Tomatoes are the base of some of our favorite dishes: spicy salsas, sweet marinara sauces, and summery Caprese salads. Pretty much nothing beats a perfectly in season summer tomato, but even in the winter we’ll search out vine-ripened and cherry tomatoes to get our fix.
Cherry tomatoes are delicate enough to be eaten whole, but larger tomato varieties, like beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, have a fibrous core at the top of the tomato that should be removed before using it in a recipe. It won’t hurt you, but it has an unpleasant woody texture. This core can be tough to remove with a regular kitchen knife, but a paring knife is the perfect tool for the job.
Remove the core from a tomato
Step 1: Choose a Ripe Tomato
Let’s not waste our efforts on sub-par fruits (yes, it’s a fruit). Ripe tomatoes are easier to work with and will have a sweeter flavor. Look for a tomato that is plump and firm to the touch, but not too hard.
Step 2: Cut Off the Stem
If the stem is still attached, pull it away or remove it with a knife. Hold the tomato steady with one hand and use the paring knife to cut around the stem, making a small circular cut. Then, gently lift the stem off the tomato and discard it.
Step 3: Make a Small Incision
Holding the paring knife by the back of the blade, make a small incision at the top of the tomato where the stem was removed. Be careful not to cut too deep, as you only want to cut through the skin and not the flesh of the tomato.
Step 4: Remove the Core
Once you have made the incision, insert the tip of the paring knife into the tomato and gently twist it to create a small hole. Then, insert the knife a little deeper and twist it again. Continue this process, working your way around the core of the tomato, until you have removed the entire top part of the core.
Watch our chef demonstrate this technique below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more cooking videos.
Instead of scooping rice into the bottom of your bowl, then pouring the curry on top, we do exactly the opposite. On top of our steaming, lemongrass-scented bowl of tofu or shrimp curry, we scoop out a perfect dome of rice.
To make the dome, pull a small, shallow bowl from your cabinet. Something you might normally use for cereal will work perfectly. Pack about half of the rice into your bowl, and press in down with a spoon. This will help everything stick together. Turn the bowl upside down and nudge the packed rice out of it, on top of your bowl.
To eat, use a spoon to gently break apart the rice and scoop up a bit of curry. It’s easy to get a spoonful of sauce and a bit of rice in each bite. To make this dish even more beautiful, garnish with chopped scallions and a few cilantro leaves.
Curry recipes topped with a rice dome
Thai Shrimp Soup with Coconut, Lemongrass & Red Curry
In this recipe, we’re using lemongrass, an ancient Southeast Asian herb, two different ways. First, we’re smashing one of the stalks, and simmering it in the coconut milk broth to infuse the dish with flavor. We’re also thinly slicing another stalk and briefly sautéing it with other aromatics (garlic, ginger and scallion). This step brings a wonderful crunch to the rich curry, adding texture and brightness to each bite.
Coconut-Poached Tofu with Lemongrass and Red Curry
Mild tofu and bright herbs like ginger, garlic, and lemongrass bring a refreshing crunch to this delicate, creamy soup.
So, you roasted your chicken. Nicely done! It came out perfectly—crispy skin and juicy meat. But now you want to chop it up into edible pieces that you can elegantly serve to guests. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds! All you need to carve a whole chicken is a knife, a cutting board, and that chicken.
Watch our test kitchen chef demonstrate his technique below.
How to carve a whole chicken
Step 1: Gather your tools and set up your workspace.
Before you start cutting, make sure you have the right tools for the job. You’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of kitchen shears to help with cutting through bones.
Step 2: Remove the legs.
Start by removing the legs of the chicken. Hold onto the leg and pull it away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint with your knife or kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side.
Step 3: Remove the wings.
Next, remove the wings. Pull the wing away from the body to expose the joint. Cut through the joint with your knife or kitchen shears. Repeat on the other side.
Step 4: Separate the drumstick from the thigh.
