Poach your bacon
A bacon craze has fallen over the world these past few years, at least if the food blogs on the internet are to be believed. Bacon is as simple as tossing a few strips in a frying pan too. Or is it?
Most of the time I get hard crumbly parts mixed in with undercooked chewy bits. I just thought that was what happened with bacon cooked at home. Then I found out a simple way to make it more like what you get in the restaurant.
Put the strips of bacon in your pan, and add water until it is just barely covering the meat.
Turn your heat to medium high. When the water boils, turn your heat down to medium. The water will boil away finish as usual, flipping when needed.
Why does this work? Poaching renders out a lot of the fat. The fat takes longer to cook than the meat, so the poaching cooks the fat out before the meat starts to crisp up. That way you get a nice, evenly cooked slice of bacon.
You can get similar results by cooking bacon in the oven, but who wants to heat up the whole kitchen with the oven in the summer time?
Sauté your popcorn
Popcorn is a great snack, and relatively healthy if you don't put too much butter on it. The microwavable stuff though leaves me unimpressed. There are un-popped kernels, burned bits, and the "butter" flavour can hardly be considered natural.
I've tried doing my own microwavable popcorn, by using brown paper bags and a pad of butter for grease. It's OK, however it tends to leave a mess in the microwave and still a lot of un-popped kernels. Instead I switched to the stove.
Now you may be saying it's just as easy to burn popcorn on the stove, and you have to watch it like a hawk. Not so with the method I found.
First put in three tablespoons of oil, and three kernels of popcorn in a saucepot.
Put the pot on the stove, covered, and turn your heat to medium high. Wait until you hear the distinct popping sound.
Now take the pot off the stove, add the rest of your kernels and cover again. About a quarter cup of kernels in a four-litre saucepan is a good amount. Wait 30 seconds, giving the pot a good shake to get the kernels coated in oil.
Put the pot back under medium high heat, and let them pop. It will not take long to start. Listen for the popping slows down and take off the heat again. The popping should finish quickly.
Add your favourite toppings, and enjoy!
Why does this work? The couple of kernels you put in at the beginning act as a gauge, telling you when the oil is at the right temperature for popping corn. Because the oil is just right when you add the rest of the kernels, you don't have to worry about burned bits. The 30 seconds off the stove gives the kernels enough time to come to temperature before being put back on the full heat of the stove.
Best of all you save money. A bag of popping corn is just a few dollars for almost a kilogram. The same in microwavable popcorn is several times as much.