7 Bacon Myths Debunked

 

 

Photo Credit and Caption, Mark Oliver, contributor to Listverse, 2017: “The Norse knew that no religion was complete without divine bacon. After all, they couldn’t worship gods who settled for the garbage we mortals eat. The gods needed divine food—and that’s where Saehrimnir comes in. Saehrimnir is the best-tasting pig in the universe…”


Once upon a time…

When the Greeks…

In a land far far away…

You may have heard...

A long long time ago...

And so goes the lead into many a mythical tale.

Myths are fascinating for sure. Folklore grabs our attention and entertains us. And, let’s face it, we’ve all been captivated or even persuaded, at some point or another, by a myth. Fortunately, we're here to clear up some commonly-held mythical stories about bacon.

Myth #1: You can’t cook bacon on a grill because the rendered fat will cause flares or fires.

Au Contraire...or, in less fancy terms: NOT SO! Thanks to the smoking process, bacon is an already cooked meat, brimming with flavor and smoke, so all you really need from the grill is to sear the surface for deeper flavor and a bit of crisping (as we'll learn more about from Myth #2 LOL). When done properly, your bacon will be done before it is rendering enough fat to cause flare ups. The goal here is to get it done quickly, and as with any meat grilling, clean your grates and drip pan after to avoid grease buildup. So, get ready to bust this myth and thrill your grill. Just follow our method below. We've found it’s perfect for all manner of bacon-wrapped delicacies, XXL bacon steaks, BBQ bacon ends, and even our new smoked bacon sausage. 

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat
  2. Optional: Brush with your favorite sauce
  3. Lay bacon sauce-side down onto the preheated grill and sauce second side
  4. Once you see grill lines flip and grill opposite side
  5. For BBQ Bacon Ends: Thread onto metal or soaked wooden skewers,  lay directly on medium-hot grates and grill until you’ve got good grill lines

Myth #2: Meats should be seared to lock in the juices.

This is The Baconer’s #1 pet peeve when it comes to grilling myths. While searing meat is always a good idea and exponentially boosts the YUM factor, it absolutely does not lock in juices, in fact it results in moisture loss....but in a good way :-) 

Someone somewhere along the way came up with the idea that searing a piece of meat will somehow create a hard crust on the outside and seal in juices, thereby making for a juicier end result. Anyone who has actually watched meat on a grill knows perfectly well that there are all kinds of fats and juices dripping out of any kind of meat on a grill. Here's what's actually happening when you sear meat:

First, the all-important “Maillard Reaction”. That's the technical term for when meat is seared and turns from rosey pink to brown. It's a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars in the meat triggered by higher temperatures, and the result is the rich caramelized flavor we’ve all come to love and crave on any piece of meat. 

Second, when searing meat, we are causing moisture loss, but in a controlled way. Overcook any meat and it will turn leathery and inedible. But some moisture loss is good, because as water evaporates out, the remaining flavors become more concentrated, resulting in a super flavorful and satisfying meal.

Myth #3: You should throw out your bacon fat.

If you’re like us, you love bacon in ALL its forms, including rendered bacon fat, which we consider a precious culinary treasure to be hoarded and savored at every opportunity! The irony is that most home cooks make plenty of bacon fat when frying up strips for breakfast or BLTs, but rather than saving this highly versatile secret ingredient, they toss it out as waste. NEVER AGAIN! 

When it comes to adding rich smoky flavor to our favorite dishes, there's nothing better than using bacon fat or bacon butter. Bacon rendering is liquid gold to chefs, cooks and pretty much anyone who fully understands the glorious meat that is bacon. We not only have our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and other great greats who’ve cooked with bacon fat throughout the ages to prove this myth is, in fact, a fallacy, but we’ve also dedicated a whole blog post to espousing the benefits of this precious culinary treasure.(Read more here: Saving, Storing & Cooking with Bacon Fat). 

Myth #4: Bacon—it's just for breakfast! 

These days, bacon is an ingredient that appears in mealtimes throughout the day as well as dishes ranging from ramen and paella to bloody mary’s and ice cream. It’s great as a main, a side dish, even as a topping (just ask our favorite NorCal baker who incorporates ground bacon into her crumble for her delicious blueberry pie). Bacon is an easy and tasty way to enhance the flavors of recipes shared at any time of the day. 