To separate the drumstick from the thigh, locate the joint and cut through it with your knife or kitchen shears.
Step 5: Cut the breast in half.
Place the chicken breast-side up on the cutting board. Use your knife to cut down the center of the breastbone. Cut through the rib bones to separate the two halves of the breast.
Step 6: Remove the backbone.
Flip the chicken over so the back is facing up. Use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard or save for making stock.
Step 7: Cut the breast into smaller pieces.
Cut each half of the breast into two smaller pieces by cutting through the middle of each half.
Step 8: Cut the thighs in half.
Cut each thigh in half by cutting through the middle of the meat.
Now you have successfully cut up a whole chicken! Don’t worry if you don’t get it perfect on the first try— it takes practice to get the hang of it. With this knowledge, you can now use different parts of the chicken for various recipes, such as roasted chicken, fried chicken, chicken soup, and more. So go ahead and experiment with your new skills and enjoy your homemade chicken dishes.
Lemongrass is a herb that has been used in Southeast Asian cuisine for centuries. The plant is native to Thailand, Vietnam, and India and has a citrusy aroma that adds a refreshing flavor to rice or noodle dishes. Learn how to cook with lemongrass and bring this beautiful flavor to your kitchen.
How to cut lemongrass:
The tough outer leaves of lemongrass are inedible, so they need to be removed. To cut lemongrass, you’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board. Here are the steps to follow:
Start by trimming off the root end of the stalk, leaving about 2 inches of the bulbous base intact.
Cut off the top portion of the lemongrass, about 2-3 inches from the tip of the stalk.
Remove the tough outer layers of the lemongrass by gently peeling them away with your fingers or a knife until you reach the softer, pale-yellow interior layers.
Once you’ve peeled away the tough outer layers, you can slice the lemongrass into thin rounds or chop it into small pieces for use in recipes.
How to cook with lemongrass
Lemongrass is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some common ways to use it in your cooking:
Infuse it in soups and broths: Add sliced lemongrass to your chicken or vegetable broth to add a citrusy flavor to your soups and stews.
Use it in marinades and dressings: Lemongrass can be combined with other ingredients like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to create a flavorful marinade for meats or a zesty dressing for salads.
Add it to curries and stir-fries: Lemongrass pairs well with coconut milk, curry paste, and vegetables in Thai and Vietnamese curries. You can also use it in stir-fries with meats or tofu.
Brew it into tea: Lemongrass tea is a popular beverage in Southeast Asia and is said to have a calming effect on the body. To make lemongrass tea, steep sliced lemongrass in hot water for several minutes.
Knowing how to properly cut lemongrass and incorporating it into your cooking can elevate your meals and introduce new flavors to your palate.
Preparing a whole fish at home might sound intimidating, but we promise: this recipes comes together in about 15 minutes.
This recipe was inspired by the steamed ginger and scallion fish at Noyona, a Malaysian restaurant in NYC. This fish is cooked whole, then doused with a sweet, salty, and aromatic sauce that flavors the delicate fish perfectly. Make sure to have some rice ready to go on the back burner, you’ll want something to soak up all the extra delicious sauce on your plate.
How to debone a whole fish
The bone should slip out from the flesh easily once steamed. To remove, use a spoon to lightly separate the head from the filets on the body. Run the spoon tightly against the length of the spine, making an incision. Then push the spoon further into the filet from the spine, the filet should loosen and separate from the spine leaving the bones behind; flip the filet to be skin side down on the plate. Spoon the sauce over the cooked fish fillets. While the head is edible, if you choose to not eat it, remove the bones from the fish by lifting the head, the spine will follow, and discard.
How to eat a whole fish
For a beautiful presentation, we recommend serving this fish whole on a large platter. Don’t attempt to cut the fish with a knife. Instead, use a fork to pull the meat away from the bones. After the first side is picked clean, flip the fish over and repeat on the other side. Don’t forget about the fish cheeks! This cheeks are located on the head of the fish, right behind the eyes. This is the most tender part of a fish.
