Most of us have bought a good big slab of bacon, or even better made our own homemade bacon. But now we come to the good part of preparing and eating the bacon.
Either use a good sharp knife or a good quality slicer. But there are multiple ways to make your bacon into pieces or slices. Below I will go more into details on this and also on which direction that you want to slice your bacon in.
Why should I slice my own bacon
When you cook and you need bacon (you always need bacon). Each dish needs different sizes of bacon, some need the bacon to be thickly sliced and others need thin, and then again some need small or big squares.
When you have a good slab in the fridge you are able to fulfill each of those needs quick and easy with the right tools.
Thick or thin slices of bacon
Depending on what you need your bacon for the size of your bacon will also vary. Like if you are slicing your bacon to make over a campfire then you would need the slices to be a bit thicker so that they don’t burn too quickly.
Thou if you are trying to make a bacon-weaved bowl or basket then you would probably want the slices to be a bit thinner so that you are able to work with them.
Slicing bacon with a knife 🔪
First of before you start to slice your bacon make sure that it is cold so that it is a bit more firm and stiff in its structure.
You can do this by wrapping the bacon in some plastic wrap and then freeze it for around 15-25 min depending on how firm and how thin you want your slices to be. Just so that the meat is slightly frozen.
The thinner you want your slices the more firm you need your slab to be.
This will make it way easier to make your slices. It will also make it so that you need to sharpen your knife more often, but that is well worth the extra work. I like using a 12″ blade but depending on the size of the slabs you are cutting you can maybe do with a 10″ or an 8″ blade.
Advantages of using a knife.
- Quick and easy to set up
- Easy and small storage space needed
- Also used to make squares and pieces of bacon
- Very easy to clean
- Cheaper than a Slicing machine
Disadvantages to using a knife.
- Difficult to make evenly sized slices
- Difficult to make thin slices
- Needs to be sharpened regularly (check longer down for a guide on this)
- Takes longer time to slice a complete slab of bacon evenly
How to slice bacon on a slicer
Like when you slice your bacon with a knife you also want your slab to be firm and stiff when you are slicing with your slicer.
Depending on the size of fat lines in your slab you might need to freeze your slab for 10-15 min, wrap the bacon in some plastic wrap freeze it.
- Set up your slicer as per the instructions in the manual
- Set the thickness of the slices that you want
- Turn on the machine
- Start cutting and remember safety.
- NEVER GET YOUR HANDS CLOSE TO A MOVING SLICER.
- Cut the last bit with a knife.
- Clean up your slicer and pack it back up.
TIP: Do not put the blade into the dishwasher. The blade can either cut up your dishwasher and/or it will dull the blade, so you need to sharpen it more often.
Advantages of using a slicer.
- Quick and Easy to use once setup
- Can make big batches of evenly sized slices
- Fast work speed
- Can make great thin slices (with extra blade)
Disadvantages to using a slicer.
- Difficult to clean depending on your slicer model
- Takes time to set up and get ready for use.
- Fills up a good amount of space in the kitchen
- More expensive than a regular knife
Can I use a mandoline slicer?
No. I would not recommend that you use a mandoline slicer. The reason for this is multiple, first, you will need to have a small and narrow sized bacon. Besides that, the mandoline slicer is often not sharp enough to make easy clean cuts.
Which will just result in you getting more trouble then it will ease up your work, which is the whole idea. Don’t try to do it halfway if you want to make nice slices then get a good slicer.
How to cut raw bacon into small pieces, like a cube, Strips or Lardons
When cutting up the bacon into small cubes, squares or what other forms you want your bacon in there are a few things that you need.
- Slightly frozen bacon slab
- A very sharp knife
The Knife is key to make sure that you get fine pieces of meat rather then some mangled pieces that don’t look anywhere nice if your knife isn’t sharp check the section below on how to sharpen your knife.
If your knife isn’t really sharp or you are just in a hurry you can stack multiple pieces on top of each other.
- Take your knife and place one hand on top of the slab with the fingertips curled under. (This is for safety)
- Place the knife blade against your knuckles and cut off a slice of the bacon, the width of the cubes you want)
- Move your hand back a bit and slice another continue until you have the slices you need.
- Now place the 2-3 slice on top of each other and cut the meat into strips. Aim for ¼-inch strips.
- (You now have strips of bacon)
- If you want to make these into cubes then just line up several strips and cut em to the desired size.
- (You now have your bacon cubes)
How to cut into Lardons, and what is Lardons
- Place 3-5 slices of bacon on top of each other.
- Place the meat so you cut it on the short side.
- Take your knife and place one hand on top of the slices with the fingertips curled under. for safety)
- Place the knife blade against your knuckles and start slicing the bacon into small Lardon strips.
- Continue until the entire stack is done and then make more if needed.
Which direction to slice bacon?
Shall I follow the grain for the meat?
When cutting your bacon some people swear that you should cut as close to vertical on the grain as possible, so to get the most tender slice as possible.
Personally, I am of that meaning that it doesn’t really matter all that much but if it is possible for you to do it without any big hassle then, of course, go ahead and do it. Taste-wise it shouldn’t have anything to say it is mainly for the texture of the bacon.
This next part is mainly for when you have made your homemade bacon and not your store-bought slabs.
When shall I think about what direction I am slicing my bacon?
When you are about to prepare your pork belly for curing it is time for you to also take a look at your meat. Are the fat lines are they consistent through the meat or is one end fattier than the other?
If there is too much fat, then try and trim off some so that the bacon will end up more even.
When looking at your meat slab you have to think about how you are going to cut the bacon after it is cured and for what uses it is going to have.
Do you only need small 6” slices for the breakfast table bacon and eggs dish. Or do you need some big 10”-14” slices that are good for bacon wrapping.
Then simply slice your slab to the size that fits the purpose that is best for your needs after curing. That being said if you can make it so that you can get the grains of the meat to fit in the 90° angle then all the better.