Deep-fried bacon

In lard, of course. Bacon and lard – two ingredients that are demonised (and needlessly so). Previously, I suggested that bacon does not deserve its reputation. More recently, I have argued that we could be healthier if we ate more animal fat (our heritage fats). So, it makes sense to put the two together, especially as, in this case, they come from the same animal. Even so, it is not a common method (in fact, I have never seen it proposed).

The procedure 

1. First, render your own lard. See here.

2. At room temperature the lard will be liquid, if it was refrigerated (and solid) then melt it gently. Use enough to cover the bacon pieces and to allow for the bacon to pucker during cooking and still stay comfortably submerged.

3. Heat both together at a slow-moderate rate. The reason? Modern bacon, unlike artisan bacon, is wet. It is brined (salted) for flavour and probably to add weight (in water) at point-of-sale. Wet bacon in hot fat will splatter badly. The purpose of heating it slowly is to boil out excess water as the oil heats to 100C.

4. If necessary, hold the temperature a little above 100C until bubbling subsides a bit, indicating that excess water has been vaporised, then increase the heat to crisp.

5. As the fat gets to around 150-160C, there could be additional spluttering. This is because some water is still trapped in the bacon but can escape when vapour pressure is high enough. I usually stop at this point. If you are using induction heating, then a paper towel draped over the pot is effective at intercepting splutters while allowing steam to escape. A lid will condense the steam and it will drop back into the fat and increase spluttering.

What are possible advantages of deep-frying over pan-frying?

1. Bacon puckers as it cooks. When deep-fried this doesn’t matter because the entire surface remains in contact with hot fat. In a pan, it results in uneven cooking because some of the bacon is not in direct contact with the heat source. I find this annoying. My previous work-around was to sandwich the bacon between two baking sheets and cook in the oven. It works nicely, but it is a bit of a bother, and it is difficult to know when the bacon is done without messing around with the pans. It can go from done to burnt in a remarkably short time.

2. As the fat is heating and the water vaporising, some of the bacon fat renders into the lard. By repeatedly using the same lard for deep-frying bacon, it can become imbued with bacon flavour and be useful for other purposes.

3. If fat is rendered out of the bacon as it heats, the bacon can end up lower in fat when deep-fried compared to pan-fried. This might seem counter-intuitive. Deep-fried food can be less fatty that shallow-fried food.

4. With both methods, fat mostly clings to the surface of the bacon. After a brief pat with paper towel, the deep-fried version should have no more surface fat than the pan-fried version.

5. See point 3. This is not the purpose of the exercise. Compensate for this unfortunate turn of events by cooking yourself some extra pieces.

6. Enjoy without guilt – our heritage fats are food. Refined vegetable oils are not.

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The eggs had been cooked sous vide (in their shells; 75C; 13m) in bulk, cooled and refrigerated a few days earlier. At breakfast they were warmed in hot tap water and briefly pan-fried in butter to crisp. The bacon, of course, was deep-fried in lard. Plated with a token serving of plant matter.


Pre-cooking bacon sprinkles (handy flavour-enhancers):

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