How to make bacon extra crispy is a thought that's thwarted the finest minds on the planet.
Perfecting the balance between floppy fat and bitter black shards is an art that remains more complicated than it should be.
But, like any scientific mystery that has millions of collective brain cells working on the problem, there are occasional breakthroughs.
Establishing whether these revelations are genuine game-changers or just wishful thinking is the first responsibility of any budding researcher.
It just so happens that when bacon is involved, the process is much more delicious than normal. All the more reason to start sciencing.
How to make bacon extra crispy – the secret
For several years, the suggestion that you should add water to a pan of bacon has been gaining in popularity.
Not only, so the theory goes, does this method produce crispier strips, but it also prevents messy fat splatter.
After observing the noise from afar, and working up an appetite, we decided to give the technique a go for ourselves.
Following the advice of a few other internet pioneers, we set up three test groups.
The first control sample was cooked in the traditional way, with rashers placed into a cold pan and the fat allowed to slowly render.
The second group, involved just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, cooking until it had all evaporated before allowing the bacon to crisp up.
The third sample, as per a suggestion from Cook’s Illustrated, was completely submerged in water, which we boiled away before crisping the bacon up over a lower heat. The results were intriguing, to say the least.
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Does adding water make bacon crispy?
The first thing to note is that adding water does indeed make bacon crispy.
After about 15 minutes or so of cooking, we discovered that the more water was added to the pan, the crispier the end result to be.
Test sample Three, which had been completely submerged, almost shattered when it was removed.
Meanwhile, sample Two also had a satisfying crunch with slightly more chew. Texturally, the contrast was stark.
However, as with anything you’re planning on putting in your mouth, texture isn’t everything.
Though the watery samples were seriously crispy, they were also plagued by a slight lack of flavour.
It seemed as though this directly corresponded to the amount of liquid that they had been cooked in.
Does adding water to bacon make it better?
Sample One, which had been completely waterless, easily packed the most punch and was far and away the most bacony.
One of the biggest surprises came from the cook time. As recommended, we had the heat on high to get rid of the water in samples Two and Three, before reducing for rendering.
However, even with all the boiling, sample Three actually cooked fastest, with Two close behind and One bringing up the rear.
But, despite the added crunch and comparatively speedy cook time, for our money water remains a waste of time.
Unless you like your meat to splinter, you simply can’t beat the subtly fatty chew of a normal bacon rasher.
Couple that with a fully fleshed-out flavour, and drowning your breakfast in tap water starts to seem slightly pointless.
The Twisted verdict
To sum up, the lesson seems to be just because something can become crispier doesn’t mean that it should be.
If you end up with something that both snaps and tastes like an autumn twig, questions have to be asked whether it’s worth it.
As any bacon buff will tell you, crunch is just one part of the equation.