Just a collection of our thoughts and memories that we do not want to lose. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we enjoy writing them!
To provide a little context to this first blog story, my son, Scotty and I went to culinary school together, along with our great friend and Scotty’s Pub manager, Quinton Turner. We had the great fortune of learning under one of the best chefs ever, Christy Sykes at Houston Community College. We all love cooking together, still!, But, because I live in Michigan, we do not get to do that very often. One of the trips Scotty made to the Detroit area, we smoked an American Wagyu brisket and then finished it with a Sweet Fig BBQ Sauce collaboration. Some would say that it was the combination of the home-made sauce and the high quality of the meat that completed this prize worthy brisket, but, after a little thought, I believe it was the time I was able to spend cooking again with my son, and then sharing it with our family that made this dinner taste so much better!
To continue sharing the joy of this meal, I am passing on this recipe to you. I hope you consider cooking and sharing it with those closest to you!
- 1¼ cup Ketchup
- ¾ cup Brown Sugar
- 2 oz Fig preserves or whole figs (cored and minced)
- ¼ cup Molasses
- ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ cup Water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 2½ tsp Ground Mustard
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1½ tsp Sea Salt
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch slurry (2 tbsp Cornstarch/2 tbsp Water)
Mix Wet Items to a pot and bring to a simmer. Add dry ingredients and continue to simmer and adjust seasoning to taste. Thicken as desired with the cornstarch slurry. Schmear on meat, eat…
The Cliché all over social media is that that bacon makes everything better. We absolutely fall into this camp. I use it a lot as a flavoring agent or a salt substitute in recipes — a slice or two to infuse a crock pot full of dried beans with porky-smoky-richness, for example. But, we’ll cook up a mess of bacon as a more substantial component to a dish, or as a standalone food. This is the bacon to pile onto burgers or BLTs, or to enjoy alongside pancakes or waffles, dragging the strips through syrup or runny egg yolks.
Yet, we’ve never tested the optimum method to create that had perfect slice of crispiness. We’ve cooked it in a skillet, and in the oven, and we’ve tried it in the microwave when in a hurry. We’ve read about air fryer and sous vide methods we’d like to try, as well as other hacks for easier cleanup or better texture. On this day, we didn’t have either and air fryer or, a sous vide, so, those will have to be for another blog.
To find which method or methods work best, we tested 6 methods and compared the results side-by-side. Our house smelled amazing, by the way, my wife was delighted to help me taste test.
Some Control Factors
Tests: We only used thick-cut for this experiment as that is all we had on hand. For each method, I tested the number of bacon slices that fit into the cooking vessel (skillet, sheet pan, air fryer basket, etc.) and made note of that in my description.
Bacon: We used a widely distributed grocery-store brand. For the bacon, we chose Wright Applewood Smoked Bacon.
Time: The time listed is the cooking time; any preheating time is noted separately. we did not list cleanup time.
Ratings: We rated each cooking method on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing perfection. Texture, cook time, ease of preparation, cleanup, and appearance all factored into the ratings.
Method: Water in Skillet
Total Time: 16 minutes
About This Method: This technique, touted by America’s Test Kitchen instructs you to arrange bacon in a cold skillet and add just enough water to cover. You cook over high heat until the water boils, lower the heat to medium until the water evaporates, and then cook over medium-low heat until the bacon is done.
The theory here is that the water “keeps the initial cooking temperature low and gentle, so the meat retains its moisture and stays tender.” The site doesn’t specify what type of skillet to use, so we went with stainless steel, which is shown in the accompanying photo. There are no instructions to flip the bacon as it cooks, but we did (once the water evaporated) to make sure both sides were crisped.
The bacon stuck to the pan, and it cooked inconsistently, with crispier parts and chewier parts on each slice. We had noticeable shrinkage and the thick-cut bacon also curled up a good bit. There was also more popping and sputtering than we’d noticed with other stovetop methods. Cleanup was a bit of a hassle because after the water cooked off, the skillet was covered with a sticky film that just adhered more firmly to the pan as the bacon finished cooking. We had to soak and scrub the skillet to get it clean.
