The beauty of cooking in a crock pot is the number of things that can be done in it with such ease. And it’s a healthy option too. The crock pot works on the principle of slow cooking which means you don’t end up losing nutrients like you would with other forms of cooking like deep frying.
So, if you are a fan of stews filled with meat or savory soups, you have chosen the right means. The slow cooking helps loosen the meat while bringing its rich flavor out and retaining its nutritional value.
If you thought bacon was an exception to crock pot cooking, we are here to change your mind. We will also get your started with a couple of recipes. Keep reading.
Cooking Bacon in a Crock Pot: Is It Even Possible?
Very much so. Technically speaking, you can slow cook bacon in a crock pot but you must remember that while this is a smart way to make it soft, you might also end up making it chewy which is not pleasant.
To avoid the unpleasant chewy aspect of it, what you need to do is fry the bacon in the beginning using a skillet or an oven. You just need to do this before you get started with the slow cooking process and it needs to be cooked separately. This way, all you need to do is add the bacon to the crock pot in the end when the rest of the ingredients are well cooked. This will make it tender enough but also leave a little crispiness that is often so desired with bacon dishes.
For some recipes, you might want to cut the bacon into small pieces so that the outside parts remain crisp while the inside gets cooked. This style method of cooking is also applicable to a soup or a stew except it won’t be crispy.
Things to Note before You Cook
Here are a few tips that will help you cook the bacon at hand efficiently.
- Cut the bacon into little bites so that it cooks better.
- As the name suggests, slow cooking takes time. With bacon in the crock pot you need to be extra patient and wait till it is cooked just the right amount.
- The heat must be kept at low if you are cooking bacon in the slow cooker.
- If you are frying the bacon beforehand, you must keep the heat at mid-high.
- Grab a few paper towels to get rid of the grease after cooking.
Why Fry It in the Beginning?
The process of frying bacon before you add it to the contents of the crock pot might seem like an unnecessary extra step. This is because the idea of slow cooking is based on the fact that people don’t have a whole lot of time.
Slow cookers are popularly used by those who would like to throw a bunch of ingredients into the cooker and let it cook overnight. This way, they have hot and delicious food for the next day without having to spend too much time cooking. It saves them from eating junk or less nutritious food that is not home cooked.
So, when you add an extra step like frying the bacon beforehand, it might seem counterproductive. But here’s why it works.
It’s kind of like that Neil Armstrong thing about, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. But you know, in the kitchen. Frying bacon beforehand helps you avoid the brittle or soggy end result that might spoil the entire meal.
This is particularly true if your recipe involves making the meat brown or sautéing the veggies. In these cases, if you fry the bacon, you get a good flavor and texture added to the overall meal.
Recipe 1: Bacon and Beans
Take for instance, the popular slow cooker dish: bacon and beans. This is popular because it is easy and healthy. The ingredients are not exotic and well, there’s bacon. Here we go.
- White onion
- Salt and pepper
- Step 1: Clean the beans by rinsing them.
- Step 2: Dice the onion and garlic.
- Step 3: Fry the bacon till it is crisp and juicy enough. We say enough because it is a matter of personal preference. You could also throw in the garlic and onions if you want to sauté them. This is also great because the onion and garlic fries in bacon fat which makes the end result thicker and richer.
- Step 4: Once the bacon cools down, cut it into small pieces.
- Step 5: Add the onion, garlic, bacon and beans to the slow cooker.
- Step 6: Add some water and let it cook on high settings for 4-5 hours. Then turn the heat to low and let it cook for 8-9 hours.
And that’s how it is done, kids.
Recipe 2: Bacon-Wrapped BBQ with Chicken
If you are looking to mix it up a bit, here’s a bacon and chicken recipe. This one is a bit sweet and smokey. It is also easy to make and delicious.
- Boneless chicken breasts (2)
- Lemon juice
- Brown sugar
- Bacon slices (6)
- BBQ sauce (half a cup)
- Apple slices
- Salt and pepper
- Step 1: Take a bowl and mix the lemon juice, sugar, apple slices and BBQ sauce well.
- Step 2: Take three bacon slices and wrap them around one chicken breast.
- Step 3: Take the bacon-wrapped chicken and put it in the slow cooker. Make sure the side with the seams is facing the pot’s bottom.
- Step 4: Add the concoction in the bowl to the crock pot.
- Step 5: Let this mix cook for about 6 hours.
- Step 6: When you open it, the chicken will be well-cooked. Keep it aside and run the liquid in the crock pot through a strainer. This will end up being a side that tastes like apple sauce. You can also add it to the chicken if that’s something you would enjoy.
This cooked chicken breast with bacon wrapping can be served with the likes of baked potatoes or roasted asparagus.
For this recipe, you might have to open and check the crock pot once in a while to make sure that the chicken does not get overcooked. You can start doing that about three hours after you pack everything in.
This isn’t what you might have had in mind when you went for a slow cooker recipe but you will end up with a lovely chicken and bacon dish.
If You’re Avoiding Fried Food
If you’re trying to get rid of fried food from the agenda, there is a way around it. Like in the previous recipe, you can use bacon slices to wrap another meat and season it. You won’t get the crisp texture but hey, you will have bacon.
If that won’t work, your other option is to trade the bacon for ham hock. It is widely agreed to be a decent trade-off that gives you a similar flavor. And you can easily find cut ham hocks that are tenderized so that you can use them in a crock pot.
The Bottom Line
Crock pots are a great way to have a delicious meal, keep it healthy with minimum effort, all at the same time. And for something that takes all night to cook a dish, they do keep the electricity bill pleasantly under control. Unless you are dealing with seafood like clams, fish or oysters, crock pots are little magic boxes that can cook almost anything.
You might also enjoy: