First and foremost, I do want to apologies for the pictures. Despite trying to clean my camera lens they generally came out half blurry.
Bacon. Element number one on the Periodic Table of Awesome. It is a quintessential and delicious food that improves almost everything you eat it with. There is only one method of cooking that could make bacon taste better than it already does. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about the deep fry.
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Step 1: The Path of Bacon
I did not arrive at this revelation immediately, there was a process. The original idea, involved bacon wrapped cheese sticks. However there were issues regarding the relative cooking times, and the results would not have been satisfactory, or safe to eat. When salvaging the two separate snacking delicacies, some of the breading stuck to the bacon, and the light bulb went on.
There have been two attempts to fry bacon. The first one while delicious, will always be remembered as "probably worth it". The second one featured a lighter, tempura batter.
Step 2: Step One: Cook the Bacon
In light of frying the bacon we do want to make sure it is fully cooked. Otherwise it is difficult the fully enjoy the goodness that is bacon. First I took a pair of kitchen shears, although any knife would do, and cut the bacon in half. It can be quite a bit for ones stomach to handle all at once, so portion control is key. Afterwards, break out your trusty frying pan and cook up the bacon. Now for those of you out there that like your bacon crunchy, this is the hard part. You will need to stop at chewy, if not slightly undercooked. Just know that you do not want the bacon raw, or fully cooked at this stage, there will be more cooking, but not enough.
Step 3: Step Two: Batter Up
Next is the batter. Tempura batter is deceptively easy to create, and deviously tricky to execute. If you were just reading along this is the step where you want to read ahead, and lay all the prep work before you try to continue.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup water
Regarding the water. It needs to be cold. Leave it in the fridge or the freezer for a bit. I even went a step further and used carbonated water, the aeration making the batter a bit lighter still.
To assemble the batter, mix the egg and the water and stir in the flour but try not to over mix it. You want it to be loose and light, the more you mess with it, and the more you beat it, the tougher its going to be.
Step 4: Step Three: Out of the Frying Pan
There are a few things to be said about the oil. First of all do not use an olive or vegetable oil. Both have relatively low smoke point and don't take the harsh heat well. Peanut oil is preferred for frying due to its resilience in both matters. I did not have peanut oil, or a thermometer. I would recommend investing in both. Here is how I did it though, for those of you in a similar position.
(As a side note, for those of you with thermometers, 340-360 degrees Farenheit, or about 170-180 degrees Celsius is said to be a good temperature range for tempura frying)
I used canola oil. It can withstand higher temperatures without giving off as much smoke. I had the stove set to about a medium-high temperature, and to test the oil I dropped in some of the batter. It sank, but immediately started bubbling and floated to the surface shortly after. In my experience, this is good. It allows for more even cooking through, and doesn't leave the food in the oil overlong to become greasy and unappetizing.
Step 5: Into the Fryer
Now comes the actual frying. Have your station set up. I like a Bacon, Dredge, Batter, Oil configuration. As far as execution of this step I would recommend having potentially a partner, or possibly gloves. If not, have one hand designated to handling the raw bacon and the flour, and the other for retrieving the bacon, battering it, and setting it in the oil. This just makes it easier and cleaner to handle.
So to fry, we have our precooked bacon. Dredge it in a shallow pan of flour to give the batter something to adhere to. Coverage does not need to be perfect, but even is best.
Then using your other hand, take the bacon out of the flour and dip it in the batter. Its okay to submerge it and get some on your fingers, we want total coverage of the bacon at this point for the frying. After you have it coated, take it out, let some of the excess drip off, and set it in the oil. There are two reasons its okay to do this with your bare hands. One is control. If you let the bacon almost lay into the oil, have it almost just in contact and gently release it there will be no risk of splashing the oil or having pieces stick together. The other, is if you get some of the batter on your fingers while coating the bacon, it will give you protection from the heat, should you be a little clumsy.
The next part is where I tended to run out of clean hands. The bacon should start floating almost immediately after you set it in the oil. Let it for a time, and then using a slotted spoon, preferably a heat tolerant plastic or silicon, turn them over to cook on the other side. Each side should not take more than even a few minutes, watch them closely! When they are golden brown and delicious on both sides, remove them and place them on paper towels so as they don't absorb the extra grease from frying.
Step 6: A Touch of Irony
A very important lesson learned from the first time I fried bacon, is that you can't have too much of a good thing. A friend of mine did, she ended up giving it back. Wasn't pretty. So the next question was what to enjoy your deep fried bacon with so your stomach can handle that much sheer awesome. Since we've already done something that challenges the very being of health food, the logical step was to go green. A very simple and tasty salad known as the lettuce wedge.
Easy. Take your head of lettuce, rinse it off. Then cut off the stem. After that cut it in half, and then into quarters. While I had it apart I did pull out the piece of the stem. You will instantly have four portions of salad, that is fresh and crisp all through as well as visually appealing.
Step 7: Finished
I added a bit of spinach on the plate for a tender and bitter element, plus the plate seemed a bit bare. After, I leaned the bacon against the lettuce, almost in place of a crouton, and as a personal preference I put a bit of bleu cheese dressing over it, and dug in.
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