My Takeaway: The texture wasn’t superior to that of bacon cooked using some of the other methods. Cleanup took longer and required more elbow grease, too, which is a serious buzzkill.
Bottom Line: Our opinion is to skip this method. Rating: 5/10
Total Time: 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 minutes
About This Method: There are countless sources that give instructions for this cooking method, so, you can take your pick. Here, bacon gets sandwiched between a double layer of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and cooks on high for four to six minutes. We were able to comfortably fit four slices on the plate without overlapping slices.
It took us a few tries to get the timing right: The bacon easily went from a bit underdone to burned in a few seconds. You’ll likely need to check on the slices, remove ones as they’re done, and continue to cook the rest in short bursts. The bacon was very flat and appeared to be uniformly cooked. Our thick bacon fared well, yielding lovely crispy-fatty pockets — when we finally got the timing right. Cleanup was a breeze: we simply tossed the paper towels and loaded the plate into my dishwasher. Even though there were no splatters in our microwave, we still gave it a spray and rub-down because the walls had a light oily film on them.
My Takeaway: We could see this method being useful if you only need to cook a few slices of thick-cut bacon, and you need to cook them fast — but we like to save my bacon drippings for later use, and with this method the paper towels soak them all up. You’ll need to check the bacon for doneness about a minute or two before the indicated cook time, and then cook in increments of 10 to 15 seconds until you get the right texture. Basically, although this method is the fastest, it requires some finesse.
Bottom line: OK for thick-cut bacon, if you’re in a hurry and don’t want the drippings. Rating: 6/10
Method: Nonstick Skillet
Total Time: 10 minutes
About This Method: We used the instructions from Food Network’s roundup of bacon cooking methods. We arranged bacon slices in a cold nonstick pan and cooked on medium heat, flipping the slices occasionally as needed.
The bacon curled up a little as it cooked, and it ended up with some charred spots and some fatty-chewy spots. These textural differences were apparent by looking at the bacon. There were a few splatters on the stovetop, but cleanup of the pan itself was easy; we were able to scrape every last bit of the rendered fat into a container for later use.
My Takeaway: This method seemed okay for cooking a small amount of bacon, but the inconsistent cooking was not ideal. We love having some tasty seared bits on my bacon, but some of the slices ended up charred in places and were unpleasantly burned-tasting.
Bottom Line: It’s an okay stovetop method with easy cleanup. Rating: 6/10
Method: Baking on a Rack with Paper Towels Underneath
Total Time: 29 minutes + 10 minutes oven preheating time
About This Method: We were intrigued by this tip, given in a tweet by Alton Brown: We lined a rimmed baking sheet with layers of paper towels, arranged a wire rack over the paper towels, placed bacon slices on the rack, and baked at 400°F till the bacon was done to my liking.
The bacon stayed the meatiest with this oven-rack method, with the least amount of shrinkage. To see what difference the paper towels made, we cooked one batch of thick-cut bacon over paper towels and one batch of each with no paper towels. The paper towels definitely helped with cleanup, but didn’t eliminate it entirely; the unlined pan gathered lots of grease and some splotchy scorched spots that we had to scrub off. But even with the towels, the rack had to be scrubbed, and that was, frankly, time-consuming.
We know what some of you are thinking — and no, the paper towels don’t catch fire or smoke at 400°F. They do soak up the hot rendered bacon fat, basically eliminating any chance that you’ll burn yourself with hot grease. Of course, if rendered bacon fat is like Liquid Gold in your home, this method isn’t ideal.
My Takeaway: This technique is great for cooking a large amount of bacon; you could do two pans at once (that is, if you have enough pans and wire racks). We liked how baking the bacon on a rack makes it easy to control the end product: We cooked one batch until it was crispy and one batch until it was meaty-chewy, with a Canadian bacon–like texture. And okay, we’ll admit that we might be a bit lazy, but we really hated scrubbing baked-on bacon bits off a wire rack. We tried washing it in the dishwasher, but some stuck-on bits remained, and we had to get out my brush and scrub anyway.
