Like most, I used to cook bacon on the stovetop in a fry pan or cast iron skillet. Which meant, I was glued to the bacon for a good 10-15 minutes, constantly flipping and rotating to ensure a consistent cook. And to be perfectly honest, most times I was attempting to multitask— placing the bacon in the pan and escaping off to blow dry my hair leaving it fully unattended. Often, once I raced back to the kitchen the bacon was either burnt or partially stuck to the pan— resulting in some nice bacon bits, but shitty strips.
Finally, I discovered the simplest solution. Oven-cooked bacon. Yep— it’s that easy. Cooking bacon in the oven not only allows you to multitask, it also comes out perfect every. single. time.
Let’s Talk Pork
Before we get to the recipe, you should know that the quality of the pork is directly tied to the taste and texture of your bacon. Which means, high-quality, sustainably sourced bacon is going to taste exceptionally better than cheap, factory-farmed alternatives. Beyond the flavor, factory-farmed bacon is classified as processed meat, and processed meat such as hot dogs, salami and bacon has been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization (sorry dirty keto lovers). The leading theory is that added nitrates in meat produce cancer-causing nitrosamines within the body.
In response to legitimate concern over nitrates, bacon manufacturers began producing “all-natural” varieties free from added nitrates or nitrites. Instead, they use curing agents like celery powder to achieve the same effect. But the thing is, celery powder is naturally high in nitrates, so labeling the bacon as “uncured” or with “no nitrates or nitrites added” is a little misleading.
The bottom line: Conventional bacon, nitrate-free or not, is dangerous for your health.
How to Select High-Quality Pork
To ensure you’re doing right by your body (and the animal), you’ll need to pay attention to packaging labels. The following is a list of labels to look out for when purchasing pork.
In the U.S. it’s actually illegal to use hormones in the production of chickens or pork. So when you see pork labeled as “Hormone Free,” that basically means the company is complying with U.S. law. What’s more, the reason for this legislative action has little to do with health and more to do with effectiveness. Hormones are not as effective at causing rapid weight-gain in pigs and chickens as antibiotics are.
Antibiotics wreak havoc on our gut microbiota. And our gut microbiota influences essential human functions including digestion, energy metabolism, and inflammation response.
The problem with “Antibiotic Free” labels is that they’re fully loaded, and largely unregulated. Meaning producers must send documentation to the USDA to support their claims, but there are no mandated inspections. And considering the statistics, I think it’s safe to assume that few are holding true to their word.
“Some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to animals—not people—in their feed or water, mostly to promote growth and/or prevent disease,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “And that’s a major contributor to the public health threat of antibiotic resistance, which is when the bacteria that cause infections become resistant to the effects of the drugs designed to kill them.”
The bottom line: Pay extra for organic. Organic ensures inspected antibiotic-free meat.
Organic pork is a good place to start considering routine antibiotic use is prohibited. However, keep in mind that an organic label tells us nothing about animal welfare or additional “natural” additives such as sugar or MSG.
Food labeled “organic” cannot legitimately contain monosodium glutamate, but can contain other ingredients that contain MSG. For instance, natural pork flavoring, sodium caseinate and citric acid are ingredients that commonly lurk in pork products— all of which generally contain MSG.
Certified Humane is an even better choice than organic. Certified Humane ensures continuous outdoor access for ruminants. Although, outdoor access is not required for birds and pigs, unless the words “free-range” or “pasture” also appear on the packages. What’s more, Certified Humane prohibits cage confinement, hormones, and subtherapeutic antibiotics. Certified Humane represents a significant improvement over conventional standards.
Animal Welfare Approved
Currently, the “Animal Welfare Approved” label is as good as it gets. Under this seal, animals are ensured continuous access to pasture or range, which means, there are no feedlots. What’s more, Animal Welfare Approved prohibits cage confinement, hormones, and subtherapeutic (preventative or growth-promoting) antibiotics. Even better, these standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter. And just to be sure the farm is in compliance, every Animal Welfare Approved farm is subject to audit.
How to Cook Bacon
First, preheat your oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, lay bacon strips on an ungreased baking pan. Be sure to leave a bit of space between each slice, this will allow the bacon to cook evenly. Once the oven is to temp, pop that pan in the oven, set a timer (time will depend on your desired level of crispiness), and walk away.
I told you this was going to be easy.
How Long Should You Cook the Bacon?
|Cook Time||Taste Results|
|10 Minutes||Fat may not be fully rendered, making it either a bit chewy or possibly soggy. Not my favorite style— but to each their own.|
|16 Minutes||Excellent balance of crispy protein with melt-in-your-mouth fat. My personal favorite!|
|23 Minutes||Perfectly crisp. Not burnt. Makes the best bacon bits!|
What To Do With the Grease
Save it! Just like yo Gramma used to do.
If you did your due diligence and purchased high-quality pork, then that grease is actually a great source of healthy dietary fat! I generally pour the grease in a mason jar and place it in the fridge. Although bacon grease doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it will save longer if you do.
I use leftover bacon grease to cook everything from steak and eggs to sautéed vegetables. This is a great way to save yourself a buck while maximizing your healthy fat consumption on keto.
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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Katie Rodriguez nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.