Where to buy a whole fish
You can find whole fish by visiting your local fishmonger, or by checking out the seafood counter at your grocery store and placing a special order.
Whole Branzino with Soy-Ginger Glaze
Serves 2 | Cook Time: 25 to 35 minutes
1 piece ginger
1 small bunch cilantro
1-1.5 lbs whole bone-in branzino, gutted and scaled*
2 Tbsps soy sauce
½ Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsps vegetable oil
Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel the ginger, then cut into thin strips to get 2 tablespoons. Thinly slice the scallions on an angle, separating the white bottoms and hollow green tops. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems to get 2 tablespoons; discard the stems.
Set up the steamer & steam the fish: Start by double checking sizes. You want a steamer** that fits the size of the fish on a heat proof plate*** and also fits nicely into a pot with a lid. Once you have everything gathered, place about 1 inch of water in the pot and heat to boiling on high. Meanwhile, rinse the fish to take off any lingering scales. Place the fish on the heatproof plate. Once boiling, carefully place the plate of fish in the steamer. Cover and steam 15 to 20 minutes, or until opaque and cooked through.****
Make the sauce: While the fish teams, in a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of warm water. In a small pan, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high until hot. Add the sliced ginger and sliced white bottoms of the scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the soy sauce mixture (carefully, as the liquid may splatter) and half the cilantro leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has slightly thickened. Turn off the heat.
Finish & serve your dish: Discard any liquid that has pooled on the plate of steamed fish. Carefully remove the fish bone. Pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish with the sliced green top of the scallions and the remaining cilantro leaves. Enjoy!
*CHEF TIP: Not all branzino are farmed the same way. Talk to your fishmonger to see if they were sustainably sourced. Sustainable fishing is critical to protect the Earth’s natural supply of seafood. We partner with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, a highly respected non-profit organization recognized as an authority on seafood sustainability, and only source seafood that Seafood Watch has rated “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” or that has a comparable third-party verified sustainability certification (Marine Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices or Aquaculture Stewardship Council). The fishmonger can also clean the fish for you if it’s not already done. The scales should be removed and the inner organs should be removed.
**CHEF TIP: Some steamers will be too small to fit the whole fish. You can snip off the tail to make it fit better. If your steamer is still too small you can make a DIY steamer. Use a large, high sided skillet or braiser with a lid and place an empty tinned-fish can inside. Fill the skillet with about 1 inch of water. And there you have it!
***CHEF TIP: Steam the fish in a heat-proof plate or vessel you wish to serve in, as the fish will be too delicate to transfer without falling apart (which isn’t the worst thing!)
****The USDA recommends a minimum safe cooking temperature of 145°F for fish.
Today, we’re talking about improving your spaghetti endgame so that your pasta primaveratastes like it’s from the best Italian restaurant in the world. Learning how to finish pasta will help take your spaghetti dinners from good to great.
If you know how to cook, chances are you can make a plate of pasta just fine. If you love noodles, there are a few secret tips that separate your average bowl of penne with tomato sauce from a lip-smackingly delicious dish of Fresh Rigatoni with Spicy Pork Ragu.
Of course, there are tricks for cooking: use plenty of water, season adequately with salt, let it come to a roiling boil before you introduce the noodles, and then pair them with a delicious sauce. These steps are all crucial, but the most important step comes after the pasta is mostly cooked.
Here’s the trick: when the pasta is 90 percent cooked, remove it from the pot. But don’t toss the water! Reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water in a little bowl or cup. That water is no longer plain old H20. Now it’s salty and starchy and a key ingredient in its own right.
For this trick to work, you need to have your pasta sauce simmering on the stove in a separate pan. Transfer the mostly cooked pasta to the pan of sauce along with a little bit of pasta water. The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce. This does two things. First, as your noodles finish cooking each morsel will absorb more flavor from the sauce. Second, the starchiness of the pasta water will help thicken the sauce so it coats each bite of pasta instead of pooling in the bottom of your bowl.