Bottom line: This is a good technique for cooking a large volume of meaty bacon with easy cleanup of the pan — but be prepared to scrub the rack. Rating: 7/10
Method: Cast Iron Skillet
Total Time: 11 minutes
About This Method: Many sites tout this old-school method for cooking bacon. We used the directions instructing us to place strips in a cold cast iron skillet and cook over moderate heat, flipping the bacon occasionally until it’s done to your liking.
The bacon remained overall pretty flat. We got slices that were crunchy and seared in places and chewier-fattier (with a crispy crust) in other places, probably because the ends wanted to curl up and cook without making full contact with the pan. The well-seasoned pan meant the bacon didn’t stick, and cleanup was moderate. We had to wipe away spatters on the stovetop, and we scraped the drippings into a bowl for storage and rinsed and wiped dry the skillet.
My Takeaway: We truly love this kind of bacon. It’s nostalgic; it’s good Nana bacon. There’s something about the amount of sear and fat and chew that you end up with that’s just delicious. And, perhaps we’re imagining this, but even though you’re only cooking over medium heat, we believe there’s almost an equivalent of wok hei or translated as “breath of the wok” here, where the bacon picks up character and flavor from the pan itself. It’s a good method for cooking up a few slices (up to maybe six in a large pan), that allows you to hang onto those flavorful drippings.
Bottom Line: This is great for folks who want to cook a small amount of bacon and value crispy and chewy in each slice. Rating: 8/10
Method: Baking on Parchment Paper
Total Time: 24 minutes + 10 minutes oven preheating time
About This Method: Martha Stewart’s technique promises a “spatter-free” way to get “perfectly crispy bacon.” You simply line one or two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, arrange the bacon on top, and bake at 400°F until it is crisped to your liking. When the bacon is done, you transfer it to a paper towel–lined plate or platter to drain.
Because the bacon sits in its own rendered fat as it bakes, it cooks more quickly than if you cooked it on a rack. The fatty parts also get wonderfully crispy (if you like that), because they’re basically fried. If you prefer your bacon chewier, you can simply cook it a few minutes less to achieve that effect.
Both regular- and thick-cut slices cooked evenly and completely flat, without any need to flip them as they cooked. One cleanup tip: Make sure to cut a large-enough sheet of parchment paper so that there is overhang on all sides. Then fold the excess up so that the drippings don’t seep through any cracks. We tried this and when the bacon came out of the pan, we let the drippings cool slightly, lifted up the parchment, and directed the drippings into a container for storage. We threw away the parchment and inspected the pan — there was not a trace of grease. It went back in the cabinet without even a rinse.
My Takeaway: We loved the texture and appearance of this bacon, and that it cooks hands-free with no babysitting. We also loved that this method works for a few slices or up to 20, and that, if you use the overhang trick, cleanup is just so incredibly easy.
Bottom Line: Effortless cleanup (that allows you to save drippings), pretty slices, and easy control of the crispiness or chewiness of the bacon. This method is our go-to for bacon. Rating: 10/10
My father was a Sr. I am a Jr., and Scotty is a III. We were actually hoping for a little Scotty IV, but, it looks like that is not likely. Since my father passed away at the end of 2015 , I am assumed to be the Sr. and Scotty the Jr, which is ok with me, but I am getting off subject. I wanted to talk about my Dad and his legacy for a minute.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I believe most people live in an alternate reality in which their parents will always be there… Oh sure, you KNOW how the circle of life works and we can all comfort others with this analogy. But, as far as MY family, it’s all Hakuna-Matata and parents don’t die.. Although logically, you realize they will move on someday, emotionally, you live in a happily-ever-after world when it comes to parents. Uncles die, aunts pass away, but, not dads. Maybe you understand reality, but the subject is too painful to contemplate and dwell upon.
