Just as bacon can go with anything, there’s pretty much no end to the number ways of cooking bacon. Most of us make it in the pretty usual way: we fry it in a frying pan. However, as we’ve pointed out on this site, there are many folks who bake bacon in the oven, and swear by that method (we’re not going to argue with them). And then there are the microwave fanatics who argue that they aren’t making bacon in the microwave because its so convenient, but because they can’t notice anything different about the taste (yeah, right). But one of the strangest methods for cooking bacon has to be blanching bacon. Today, we’re going to tell you about blanching bacon and give you an idea of when you should use it.
Blanching is a method of food preparation. Basically, it means that you take a pot of boiling water, throw whatever you want to cook in it and let it simmer for a bit. Then, after a few minutes, you take it out and put it in cold water to arrest the cooking process. Simple, eh?
This process is usually used for vegetables. Asparagus shoots, for instance, can get really soggy if they aren’t cooked quickly. The real crazy thought comes when you realize that people also use blanching for bacon: people throw bacon into boiling water and cook it that way. It just sounds like it would create a soggy mess. In other words, why, oh why, would you ever do this with your own bacon? (Can you tell I like crispy bacon)
Change the Cooking Method, Change the Flavour
Blanching bacon was a favourite method of bacon preparation for Julia Child. (I suggest blaming the French!). Blanching bacon is for those times when bacon is a background ingredient in a dish, rather than a major component. The classic example for Julia Child is beef bourguignon. The bacon is just in the dish to provide a depth of flavour – no one is expecting to chew on chunks of bacon as they eat their meal. And the reason why you blanche the bacon is because you just want to subtly change the flavour of the bacon. When bacon is blanched, it has a rounder, more porky flavour than regular bacon. It also has a less smoky and salty flavour.
Basically, blanching bacon gives it a less powerful flavour. For dishes where you are concerned that the smokiness of bacon could mask the delicate balance of flavours in the other ingredients, blanching can be a good idea. (This is probably why the French are fond of this method.) But this is also clearly just a flavour preference – nowadays, most people are totally fine with a rich, smoky flavour in their foods. Heck, some people buy it in sauce containers and then dump it all over whatever they are eating! So, for most other meals, I recommend using the tried and true methods of baking and frying.
What do you think of blanching bacon? Do you plan to do it anytime soon?
Image provided by Michael W. May