An absolutely genius trick for mess-free bacon

Do you shy away from bacon because of the mess?

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published January 26, 2023 4:30PM (EST)

Bacon (Getty Images/Mike Kemp)
Bacon (Getty Images/Mike Kemp)

Are you someone who goes hog wild for bacon?

Though you may have your own opinion about the most delicious way to make it, bacon's versatility and popularity are both undeniable. Bacon can be enjoyed on its own at breakfast or as a topping at lunch, sending classics like burgers and sandwiches soaring to new heights. During the "bacon mania" of the 2010s, bacon wasn't limited to the plate. Apparently, bacon can also elevate candlesdesserts, perfumes, T-shirts and more.

And while there may be differing thoughts on whether to season and spice up bacon, one thing about this iconic food holds true, no matter if it's made from pork, beef or plants. After you cook bacon, the clean-up job can be a little tricky.

Bacon fat is a terrific "liquid gold" to hang on to (and coat roasted potatoes with or use as a base for this salmon chowder), but it can be a real nuisance if it isn't handled properly or disposed of correctly. Luckily, I know an absolutely genius trick for mess-free bacon.

As I wrote in a recent article, I'm a proponent of lacquering bacon with the sweet-and-savory combo of maple syrup and white miso, which is the perfect complement to its salty, pork-y, smoky essence. Doing so can result in a bit of a messy sheet pan or baking sheet. However, if you use a silicon baking mat, parchment paper or foil, you can tamp down on the mess.

Don't have any of these kitchen tools handy? No problem. Immediately after pulling your bacon out of the oven, allow it sit and cool for about five minutes. Using a fork or spatula, transfer it off the sheet, leaving the bacon grease and miso-and-maple remnants on your sheet tray. Wait another five to 10 minutes, or until it begins to slightly solidify, then immediately transfer to a glass or Mason jar.

I'm a proponent of lacquering bacon with the sweet-and-savory combo of maple syrup and white miso, which is the perfect complement to its salty, pork-y, smoky essence.

From there, add hot soap and water to the sheet pan — and you're good to go. You can dispose of the solids when they're fully solidified, or conversely, use the maple-and-miso flavored bacon fat as a cooking fat. (Just be sure not to pour it down the sink.)

Be mindful that without a little care, the maple and miso coating might burn when you recook it. If you're not a fan of extra seasonings, and you've simply made nothing but bacon in your sheet pan, feel free to use the leftover fat as you wish. Pure bacon fat is much more easily usable than bacon fat with maple or miso remnants.

Another idea would be to take a sheet tray, line it with parchment and place a rack on top, where you'll lay the bacon. Washing the wire rack is a bit trickier, but the sheet tray itself will benefit from a super-easy cleanup. Simply throw out the parchment, and you're all set. This also helps ensure that your bacon is as "'lean" as it can be (is that an oxymoron?), as the bulk of the fat will drip through and wind up on the parchment-lined sheet tray instead of your plate.

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One very important note: Do not drain your bacon on napkins, paper towels and/or paper plates. I made this mistake a few times back in the day, and it's laborious and unpleasant, resulting in crispy, delicious bacon being hamstrung by pieces of paper towel that feel impossible to remove.

Avoid this mistake altogether by "draining" your bacon on a wire rack affixed atop a sheet tray or simply letting it cool on a glass or ceramic plate. From there, "dab" the bacon ever so slightly with a rolled-up paper towel to pick up and remove any extraneous fat or grease.

Now, you can have crisp, super-flavorful bacon that is well-cooked, a sheet rack that won't intimidate you as it sits in the sink waiting for a wash, as well as a tidy oven. Depending on how you proceed with the solidified bacon fat, there may also be an outrageously delicious dip, soup or pasta on the horizon later in the evening. After all, it always feels good to set yourself up for success in the kitchen.

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By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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