Someone recently introduced me to blogging, and I began using it as an intellectual tool to help others with problems and processes. I found it to be more than a tool. Blogging became a fulfilling pastime. I didn’t consider why, I just liked getting my thoughts out on proverbial paper. This morning I realized, dealing with death is also a process and getting your thoughts out can be extremely helpful in processing your emotions during times like these. I am a list maker, and as I recently learned, my wife’s entire family is a group people that punctuate their thoughts with numbers, bullets or some other artificial point-maker. I am in great company.
Here are some things my father taught me through his death.
1 Longevity –
Parents who live long are very lucky. Not only for their longevity, and not only because they get to see their children grow into adulthood, and not only because they may see grandchildren, but for all those extra years to develop a closeness with their children. Had my father died when I was a teenager, we would not have had the decades since then to get closer. My Dads passing help me realize that I should exploit this fact with my own children in the decades to come.
2 Age at death-
My father was born on August 12, 1937 and died on Dec 8, 2015. He was 78. When people are told that someone’s parent has died, the first thing most ask — and nearly everyone wonders — is, “How was old was he/she?” This is completely understandable. But it needs to be analyzed. The age of the deceased matters only if one is assessing whether the death was a tragedy. Death at age 78 is not a tragedy. I would suggest the age at which a parent dies is irrelevant regarding the hole left in your heart. Dad taught me that the more years a person has had with his or her parent, the larger the hole.
3 Judgement vs knowledge-
Perhaps parents are the people that you keep at an arms length away, but close enough when you need them. These are the people that not only know how to push your buttons, they installed them. Don’t get me wrong, you love them dearly, however they are still teaching, still guiding, still disappointed in poor behavior, still correcting, still being a parent. How dare them! I will say this, no matter how old you are, as long as a parent is alive, you are still a child. Your parents care about you, love you deeply and always want you to be happy and reach your full potential. Dad taught me that no matter how old either of you are, both of you have the ability to teach the other.
4 Impact and legacy-
Just as children can be a source of pride or shame to parents, parents can be a source of pride or shame to their children. In some ways, even more so. I came to realize that as regards shame, bad parental behavior can actually have a greater impact on children — including adult children — than bad behavior of children has on parents. If a decent person’s son commits a terrible crime, we tend to have compassion for that parent. But if a decent person’s father commits a terrible crime, that crime, completely unfairly, reflects on the child. That is why one of the sons of Bernard Madoff, the man who stole billions of dollars, committed suicide. So did one of Charles Manson’s sons. It was as if they felt forever tainted. Yet we don’t hear about the parent of a child who engages in similar criminal behavior committing suicide. It was my Dad who made me realize this. Whenever I introduced my father to friends or my wife’s family, I was proud of him as he carried himself with respect, dignity and grace. If your parents bring you no shame, be very grateful. If you’re proud of them, celebrate. Dad taught me to be the parent your children are proud to introduce to their friends.
5 What is more important than closeness-
My father loved my his wife. He loved her more than anyone or anything in life. They were married for 23 years. His wife was a talker. My Dad and I who were cut from the same swatch of fabric, are not big talkers. However, we shared great memories together. These were solid emotional ties. However, more important than emotional closeness, I had developed his strong ethical/moral model. I have always worn an invisible but powerful bracelet with the letters: WWDD. What Would Dad Do? The ideal for a son is to have an emotional bond with his father who is also a strong ethical model. But, if you can only have one, the latter is more important than the former. I had the benefit of both with my Dad.
6 Where is my father now?-
Has anyone ever lost a loved one and not wondered, where is he/she now? This is the ultimate question. Is it really all over after the last breath? Was my father a vibrant, thinking, feeling, imbued-with-meaning human being one minute, and then a bunch of inanimate molecules — no different than his equal weight in sand — a minute later? I have always recognized what is logically obvious: If there is a God, and the bible is the word of God, there is an afterlife. Dad was a Christian man, so, my Dads passing has not left me wondering what his fate was and why we are here, but, instead has solidified my meaning in life and provided assurance that I will see him again.
Goodbye, Dad. You did well.