April 6, 2021
There is nothing else quite like bacon. It has that distinctive rich, welcoming aroma when cooked, and that crispy texture and umami flavor when eaten. You find it on burgers, wrapped around asparagus and even sprinkled on caramels. Just about any recipe can be improved by adding bacon. Thick cut bacon, like Cal & Gary’s Thick Cut Bacon is having a resurgence as of late so let’s see how to incorporate this staple into your meals this week.
Thick Cut Bacon versus Regular Bacon
While there is no industry standard regulating just how thick “thick cut” bacon needs to be, a general rule is that it is about 50% thicker than regular cut bacon. This thicker cut changes the texture of the bacon to a degree, but it still maintains that classic smoky, meaty flavor. Since thick cut bacon is thicker, this means that it is harder to dry out, or dehydrate, the leaner portions of the protein. Since it is harder to dehydrate these leaner areas, thick cut bacon tends to be a bit chewier than regular bacon, and does not typically achieve that same level of crispiness we associate with more thinly cut bacon. While some could see this as a negative, this different texture gives thick cut bacon a heartiness and stability that regular cut bacon cannot.
Thick cut bacon can sometimes have a sweeter flavor than traditional bacon. While there are certainly bacon varieties out there that are sold with added sweeteners, like maple syrup, most of the sweetness you get in thick cut bacon is completely natural.
Breakfast & Bacon
The perfect weekend morning starts with bacon. There are two common ways of cooking bacon: pan frying or oven baking. For both options, you will want to take the bacon out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you start cooking so the bacon can come up to room temperature. For pan frying: lay out strips of bacon in a cold pan, without any overlapping, cook over medium heat, and turn as needed until desired crispness is achieved. Once done, remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
For oven baking: preheat the oven to 425℉ and adjust the rack to the center of the oven. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, arrange the bacon strips so that none are overlapping and bake for about 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the bacon is exposed to heat more evenly. Cook for a few minutes longer, until they have hit the desired crispiness. Remove from the over and place on paper towels to drain.
A weekend tip: go ahead and cook the entire pound of bacon. Cooked bacon can be stored in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, so you can have it on hand for weekday sandwiches and quick breakfasts. To store: alternate layers of strips of bacon with paper towels or wax paper, and store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.
One way to make bacon stand out is to candy it, and while that may sound complicated, it’s really not. Candied bacon merely adds a sweet drizzle like maple syrup or even cola onto the bacon while it cooks. It pairs well with eggs and is a hit beside French toast, so be sure to check out our Cal & Gary’s Candied Bacon-Topped French Toast with Vanilla Yogurt and Berries.
Dinner & Bacon
Bacon does not always come to mind when we think of dinner, but there are plenty of ways it can be incorporated. Thick cut bacon stands up well when mixed with other ingredients, maintaining its shape and texture, this quality makes it a perfect match for casseroles and pastas, like this Crispy Bacon and Parmesan Cream Sauce over Linguini Pasta. You can also use leftover thick cut bacon to top baked macaroni and cheese, and we’ll show you just how to create the perfect version in our recipe for the Ultimate Mac & Cheese with Bacon.
Bacon is a highly versatile meat which can be cooked ahead, safely stored for days, and used as part of nearly any meal. While regular cut bacon offers that perfect snap from crispness, thick cut bacon is hearty and substantial, making it the perfect option for sandwiches, pastas, and, really, any meal where you want bacon to stand out. So treat yourself this week and buy some thick cut bacon for fast, family-friendly and feast-worth meals.
Ultimate Mac & Cheese With Bacon
1 lb elbow macaroni (about 2 cups dry pasta)
4-6 slices Cal & Gary's thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
3-4 cups grated cheddar, gouda or a combination
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup Founders & Farmers freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tbsp butter, melted
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet or medium saucepan, cook the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp and the onions are starting to turn golden. Drain any excess fat and add the mixture to the pasta.
3. Return the empty pan to the heat and add the butter. When the foam subsides, add the flour and stir, cooking, for a minute.
4. Gradually whisk in about a cup of the milk, whisk until smooth, and then add the remaining milk.
5. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a boil; let it simmer gently for a minute or two, stirring constantly.
6. Stir in the cheese, remove from the heat and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and bacon and stir everything together. Pour into a baking dish that will accommodate it.
8. Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the bread to crumbs; add the Parmesan and butter and pulse to blend until well blended and moist.
9. Scatter over the mac & cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and golden on top.
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