How to Make Bacon for a Crap-Ton of People
People will defend brunch until the end, even if—or maybe because—it leaves us in a drunkish, hazy state by 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, $15 poorer following a plate of mediocre eggs and potatoes we could have made, better and cheaper, ourselves. Take as proof the comments section on the now-infamous New York Times op-ed, "Brunch Is for Jerks." Everyone who responded did so with passion. Half the commenters were bemused at these entitled millennials with their “conspicuous consumption.” The other half were folks angrily channeling the hollering, be-muscled Gerard Butler in 300: This is brunch! And we love it.
I am somewhere between the two parties: I’m an early riser, so by the time standard New York City brunch rolls around anywhere between noon and 4 p.m., I’ve already had breakfast and elevenses and possibly lunch too. But I do love the idea of it, a lazy morning(ish) meal with all your people and nowhere to go. I actually don’t think we host brunch at home often enough—maybe because the prospect of poaching eggs or making bacon for a crowd can feel totally overwhelming, especially if you are anticipating coinciding a hangover with your brunch prep. Going out and spending the cash feels like the easier option.
But I’ve already told you how to poach all those eggs for a crowd (which does require a little forethought, but you could always go for a crowd-pleasing scramble instead), and making a zillion slices of bacon couldn’t be easier, or more efficient. In fact, bacon is one of the few things that actually, blessedly, somehow becomes easier to make when you want to cook for a whole gang of folks than it is when you’re just making it for yourself. (If only more things were like this.)
As I see it, there’s no reason to ever make bacon any other way, and it might make you feel so jazzed you’ll be inspired to plot ahead to bring next weekend’s brunch plans home. Here is how to do it:
Plan for about 1 pound of bacon for every 3 to 4 people, and know that you can fit about a pound of bacon on a half-sheet pan (a.k.a. about the size of your garden-variety cookie sheet). Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a rimmed (it really needs to be rimmed) sheet pan with foil. I like to fold up the edges just slightly, which helps keep the bacon fat contained and your pan clean. Arrange the bacon in a single layer, keeping some room between the slices but not getting too fussy about it.
When the oven is hot, slide in the bacon and let it cook: 15 minutes for cooked and golden but not particularly crisp, 20 to 25 minutes for extra crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined dish and serve. Carefully remove the foil with the bacon fat, either crumpling up the whole thing and throwing it away or pouring off the fat into a jar or ramekin to save for frying eggs, sautéeing Brussels sprouts, or making DIY bacon candles.