions of “why”, “how”, and “how much bacon do we need”.

Techniques:

  • T1. Alton Brown: 400ºF for 12 to 15 minutes (from cold oven)
  • T2. Roboshark: 400ºF for 20 minutes (from cold oven)
  • T3. Our Farm Brand Package: 400ºF for 9 to 12 minutes (preheated oven)
  • T4. Roboshark: 400ºF for 20 minutes (preheated oven)
  • T5. King Arthur Flour: 350ºF for 30-40 minutes (preheated oven)

Two slices of each type of bacon per trial was placed on a rack set in a sheet pan with raised sides. Rendered fat was extracted from the pan for later use, but paper towels could be used to reduce smoking and for easy disposal. The Roboshark reference did not actually specify the state of the oven, so we tried both from a cold and preheated oven.

Materials:

Vollwerth’s Bacon (thicker slices): 1 lb (477.8g actual) , 13 slices, average 36.7g/slice
Our Farm Brand Sliced Bacon* (thinner slices): 1 lb (473.5g actual), 17 slices (+ some odd bits), average 27.8g/slice

*spoiler alert

Bacon samples. Vollwerths is our local, go-to bacon brand. Our Farm was the cheapest and most on-sale brand.

Bacon samples. Vollwerths is our local, go-to bacon brand. Our Farm was the cheapest and most on-sale brand.

Results:

Rank

Process

Tasting Notes

1 – more done  T2. 400ºF for 20 minutes (from cold oven) light crisping around edges on thick bacon, but meat portions on cheap bacon are pretty jerky-like
1 – less done  T3. 400ºF for 12 minutes (preheated oven) meatier flavors than T1, meat portions of cheap bacon are more tender than T2.
3 – crispy  T5. 350ºF for 30 minutes (preheated oven) good for crispy bacon fans, nice flavors with no burning; cheap bacon had surprising sweet notes
4  T1. 400ºF for 12 to 15 minutes (from cold oven) considered underdone, even for the floppy-bacon fans in the room, fats in cheap bacon had odd flavors
5 T4. 400ºF for 20 minutes (preheated oven) lots of burnt
Finished bacon samples. See Techniques section for details.

Finished bacon samples. See Techniques section for details.

Comments:

The top two techniques (tied for first) were partitioned based on bacon preferences (more/less done). The relatively “low and slow” method (T5) produced the best results for those seeking crispy bacon. Flavors were well developed but there was no burnt taste.

So, how does Roboshark fit into this you might wonder: from Roboshark (~7:05 from start):

Daughter: You always overdo the bacon.
Father: I do not. Twenty minutes, 400 degrees. I make perfect bacon.
Mother: [kisses father] Yes, you do make perfect bacon.

From our results, this comment is *highly* dependent on if the oven is preheated or not. Starting from a cold oven produced one of our favorites, but the preheated oven + 20 minutes = our least favorite, which while crispy, was also burnt.

Future Questions:

Our techniques used small bacon sample sizes. Does the amount of bacon cooked at once impact these results? For example, King Arthur Flour cooks an entire pound in one sheet pan. Additionally, we elevated all our samples on a cooling rack during the baking process, but King Arthur Flour placed their bacon directly on the pan – how/does that impact cooking results? Guess we’ll need to cook more bacon to find out – shucks.

Related Works:

Brown, Alton. Good Eats. “Scrap Iron Chef’s Bacon“. Jan 9, 2002.

Hamel, P.J., King Authur Flour: FlourishBakin’ the Bacon: Hands Off!” Dec 1, 2013.

Roboshark. Dir. Jefferey Lando. Syfy. 2015. Film.

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