Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven and My Thoughts on Low Carb Dieting

Perfect bacon, cooked all at once in the oven!

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Oven bacon is the easiest way to cook a lot of bacon at once, but first, I want to address a subject that interestingly several long time readers have contacted me about recently, and that is to ask what I think about this new low carb trend among some southern food bloggers, to which I respond, "there's a trend??"

Between family, grandchildren and work, I don't get out much across the interwebs so I wasn't aware of this, but y'all tell me there has been, and seriously, I'm not at all surprised to see some southern food bloggers taking the low carb path. Here's why.

You see, what y'all may not realize is that bloggers of any food, tend to gain weight over the course of their blog work. It's just part of the business. (which by the way, if you see advertising on a blog, small or large, it's a business - thanks for supporting us and our advertisers so we can buy the groceries!)

Bloggers of southern food tend to gain even more weight. You have to admit, our food is delicious and loaded with flavor! You see, for most of us folks in the south who don't blog about food, well, we enjoy our southern favorites and always will, but we have those things in between things like lean poultry and fish, grilled foods, main dish salad based meals, fruits and lots of veggies.

Like other food bloggers, bloggers of southern food are trying to build up some content for our readers, so whatever path we take in our recipes - classic southern, fast and easy, family friendly, or even all over the place - we cook those southern favorites a lot more often than the average home cook does. Because we're not rich, we can't afford to pitch our creations in the trash can like corporate test kitchens do, so we and our families consume those dishes and sometimes because they are blog post based, we skip the balancing part.

Most of us in the south aren't big on exercising either because frankly y'all, as far as gyms go, we're just as busy as the rest of you around the country and don't have time to stand around waiting on machines. We have land in the south, so nothing is in walking distance and everything requires a car to get to. There's also no mass transportation to speak of to carry us to one central location where we can then walk around to everything else nearby. And then, there's the heat and humidity, both of which suck the life right out of you. It's super hot and the humidity is thick and heavy here 90% of the year. Most of the time you can't walk out of the door without feeling the effect on your body, much less to walk the neighborhood or ride a bike in it.

So, as bloggers of southern food we usually add a few pounds. Often more than a few. Sometimes our health suffers due to the imbalances. And when we do reel it in, you often find us turning to and publishing more diet-friendly recipes... even though that wasn't and isn't and really shouldn't be, the focus of our blog.

Yeah, we didn't exactly think that whole thing through well, did we?

Over the course of my almost 60 years of life here on Earth, I have probably done just about every imaginable diet in existence, so some of you likely remember me talking about how I have done low carb dieting before in my late 30s and into my 40s. Please understand, this is just my own opinion, which I have been asked for, based on my own experiences, so before you leave some snarky comment, please understand folks, we're not talking about controlling carbs in your diet because of dietary restrictions needed for serious health conditions, like celiac disease, or especially extreme diabetes. In cases such as that, you should do what you doctor tells you to do.

We're talking extreme low carb diets, 20 grams or under, for primarily fast and mostly vanity weight loss, the diets where you forgo virtually any kind of sugars and carbohydrates, good and "bad," including not only white stuff, but brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads, sweet potatoes, grain crackers, many vegetables, and of course, most desserts, even those with altered low fat and sugar free ingredients (because even sucralose contains carbs), in exchange for massives amounts of proteins with a heavy focus on eggs, meats and cheeses. And often lots of bacon. Because it's low carb and because it's delicious!

Now, from what I see on television, some of the low carb programs out there have expanded a bit from my days of low carb, for better nutrition, but with slower weight loss, so I'm only speaking from my own past experiences. A strict low carb diet of 20 grams, net carbs, is actually a great way to lose about 35 pounds, fairly quick, if you have an event of some kind coming up, like a class reunion, wedding, or for us bloggers, book tours and television appearances. It gets tougher after that though, and that way of eating absolutely does not marry well with other diets - whether it be the standard American diet, low fat or otherwise, because low carb cooking involves high doses of protein and fats, so carbohydrates have to be reduced and even eliminated.

