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How to Boil Bacon

author image A.J. Andrews
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.
How to Boil Bacon
English bacon remembles Canadian bacon with a thick fat layer on one side. Photo Credit: David Pimborough/iStock/Getty Images

Start to Finish: 5 minutes for American sliced bacon, 1 hour for English bacon Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty: Easy

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You typically boil American bacon to temper its saltiness and smokiness, making it useful in dishes where you want its "chew" but not its propensity to hijack the other flavors in the dish. Boiled English bacon, which comes from a different cut of pork than American bacon does, often refers to a stand-alone dish of boiled bacon, cabbage and carrots -- you can practically hear Big Ben toll and the River Thames flow when you serve this dish. The boiling in both preparations mainly differ in cooking time.

(Recipe adapted from

American Bacon

Step 1

Place the bacon in a saucepan or pot. Cover the bacon with 3 inches of cold water.

Step 2

Bring the water to a boil on the stove. Lower the temperature until the water simmers slightly.

Step 3

Simmer the bacon for 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon from the pot to a plate lined with paper towels using a slotted spoon to drain. Reserve the water for use as bacon stock, if desired.

If you're using slab bacon, simmer it for 10 to 12 minutes; use the shorter cooking time for cuts that weigh under 1 pound and the longer time for cuts above 1 pound.

Boiled English Bacon

Step 1

Add the bacon, onion, herbs and peppercorns to a stockpot. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients and bring it to a simmer. Tie the herbs in a bunch with twine to make removing them easier.

Step 2

Simmer the bacon for 45 minutes. Spoon off the foam from the water as the bacon simmers.

Step 3

Add the carrots to the stockpot and cook the bacon for an additional 15 minutes. Ladle off about 3/4 cup of the water from the stockpot and transfer it to a saucepan.

Step 4

Add the cabbage to the stockpot and cook everything for another 10 minutes. Add the cream to the saucepan of reserved bacon stock.

Step 5

Simmer the mustard and cream for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6

Take the stockpot off the stove or transfer it to a cool burner. Remove the bacon from the stockpot using tongs and slice it crosswise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices.

Step 7

Set the bacon on a plate and drizzle it with a little stock. Serve the bacon with the carrots and cabbage, and serve the sauce on the side.

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