You have a signature scent, but do you have a signature soup? Within the beautiful world of soup, there’s infinite room to customize. Your favorite bowl might be a light brothy soup spiked with spices like anise and cinnamon, or a hearty stew rilled with tomatoes, noodles, and beans. When it comes to creating your signature dish, choosing the best noodles for soup is just as important as deciding on the flavor profile.
For light soups with fragrant spices, long noodles can enhance the flavor. When you eat ramen or long rice noodles, the twirling and slurping aerates the broth, bringing the aromatic flavors forward. This wouldn’t work as well in a thick soup, where managing long noodles could make things very messy. For hearty broths, look for a short noodle that will fit on your spoon.
The best noodles for soup
Fast-cooking rice noodles are generally made from rice flour and water and are a favorite in soups, salads and stir-fries. Unlike wheat noodles, which get their chewiness from gluten proteins, rice noodles owe their deliciously chewy texture to a naturally occurring substance called amylose. Their thickness can range from skinny vermicelli to thicker, wider varieties, but all rice noodles have a delicate flavor and texture that’s ideal for soaking up flavorful sauces and broths.
Wonderfully springy and delicious, fresh ramen noodles are a true delight. First brought to Japan by Chinese traders in the 19th Century, ramen has since become a national staple, with a seemingly endless variety of ramen dishes and ramen restaurants peppering the nation. This irresistibly customizable dish can contain a range of fillings, however it’s hard to argue that the true star of a good ramen is undeniably its noodles. Our fresh ramen noodles are made by Sun Noodle, with little more than flour, water and salt, and need just a quick bath in boiling water to achieve perfectly chewy texture and hearty flavor.
Ditalini, literally translated to “little fingers,” is a small, tubular pasta commonly found in Italian and Sicilian cuisines. Because of its small size (you can fit a few into a spoon), this pasta is perfect for soups.
Although it resembles a grain like rice or barley (and indeed, its name comes from the Italian for “barley”), delicious orzo is actually a short pasta. Particularly popular in soups, pasta salads or pilafs, orzo is a favorite in Greek and Italian cuisines alike. Orzo noodles soak up a lot of broth, so they can be a great way to thicken soup.
Generally thought to have originated in China (although Arabic and Italian cuisines have laid claim to them, as well), egg noodles are made from flour, egg, and water. The addition of egg to the dough makes the noodles chewier and shinier than regular pasta. Often ribbon-shaped, egg noodles eagerly absorb liquids, so they work well in sauces, casseroles, and soups.
Acini de pepe
These tiny beads of pasta are a perfect way to bulk up meals like Italian wedding soup. They’re even smaller than orzo, and will absorb slightly less broth.
Looking to take your noodle soup to the next level? Learn how to make your own broth from leftover kitchen scraps.
Cut down prep time in the kitchen by finessing your knife skills. Once you’ve mastered chopping onions, garlic, and carrots, it’s time to learn how to dice a sweet potato.
Chopping sweet potatoes can be tricky. First of all: sweet potatoes are quite hard when raw, and it can take a little force to get a knife through them. This means you should be extra careful to keep your fingers out of the way.
The second obstacle is that sweet potatoes are rounded. When they’re whole, they have a tendency to roll around on the cutting board. When dicing a sweet potato, the first step is to create a flat surface to work with. To do this, first use a Chef’s knife to remove the pointed ends. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin if you choose, but they’re completely edible. Once the ends are gone, lay the sweet potato on the counter and cut into long planks. Once you’ve created planks, lie them flat on a cutting board. Cut each of these new planks into one inch wide sticks, the shape of a large sweet potato fry. To finish off the dice, align sticks so that you can chop several at once and work the knife through to form a rough dice.
Video: how to medium dice a sweet potato quickly
Not that you know how to dice a sweet potato, try some of our favorite recipes.
