What do you think about when you wake up in the morning? The majority would start off their day with a nice hefty breakfast. Some eggs, pancakes, maybe some juice or milk to wash it down.
However, one of the most popular dishes to eat for breakfast is Bacon. Bacon is cured and smoked pork belly, sliced thin, and cooked to perfection when done correctly.
One of America’s favorite breakfast meats has come a long way from just being slabs of pork belly but does anyone know how to properly cook it. It is still pork, so how is it supposed to be cooked for it to be safe for consumption?
Many don't even think about the safety of bacon, as they just want the fatty piece of meat inside of their stomach. Any kind of meat should first be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F.
However, how can one tell this from a thin slice of bacon? Generally speaking, when bacon is smoked, the smoker should heat up the meat to 145 °F during this process.
You can never be too careful when it comes to food poisoning. It is up to you to be sure it is cooked to 145 °F internally. This can be achieved by cooking on any setting your stove or griddle will heat to but you must know how to test the temperature inwardly.
Relying on the smoker to cook your food before it is refrigerated and frozen is not exactly the best move when it comes to making sure your food isn’t riddled with bacteria.
Now, why do we have to heat out meat to an internal temperature of 145 °F you may ask? Well, some meats, mainly white meats, and pork, most likely contain bacteria that would otherwise thrive if not heated to a certain temperature.
The bacteria can carry diseases that can cause food poisoning, as well as other dangerous illnesses. The bacteria is living inside of the meat, so washing it to take off the bacteria will only do so much to protect you.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t wash off your meat, but it should not be the only thing that you do. To protect those who ingest these slabs of meat, it is recommended to cook the meat until the fattest part registers at 145 °F. This will ensure that the smaller pieces have also reached the recommended temperature.
One way to tell if you have cooked your bacon to an internal temperature fit for consumption is to check and see if the fat is slightly opaque.
If you are able to see some of the colors of the pan through the crispy fat, you should be golden. Although, the thicker the piece of back you decide to purchase, the harder it may be to see the opaqueness of the fat.
You could also cook the item for a minimum of 2 minutes on your highest heat setting, depending on the thickness of your bacon, and the internal temperature should be enough to be fit for consumption.
This would be an easier trick to getting your bacon cooked to the proper degree. Two minutes would still produce a strip of flimsy bacon if one wishes, and more time would produce your crunchy bacon.
Some may say that the crispness of the bacon should tell if it is cooked or not. This would be based on the theory that the Maillard Reaction happening in the meat when cooking happens simultaneously in the whole piece of meat.
A Maillard Reaction is when the amino acids and reducing sugars have a chemical reaction to heat, which causes brown food to get its flavor. This happens randomly throughout the meat, which can be seen when inconsistent heating is applied.
This also the reaction that gives meat, especially bacon, its tender, meaty, salty taste. The browning and char that is on the meat and fat is a part of the Maillard Reaction.
Whether you like your bacon “still mooing” or extra sawdust crispy, cooking your bacon to the correct temperature to serve is what is important in the act of eating it.
Although it will only take a measly 2 minutes of cooking to perfect the temperature, given the thin nature of the cured meat, it is important.
While smoked meat has a tendency to reach the temperature, there is no guarantee that the person who smoked it had done this step correctly. Eating properly cooked meat is one of the important parts of enjoying it.
Now that you know at what temperature you should cook your bacon, go forth and cook one right now. Enjoy!