“Bacon’s not the only thing that’s cured by hanging from a string.” – Hugh Kingsmill, English Writer, 1889 – 1949
The other day a young, up-and-coming man asked me for the answer to one of life’s great mysteries: How does one cook bacon without a shirt? For anonymity sake we’ll call this young buck, Cameron. Surely we have all been here at some point in our lives. You’ve just come in from an exhausting early morning workout, shirt soaked and removed, and yet your muscles hunger for the crispy delights of swine belly, colloquially known as bacon. Or, you have your nice shirt on and don’t want it to get ruined by the grease popping as you fry up a pound of meat candy, so you remove said shirt and venture forward. You soon discover, however, that your torso is being assaulted by tiny spears of greased lighting. Bacon is fighting back! Of course, this is bacon we are talking about, so you continue to take the hits, knowing it will be worth it in the long run. You will win the battle, but wonder if there is an easier way. Well, Cameron’s of the world, I tell you, yes…sort of.
How to Cook Bacon Like a Man (Shirtless)
Cooking bacon shirtless can be an exhilarating experience, but it isn’t always necessary. Flannel shirts, for example, are pretty good with washing out grease and can hide small pops of grease discoloration fairly well. So, if you needed another reason to wear flannel, there you go.
Also, they make these things called splatter screens, which are like a thin wire mesh screen, but that only helps you out when the bacon is cooking, not when you need to turn it over or add more. They are good about keeping grease from building up on your stove top so check it out and see if that works for you.
You may also want to try cooking the bacon in water. I know that sounds crazy but it might just work.
Option #1: Grow a protective barrier
This may not be the timely or genetically viable option, but if possible use what nature gave you. A well carpeted front might save you from looking like a speckled trout.
As a side note, I realize this may also be a flammable option, so there’s that.
As a side, side note, and PSA, never search for images of hairy chested men. You’ve been warned.
Option #2: Heat Control
The key to controlling bacon splatters is heat control and generally knowing what you are doing.
Step 1: Always use a cast iron skillet
Nothing can fry bacon like cast iron, nothing. Plus you can get a decent wrist workout.
Step 2: Put the bacon in the pan before it’s hot
Typically, when frying stuff in cast iron you let the pan get nice and hot first, but not with bacon. Rookie mistake! Without the bacon to gradually distribute the heat, the pan will get too hot and when the grease starts to come out of the bacon it starts popping everywhere. Plus, this will usually cook the middle of the bacon to a crisp while leaving the fatty ends because it’s all cooking too fast. Start with medium to medium low heat and be patient.
Step 3: Use a bacon press and tongs
If you want to take your bacon experience to the next level, the easiest way to do so is to use a cast iron bacon press. The bacon will cook more evenly and the press pushes the grease out to the sides of the pan and\or on top of the press so it is less exposed to heat.
Tongs will allow you to stay farther away from the bacon and save your forearms from getting peppered.
Step 4: Reduce the heat after the first round
I typically step it down a notch after the first batch of bacon is done before putting in the rest. The cast iron skillet will retain a good deal of heat all on its own.
There may be no perfect method to completely save yourself from being assaulted by pig juice, but as every man knows, sometimes the best meals are hard-won.
If you have any other suggestions, please let us know by sharing in the comments below.