A vegetarian grain bowls with a base of hearty barley is served with a bevy of toppings: roasted sweet potato and brussels sprouts (finished with hot honey), tender kale, pickled shallot, crunchy walnuts, and a dollop of creamy yogurt to bring it all together.
This homemade Chex mix recipe was contributed by Jules Esposito. Jules Esposito is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Event planner by day and freelance food writer by night, cooking is always on her mind.
Think about what makes the perfect bite. To me, it’s all about a variety of textures. Consider the fried chicken sandwich. There’s a reason they’re currently all the rage at fast food restaurants. The crispy chicken, smooth sauce, crunchy pickle chips, and fluffy buttered bread come together and create a symphony of texture. A satisfying bite is what makes a meal memorable. I believe the same is true for snack food. When it comes to snacking, one texture is more appealing than all others—the addictively noisy crunch. As a crunch-lover, I can’t think of a more perfect snack food than Chex mix. The cereal-based blend has a variety of textures and the ability to take on almost any flavor profile. It’s the ideal candidate for leisurely snacking.
When was Chex Mix invented?
Our love affair with Chex mix began back in 1955, when the wife of Ralston Purina brought her homemade party mix to a holiday gathering. Does the name Purina sound familiar? If you’re thinking of dog food, then you’re on the right track. Before Purina started making puppy chow, he created the human chow we have come to know and love. Not to worry—the businesses have been kept entirely separate, so you won’t find any kibble in the classic blue bag. According to General Mills, Purina created the first version of pre-packaged Chex Mix in 1987. Back then, it was offered in just two flavors—traditional and cheddar. Nine years later the cereal conglomerate purchased Chex mix and expanded to offer the sixteen flavors we know today.
Making DIY Chex mix at home is an easy way to clear out your pantry, feed a crowd, or satisfy any cravings you may be having. I’ve broken down Chex mix snacking into three unique flavor profiles: sweet, savory, and spicy. All of these recipes can be altered or substituted based on what you have in your pantry. Get creative and try them out!
Sweet & Salty Chex Mix Recipe
As a lover of the sweet and salty combo, I know that the balance of sugar and salt can make or break a snack. When you get it just right, it’s pure bliss. This sweet and salty Chex mix recipe is inspired by another nostalgic favorite: Seven-Layer bars. The sweet element comes from coconut flakes, graham cracker crumble, and a drizzle of dark chocolate. Topping with flaky sea salt balances it all out and completes this flavor profile.
2 Cups sweetened coconut, toasted
5 Cups chocolate Chex
4 Cups corn Chex
1 Cup Rolos, cut in half
1 Cup crushed graham crackers
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Cup chocolate chips, melted
Flaky sea salt to top
Powdered sugar, to top
Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Evenly distribute coconut on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Toast the coconut in the oven, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. About 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine both Chex cereals and the Rolos.
Into a separate small bowl, crush the graham crackers with your hands, keeping some coin-sized chunks.
Pour the melted butter over the graham cracker crumbs and stir to combine (this will help it stick to the cereal).
After the toasted coconut has cooled, combine the coconut and graham cracker crumbles with the Chex and Rolo mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork or piping bag to drizzle the melted chocolate over the Chex mix. Add sea salt if desired.
Place the tray in the fridge to set. Once the chocolate has hardened, break apart the chunks, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Savory Seasoned Chex Mix
For a savory chex mix, I wanted to create something that wasn’t just salty. This everything bagel-inspired Chex mix recipe is full of deep, savory flavor from Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and copious amounts of everything bagel seasoning. Add bagel chips and pretzels, and you’ll end up with a snack that has just as many flavors as textures.
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
¼ Cup everything bagel seasoning
3 Cups rice Chex
3 Cups corn Chex
2 Cups wheat Chex
1 ½ Cups crushed pretzels
1 ½ Cups everything bagel chips
1 Cup potato chips
Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and everything bagel seasoning.
Measure and combine all Chex cereals in a large bowl. Lightly crush pretzels and both chip varieties so they are bite-sized (roughly the size of the Chex) and add to the bowl.
