Some chefs start with a hot pan to sear meat, caramelize ingredients in a recipe or prevent fried foods from sticking to the bottom. When it comes to frying bacon, however, no preheating is necessary. Bacon cooks more evenly and yields the best flavor when the pan starts cold. Bacon requires the full attention of the cook from start to finish, ensuring that the pan and its contents never get hot enough to smoke.
Start it Cold
Starting cold instead of with a hot, preheated pan reduces the likelihood that your bacon will curl and shrink when you cook it. Add the bacon to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Coat the bottom of the pan with butter or oil if the bacon is lean. Skewer the bacon with a fork, turning it every few minutes to ensure even cooking on both sides.
As the pan heats and the bacon continues to cook, excess fat accumulates. When this begins to happen, turn the heat up to medium. If the grease begins to smoke, turn the heat back down to low or the bacon will start to burn. Remove excess fat by pouring it into a heatproof dish lined with foil. When the fat solidifies, ball up the foil and throw it in the garbage.
Easy Slice Separation
A cold pan makes it easier to separate bacon slices without ripping. If your slices are sticking together when you remove them from the packaging, place the hunk in the frying pan. As the pan gently heats, the slices slip away from each other. Once separated, arrange the slices in a single layer in the pan, transferring any extra separated slices to a clean plate for the next round of frying.
Cold Pan, Cold Water
To ensure flat slices of bacon, dip the uncooked strips in a bowl of cold water before frying. Just a quick dip is all that is necessary to prevent curling. Remove the pieces after each dip and place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess water. Place the bacon strips in the cold frying pan and cook over gentle heat. Remove the bacon when browned on both sides -- approximately 15 minutes.
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