I love bacon – in almost all its forms – and sprinkling some fresh bits on top of a twice baked potato or into a garden salad is an effective way to spruce up an otherwise banal dish. There is no question that fresh bacon bits are significantly better than the shelf stable junk that comes out of the can/bag. As making homemade bacon bits can be tedious and messy, people generally avoid it. All that breaking up the bacon by hand and getting grease everywhere, or dirtying up a food processor for 10 seconds of work is an annoying hassle that usually offsets any gain in the taste department. If you follow a few simple rules and the procedure below it is possible to get all the benefit of homemade bits without the hassle.
As with any other dish, the key to getting great bacon bits is to start with the best ingredients possible. Here you see two rashers of our homemade bacon (post coming soon). While everyone CAN make bacon at home, I realize that most rely on store bought. If you are going to buy bacon from a grocer look for thick, freshly cut (meat counter – not Styrofoam package) and neutral bacon. I try to stay away from heavily flavored bacons for two reasons: first, they are often flavored artificially, second stronger flavored bacon will limit the applications of the bacon to dishes that compliment it. For example, a strong maple, smoked bacon would probably not go over too well in a salad with a light citronette and fresh fruits – it would just be too overpowering
Make sure you cook your bacon all the way through. If you prefer slimy, undercooked bacon with your eggs that is your prerogative, but for making bits it just won’t work.
Here the fully cooked bacon is draining on a double-thick layer of paper towels. Note the almost burnt edges, this will insure for proper smashing.
After the grease has drained, wrap another layer of paper towels around the bacon, reach for your trusty rolling pin, and give it a couple of solid smacks.
Once you have beaten the bacon into appropriately small pieces for the application, unwrap the paper towel and reserve the bits. If you have done this properly the extent of the mess to clean should be throwing away the paper towel and washing one frying pan. That wasn’t so bad no was it?