Pour the butter mixture over the cereal and combine. Distribute the mix evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with more everything seasoning, if desired.
Bake at 250ºF for 15 minute intervals, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted. Let cool and enjoy!
Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chex Mix Recipe
In any crowd, there is always someone who loves heat. How spicy? Well, now that’s the question! This recipe can be adjusted to satisfy everyone—from fans of mild spice to wicked-hot wing lovers. Simply add more buffalo sauce or ranch seasoning to tailor it to your needs, bake, and enjoy!
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. Buffalo ranch seasoning (or more if desired)
¼ Cup Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (or more if desired)
3 Cups rice Chex
3 Cups corn Chex
2 Cups wheat Chex
1 ½ Cups Cheez-Its
1 ½ Cups pretzels, lightly crushed
1 ½ Cups bagel chips, lightly crushed
Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, Buffalo ranch seasoning, and Buffalo sauce. Stir to combine.
Measure and combine all Chex cereals in a large bowl. Lightly crush Cheez-Its, pretzels, and bagel chips with hands so they are bite-sized and add to mix.
Pour the butter mixture over the cereal mixture and combine well. Distribute evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with additional Buffalo Ranch seasoning if desired.
Bake at 250ºF for 15 minute intervals, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted. Let cool and enjoy!
Still feeling snacky? Try these homemade jalapeño poppers, it’s hard not to love them.
Leftover turkey sandwich Friday is as much of a tradition as Thanksgiving itself. We love thick slices of turkey slathered with cranberry sauce and gravy in between two slices of hearty bread. If you’re feeling wild, toss a little stuffing in there too. We’re not here to knock the classic approach, but if you look forward to leftovers as much as we do, you might love this alternative take on a leftover turkey sandwich.
The spirit here remains the same—it’s all about mixing together and piling up leftovers. Here, we’re transforming the experience into a warm and gooey sandwich reminiscent of a sloppy joe.
To do this, we’re taking our turkey and shredding it. Use two forks to pull a few slices of turkey apart into thick strands, as shown above. Once you have a sizable pile (however much you’d like to eat), add it to a medium-sized sauce pot with a few spoonfuls of gravy. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn, until the gravy has melted into a saucy texture and the turkey is warmed through.
Even the simplest version of this sandwich will be delicious. For a quick and easy preparation serve your turkey and gravy mixture over a single slice of toast. Eat it as an open-faced sandwich, or grab a knife and fork.
If you’re craving a little more decadence, go all out and load your sandwich up with fixings. We created an over-the-top breakfast sandwich with pulled turkey and gravy, bacon, cranberry sauce, lettuce, and a fried egg. For a little textural contrast, we recommend serving on buttery Texas toast.
Try this technique to give your leftovers new life on Friday. This might become your new favorite way to create a turkey delicious breakfast or hearty lunch. Once you’ve finished your sandwich, check out some of our favorite ways to enjoy leftover mashed potatoes, greens, and pie.
If you like bacon, you like pork belly. Bacon and pork belly are the same cut of meat, prepared and sold in slightly different forms. This versatile protein is an easy way to add savory decadence to dinner. Here’s how to get the most out of this delicious ingredient.
What is pork belly?
Pork belly is a thick, fatty cut of meat from the belly of a pig. The fat is what makes this cut so special—it adds plenty of rich flavors. Unlike bacon, this product isn’t cured. While bacon comes pre-loaded with smoky and sweet flavors, this protein will have a pure and versatile pork flavor. It’s typically sold in a large slab and served in thick pieces. When compared to bacon, these thicker pieces are meatier and chewier.
How is Blue Apron’s pork belly made?
Blue Apron’s pork belly arrives fully cooked. Before it’s shipped to you, the meat is seasoned and cooked in a water bath. This method, also known as sous vide, creates tender evenly cooked meat.