As far as I'm concerned, low carb is just another deprivation diet, and those kinds of food restrictions don't generally work for the long term, unless you're willing to deprive yourself for the long term, which most of us are not. Unless you "George Stella commit" to a lifestyle of low carb for, well, the rest of your life, expect to regain all of the weight, plus some bonus weight on down the line when you resume "normal" eating. Happens every time. My carbohydrate intake was so low when I was in the throes of it, 20 grams or less, that as soon as I ate anything with carbohydrates - like too much salad with too many veggies in it - after that first 35 pounds, my weight loss stalled and I'd have to reduce my carbs even further to start losing again. It was insane.

My metabolism also suffered from that restriction to the point that now at almost 60, my body went into starvation mode and doesn't want to let go of any weight, unless I become very carb restrictive, exercise obsessed and pretty much eat boiled eggs and beef all the time. Have you seen the price of steaks? Yeah, that ain't gonna happen! I've also tried the low carb replacement foods (just ask The Cajun about me trying to pass off cauliflower faux mashed "potatoes" hahaha).

So, even though I occasionally eat foods that are naturally "low carb" and I still enjoy my southern favorites, though I certainly don't eat them everyday, I'm definitely a southerner through and through. I cannot imagine living my life without ever touching the real deal fried chicken, shrimp or fish again, or anything made with a flour and oil roux, White Lily biscuits and any kind of gravy, grits, fresh corn on the cob, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red beans, rice, crowders and butter beans, pasta, pecans, banana pudding, pie or cake - just to name a few - because, generally speaking, even after losing weight, you'll find you can't have any of that on strict low carb. Ever. Again. For the rest of your life!

Thank you, but I'm not too good with depriving myself, and I don't know how long I'll be on this planet - it's short enough as it is. I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna be on my deathbed saying "Man, I'm sure glad I quit eating pecan pie!" I'll just continue to try and watch my portions, eat a bit more balanced around the food spectrum and reel it in a little bit when I don't, try to be more active, and live the rest of my life a little fluffy I reckon. While I always think it's a great idea to cut back on processed foods and simple and refined carbohydrates and focus more on complex carbs and whole grains, I believe a balance is more appropriate and that's what I try to do now. So those are my thoughts and experiences with the low carb trend - hey, y'all asked!

And all of that to get to this. Bacon.

Low carb or not, oven bacon has become all of the rage the past few years, but oven baking of bacon has been on most bacon packages for as long as I can remember. Of course, I used it all through those low carb days, because, at least in my experience, most low carbers eat a lot of bacon. Whether you're dieting or not, cooking a full pound of bacon in the oven is a great way to get your bacon all done at once.

When I'm just cooking a slice or three, I still cook it in a skillet, but I use the oven method when I want to bake up more than a few, or especially an entire package of bacon at once, like this weekend for breakfast, because the grandkids spent the night! It stores nicely in the fridge for a few days, so it's handy to have on hand for a sandwich or to add to a recipe. Just let it cool and store the pieces in a zippered storage bag. You can also freeze it if you don't think you'll use it up quickly.

To make it, I just lay the bacon out on a foil covered, rimmed baking pan, two of them for a full pound. It makes for easier clean up to bake it on foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick your bacon is, and the degree of crispness you're looking for. I've seen some folks say to start with a cold oven, but I've done it both ways, and I prefer to preheat - works for me! No need to turn the bacon either. Once the bacon is done, drain it on a rack or on paper towels, but don't forget to save the bacon grease. You'll find a ton of uses for it here.

Check out more of my "how-to" tips and recipes here, on Pinterest!

For the sake of pinning the "recipe," here it is.


Recipe: How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 5 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: Varies

  • 1 (12 to 16 ounce) package standard bacon

Line two rimmed jelly roll pans with aluminum foil for easier clean up. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay bacon strips in a single layer, not touching one another on the aluminum foil. Place into oven and bake, without turning, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness and desired crispness.

Thick sliced bacon may take longer and require turning halfway. Remove from oven, transferring strips to a rack or paper towels to drain. Carefully pour bacon drippings into a grease pot to reserve for another use. Serve or let cool and store in a zippered bag in the refrigerator or freeze for other uses.

Cook's Notes: All ovens vary in the fluctuations in temperature. Keep an eye on the bacon toward the end to avoid overcooking or burning. You can also do a half package of bacon on a single rimmed baking sheet. I have no issues with splattering in the oven at 400 degrees F, however if your oven cooks hotter, simply reduce the temp to 350 degrees F and cook until done.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on June 13, 2016

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