When I tell you how to get the crispiest bacon or pancetta, you are going to find it a little counter intuitive. But you are just going to have to trust me on this one. The best way to get your bacon super crispy and golden brown, is to boil it, or to be precise; blanch it.

For those of you who think blanching is strictly limited to vegetables, let me explain the reason behind the madness. Now I am not saying that you can thrown some bacon into a pan of boiling water, drain it and expect it to become instantly crispy and golden brown. It is merely the first step towards the crispiest bacon or pancetta, you have ever had.

Blanching the meat first, draws out the impurities you may find in bacon and pancetta, that are likely to burn during frying. These impurities can range from blood in the meat, to salts and sugars left over from the curing process. By extracting these during the gentle simmering, you can cook your bacon at a much higher temperature, in order to crisp up the outside, without the risk of ending up with black bacon.

The blanching process also allows you to cut down on the cooking time of the bacon. The blanched meat is cooked through and the fat is rendered out. This allows the bacon to be cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, to crisp it up, without the risk of under cooking it.

There are also other benefits to blanching your bacon first. The smoky, salty flavour is the best part of bacon when you’re eating it straight up, but when you’re cooking with it, sometimes the salt and smoke can overpower the other ingredients in the dish. Blanching bacon, is useful for when you want to use it in a recipe but don’t want it to be too strong. Blanched bacon is perfect for a subtle hint of bacon that doesn’t overpower a dish. Coq au vin or beef bourguignon are great example where blanched, then crisped, bacon would work really well.

For the neatest bacon lardons make sure to chill the bacon or pancetta down thoroughly before cutting this give the fat a chance to set solid. Allowing you to cut super straight and neat lardons for whatever recipe you might be cooking.

— Al Brady


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INGREDIENTS

300g bacon or pancetta


METHOD

Place the bacon / pancetta into a pan and cover with cold water until completely submerged. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring the water gently to the boil.

Turn down the heat, skim off any scum or foam that rises to the surface of the water and leave to simmer very gently for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes turn off the heat and leave the bacon / pancetta to cool in the water for 1 hour. Remove the bacon from the water, and press between 2 baking sheets with a weight on top. Put the pressed bacon in the fridge for 3 hours, or overnight, until well chilled.

Remove the bacon from the fridge and remove the rind (skin) and discard. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the bacon into neat lardons.

Drizzle the oil into a non-stick frying pan and place over a high heat. Once the oil is hot add the lardons to the pan and fry on a high heat, tossing occasionally until crispy and golden brown all over. Drain on kitchen paper and use as required.


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