All about fat
When you look at a slice, you can clearly see the striped layers of meat and white fat. You’ll also see an extra-thick stripe around the exterior, known as the fat cap. There’s no need to remove this. The extra fat is delicious, and much of it will render out during the cooking process. When the meat is cooked at a high temperature, the fat melts and renders out. The meat fries in the newly melted fat, creating a flavorful brown crust with a delightfully crispy texture.
How to cut it
The best way to cut pork belly depends on your dish. We recommend using a sturdy chef’s knife to create ½ inch slices. Pieces this size will sear quickly and offer a combination of crispy and chewy textures.
Searing pork belly
Even though it’s fully cooked, we recommend searing the meat before serving. You don’t need to cook it all the way through. The goal is to warm it through and create a crispy crust.
Keep the fat
Once it’s in the pan, you’ll notice that a lot of fat is melting out. This is normal! When the meat is removed, some melted fat will remain behind in the pan. This bonus fat is a blessing, so be sure to save it. Leftover pork fat can be used in place of butter or olive oil in most recipes. Strain any leftovers and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week, and dispose of them if they starts to smell off. Try using your leftovers to fry breakfast potatoes or to make a rich pie dough.
This guide to oven cooking with bacon was contributed by Jonathan Bender. Jonathan is a food writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s the author of a pair of cookbooks: Stock, Broth & Bowl and Cookies & Beer.
Crispy. Fatty. Smoky. The sizzle is real. Let’s talk about bacon—the glorious strips on a B.L.T. and the crispy bits that make dish extra special.
We’ve put together a guide that helps you learn about the different types of bacon, including the difference between bacon and pork belly. We’ll walk you through how to defrost and cook bacon, as well as what to do with bacon grease and (the unlikely event of) leftover bacon.
Discover exactly what cookware you need and the right temperature, along with a few tips and tricks, for beautifully crispy bacon. Read on for a collection of recipes to let you enjoy your newfound bacon knowledge.
Getting started: Choosing the right bacon
The variety of bacon terminology can get confusing; but it’s also a helpful clue about what part of the pig was used to make the bacon.
Bacon slices, sometimes called “streaky bacon” for the white runs of fat, are most commonly made from pork belly. Here, we’re talking crackling strips for BLTs, bacon-wrapped figs and backyard cheeseburgers.
Canadian bacon or back bacon (loin),cottage bacon (shoulder), jowl bacon (cheek meat) and slab bacon (sides) are all different cuts you may encounter. The wide slices of back bacon and thin slices of lean cottage bacon can both anchor a breakfast sandwich, while fatty jowl bacon adds smokiness and depth to greens.
Chop thick slices of slab bacon (cubed or sticks of slab bacon are often called lardons) and tuck them inside tortillas for tacos, sprinkle atop pasta, or sneak some pieces in a gooey grilled cheese.
What’s the difference between bacon and pork belly?
This is a bit of a square vs. rectangle situation. Bacon is usually (but not always) made from pork belly; but pork belly isn’t bacon unless it’s been cured.
Bacon is typically cured (salt and seasoning is added to draw out moisture) and/or smoked before it’s packaged. Pork belly (named for the butcher’s cut, it comes from the belly of a pig) is sold fresh and often has a band of fat at the top, as well as fat marbled throughout the meat. Pork belly can be served in thick slices, crispy cubes, or thin strips.
What’s the difference between pancetta and bacon?
Pancetta is also made from pork belly. Unlike bacon, pancetta is not cured or smoked before it is packaged. It’s generally ok to substitute chopped bacon for pancetta in most recipes, though it may add an additional smoky flavor. You can also substitute pancetta in recipes that use small pieces of bacon, or lardons.
A note on cooking cured versus uncured bacon
Uncured bacon or pork belly is best when it can be cooked for a long time at a low temperature in order to let the fat slowly render down, transforming your slice into tender bites. Braising and smoking pork belly are popular choices. Overcooked pork belly—either at too high a temperature or for too long—can make your meat tough or rubbery in texture.
