I look at three more techniques in this article (using a fourth cooking method, low heat pan frying, as a control): Microwaving with a Makin' Bacon dish, grilling, and slow baking.
Method 1: Microwaving with a Makin' Bacon dish
There are many specialty dishes designed for microwaving bacon. Some are simply plastic plates with grooves cut in them to catch grease. This one, the Makin' Bacon dish (about $10), elevates the bacon on poles. As many as a eighteen strips of bacon (according to the manufacturer), can be cooked at a time on this apparatus (although I think my bacon must be wider than their bacon because only a dozen of my strips would fit).
Following the instructions on the Makin' Bacon box, I covered the bacon with a paper towel to reduce potential splatter.
I then microwaved it on high for 90 seconds. The bacon at the top (where it bends over the beam, was thoroughly cooked (almost overcooked). However, some of the fatty parts were still soft and partially unrendered. The texture of the bacon was thick and crunchy (similar to the microwaved bacon from the first test). There was also a slight off flavor to the bacon indicative of heating the bacon to too high of a temperature. It is definitely a very fast way to cook and with the Makin Bacon dish, a reasonable number of pieces can be cooked at the same time.
As advertised, the bacon grease dripped down into the plastic container. The instructions recommend pouring out the bacon grease but why waste a good thing? After the grease cools, simply spoon it out into a storage container and store in the refrigerator. The grease collected was fairly clean with some small pieces of bacon in it.
Method 2: Grilling
I prepared a grill with low heat (about 300-350 degrees) and laid out the bacon onto the cooking surface.
Flipping the bacon every five minutes, they reached doneness in twenty minutes time.
With this method, the meaty portions were chewy (but not overly so) while the fat was light and crisp. There were also no off flavors to the bacon. Because of the texture and flavor, this was Tina's favorite cooking method.
Because the bacon grease dripped down into the grill, there was no grease to collect and save afterward; there was also no clean up required. Depending on the size of your grill, you can cook a great deal of bacon at once.
Method 3: Baking at low temperatures
I seemed to have lost the pictures that accompanied this baking technique - but their not much to look at anyway, it's just an oven.
I laid out strips of bacon onto a wire rack and positioned a wire rack on a foil lined half sheet pan. I placed the pan in an oven preheated to 200°F (93°C) and waited. The theory was that the low heat would penetrate the bacon slowly and as the bacon cooked the fat would render, but without increasing the bacon temperature to a level where the preserving agents of cured meat begin to react and form new compounds producing an off taste (and potentially carcinogenic substances - but more chemicals such as ascorbic acid or erythorbic acid are added these days to help mitigate these effects).
Unfortunately, I do not know how long the bacon was in the oven because I forgot to look at the time and fell asleep. My best estimate is that the bacon baked for about 3 hours.
The baking resulted in extremely straight pieces of bacon that I found to have exceptional taste and flavor as compared to the pan frying and grilling (the microwaved bacon's off taste was really apparent next to the baked bacon). The texture was crispy throughout. Since flavor and texture were great, this is my favorite cooking method. (Tina prefers a little chewier meat and still likes the grilled method the best.)
The long cooking time means this method is best for cooking bacon in large quantities (multiple pans) and then bagging and refrigerating them for future use. The bacon grease collected from the half sheet pan was pure white and completely devoid of charred bits.
Method 4: Pan frying
As a control, I cooked the bacon in the same way as the "winning" method from the first bacon test - pan frying. I placed three strips of bacon in a cold pan and placed it over low heat.
After fifteen minutes of cooking while turning the bacon occasionally, the bacon was done. The bacon was light and crispy with a little chewiness to the meat. The grilled method's results came closest to this bacon. The bacon grease remaining in the pan had a pale gray-brown color and was spotted with charred bits and pieces of bacon.
If you're in a rush, microwaving works - but for the best flavor and texture either grill or bake (in advance). If you own a propane grill, cooking bacon over the grill is easier and more convenient than doing it on a stove top. However, if you don't mind spending the time, baking produces the best results with pure bacon grease for use later (may I suggest clam chowder?).