Homemade, flavored bacon is well worth the work

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

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Bacon is such a flavorful food. One piece of bacon can go a long way.

The cut of meat from pork that is used to make bacon comes from the side or belly of a pig. Next, the meat is cured and smoked to become bacon.

The abundance of fat gives bacon its sweet flavor and tender crispiness. The salt helps, too.

Bacon is typically sold in slices. If you visit a local meat market, you will often see bacon in its slab form, and you can have it sliced at the thickness you want. To me, bacon from our local meat markets has more flavor than pre-packaged slices.

There are a variety of ways to cook bacon. There is pan frying, but even with a splatter control cover for the skillet, it makes a mess. There’s also broiling, which is when the bacon is placed on the broiler pan or a jelly roll pan, turning the slices at least once.

To me, baking bacon is the best and easiest way to cook it. I preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a cast iron skillet in the oven. After a few minutes, I lay the slices in the skillet and bake for 10 minutes and then turn, the length of time depends on how thick the bacon is and how crisp you like your bacon. You can also use a roasting rack in the skillet or the roasting rack in a glass pan or a jelly roll pan.

Recently, I was at a restaurant that boasts local food and one of its specialty sandwiches was a bacon lettuce tomato sandwich. The bacon was candied. It was tasty, but there was not much on the sandwich. So I wanted to figure how I could make the flavored bacon at home.

I have red hot cinnamon syrup that I make from melting Red Hots and a little maple syrup. I spread the bacon out in a plastic bag and drizzled the syrup mixture over the bacon. I also added some cracked pepper. After letting the bag sit in the refrigerator for a day, I baked it in the cast iron skillet. The flavor was definitely worth the work.

You can purchase flavored bacon that might have been smoked with hickory or maple or had flavoring added to it somehow, but I encourage you to create your own flavor combination and try creating some flavored bacon of your own. The effort and time will create some great flavor.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.
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