And, for those who may be reducing their meat intake but want to keep some meat in their diets and dishes, premium-quality bacon is the best way to go! Why? Because a little does go a long way. Bacon crafted from heritage-breed, thoughtfully-raised and responsibly-sourced pork is rich and filled with flavor. A 3-4 oz bacon steak definitely satisfies cravings over a huge ribeye. A handful of lardons in place of croutons in a Ceasar salad offers a tasty substitute. And, as noted earlier, you should always reserve bacon fat or renderings to add a little something to lots of dishes, such as sautéed brussel sprouts. This infusion of flavor quickly scratches the "yummy in your tummy" itch. So, a bit of well-sourced, high-quality bacon in most dishes at any meal and in moderation is what we’ve found to be key.

 

Myth #5: Uncured bacon is free of nitrates.

“Uncured” bacon has become popular, but its name is misleading as it is indeed a fully cured product. “Uncured” bacon is cured using exactly the same stuff — nitrite — used in regular bacon. The difference is that with  the “uncured” meats, the nitrite is added in the form of a juice or powder from a vegetable naturally high in nitrate—usually celery but there are others (did you know spinach is loaded with nitrates?). This naturally-derived nitrate converts to nitrite during the meat curing process, resulting in cured meats that taste just like their traditionally cured counterparts, because they ARE just the same. Traditionally cured meats are made with synthetic nitrite, but at the end of the day, put both molecules under a microscope and you’ll find they are the same, no matter the source. Processors call celery cured meats “Uncured” because the USDA considers celery an inconsistent source of nitrate, and therefore not a proper cure. 

Here at The Baconer we make both traditionally cured and “uncured” bacon, because while some bacon lovers want a time-honored product made the old-fashioned way, others want something that is 100% naturally derived. We love both!   

Myth #6: Bacon doesn’t travel well.

Ok, come on. We know for a fact (and the Smithsonian and NASA can confirm!), that bacon was part of module meal A, the first scheduled meal to be eaten on the Moon! We don't know if it's just our particular sense of humor, but we find that some of the things that make up bacon myths are hilarious. According to the Smithsonian:

“[B]acon cubes were among the meals stored in the lunar module. And it worked out that meal A, the first scheduled meal to be eaten on the Moon, consisted of bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, pineapple grapefruit drink and coffee. They ate history’s first meal on the Moon slightly ahead of schedule after landing at the Sea of Tranquility.”

We know it’s been quite a year with the pandemic and the lockdown, so we’re sure many of you are ready to get on the road or take to the friendly skies. In our June 2021 blog post on “Bacon on the Go,” we’ll share our favorite recipes and cooking tips from our own road trips, flights, RV, and camping adventures. For now, if you are traveling in a motorhome that has a freezer unit or even a fridge, you can store your bacon there. If traveling by car or plane, we suggest packing a cooler with freezer/ice packs while in transit. Know that if your bacon thaws a bit, this is 100% normal and you can refrigerate when you are parked, and even refreeze without any damage to quality.  Bon Voyage!

Myth #7: It doesn’t matter how you cook bacon.

As artisan bacon crafters, we’ve seen quite a few “interesting,” creative and downright wacky ways that people cook bacon. There are numerous YouTube and Tik Tok videos of people cooking bacon and eggs inside their car, on the hood of an SUV, and even on the flatbed of a truck during a heatwave! Most recently, Associated Press reported that among the throngs of tourists who trekked to see the eruption of a long-dormant volcano in southwestern Iceland, one tried to cook bacon and eggs on the lava but their pan melted in the heat. (Source: AP, MAR 25, 2021).  But, we’re here to tell you that “METHOD MATTERS!” 

We’ve heard it said “there’s no such thing as bad bacon”. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only are there lots of low-quality bacon out there, but even high-quality, well-crafted bacon needs to be cooked properly to achieve its full scandalously-delicious potential.  When we first launched The Baconer, we kept our cooking secrets under wraps—KIDDING!—we shared our tips with anyone who would listen because even spectacular artisan bacon can be ruined by poor cooking technique. So, we posted a gentle reminder for bacon enthusiasts everywhere about our completely successful albeit counterintuitive methods of cooking bacon. Go bust this myth (and help us reach #1 on the New York Times’ Bestseller list :) with “25 Different Ways to Cook: How to Achieve Bacon Perfection.”

It is our hope that in this myth-busting blog journey, you’ve arrived at the same conclusion we’ve always known: bacon is the stuff legends are made of, but there are some inaccuracies out there. Bacon truly is one of the most beloved and delicious foods in the known universe. PERIOD. There’s really nothing better than bacon. I mean, come on, who can resist the amazing taste, versatility and joy of bacon? Build bacon into your life! You don’t need to go to confession or feel guilty—just enjoy it in moderation, at any meal you want, even on the go!. When you choose bacon, always go for high-quality, responsibly-sourced, heritage breed pork, and, for goodness sake, always resist the temptation to toss the bacon renderings.