Methods for defrosting bacon
You have several options when it comes to thawing frozen bacon. If you know you’re making brunch on the weekend, place frozen bacon in the refrigerator on a plate or defrosting tray the day before you want to cook.
Need bacon to thaw faster? Put your unopened package of frozen bacon on a wire rack in your sink. Then, run a slow, steady stream of cool water over the bacon. It should thaw in roughly 30 minutes. Once you’re able to separate the slices, cook them immediately.
How to cook bacon on the stovetop
There are lots of effective ways to cook bacon. The one you choose will likely depend on your available cookware, the amount of people you’re feeding, and your tolerance for cleaning up grease. Let’s work our way from the top of the stove to your oven.
A skillet that stretches over two burners is best if you’re trying to cook a whole package of bacon strips. Cooking for two people? You can fit six strips of bacon (a little less than half of a one-pound package) in a 12-inch nonstick pan or cast iron pan.
Lay your bacon flat, making sure there’s a bit of space between each slice, on a cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium. When your bacon begins to curl at the edges, flip it to the other side. Flip your bacon frequently to ensure even cooking.
Pro tip: If you want extra crispy bacon, add enough cold water to cover the bottom of the pan while the skillet is still cold. The water will boil off, but before it does, it helps render the fat and reduces splatter. Your bacon will take a little longer to cook; but will be beautifully browned and add a nice bit of crunch to a salad or sandwich.
How to cook bacon in the oven
If you dread making bacon because of the mess and effort, you’ll want to try using a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Remember the rimmed part—grease will spill over the edges of a flat cookie sheet onto your oven floor.
For fewer dishes, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, which will help trap some of the grease and make clean-up easier. Crinkle your foil lightly before you use it so your slices sit slightly above the foil and crisp up without being saturated in grease.
You can also lay the bacon strips on a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet. The strips can be snug; but try to keep them from touching. While the strips cook, grease will drip through the rack (and be caught by the baking sheet) so your bacon is crispier.
Start your baking sheet in a cold oven. Heat to 400℉ and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. If you prefer your bacon well-done, opt for 450℉ and roughly 20 minutes. Cook until the bacon is evenly browned.
As for the microwave oven, save it for popcorn (with a bit of bacon grease). Bacon will brown and crisp up slightly—tuck slices between paper towels on top of a microwave safe plate—in your microwave; but it lacks crunch and char.
What to do with bacon grease
Keep in mind that hot bacon grease can melt a garbage bag, and bacon grease poured down the drain can solidify and cause a back up in your pipes. You have to be a bit intentional with bacon grease.
Let the grease cool slightly before you do anything else. If you’re not keeping your grease, pour it into a yogurt cup or empty metal can while it’s still warm. The grease will solidify as it cools. After it’s cooled, it can be safely tossed in the trash.
Before you head for the trash, consider saving bacon grease to reap the delicious dividends. Pour warm bacon grease into a heat-resistant container with an airtight lid. Use a fine mesh sieve or coffee filter to catch some of the solid bacon pieces. This will improve its shelf life in your fridge.
Refrigerated bacon grease should last at least three months (frozen grease will keep much longer). Your nose will let you know when it’s time to make a new batch.
Bacon grease is handy in the kitchen. It adds a bit of umami to roasted vegetables, fried chicken, or scrambled eggs. We love the depth that bacon grease, swapped for butter, lends to cookies and shortbreads.
A note on splatter:Once splatter has cooled slightly, spray an all-purpose cleaner on your stovetop or counter. Wait a minute, then wipe it up with paper towels or a sponge. If you’re cooking bacon often, consider getting a splatter screen which will keep the grease contained.
Can bacon be saved?
It sounds impossible; but sometimes there is leftover bacon. Cooked slices in a sealed container or bag will keep for five days in the fridge. Freezing bacon? Place slices individually on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet for several hours (or overnight) before transferring to a bag you can seal to avoid large frozen clumps of bacon. Bacon will keep for at least a month in the freezer.