When I heard that adding a little water to a pan of bacon would keep it from splattering fat as it cooked, I had to give the trick a try for myself. Not only did I confirm that this little tip is indeed a way to keep your apron clean, but I also discovered that it's the key to better bacon on the stovetop.
Before I gave the method a try, I stumbled onto a video from America's Test Kitchen, which recommends adding even more water to the pan — enough to cover the bacon slices. They say the simmering water renders the fat, so by the time the water has boiled away and the bacon is crisping up, it won't splatter. It also makes it easier to achieve the ideal crispy-yet-tender texture.
I tried the method using various amounts of water and found that America's Test Kitchen is right: the water renders the fat, so there is a lot less splattering. More importantly, the technique produces a browned and crisp-edged slice without the risk of burned bacon. Tender and a little chewy, this bacon was perfect in a wedge salad because it didn't crumble when I speared it with a fork; it was as pliable as thick-cut bacon, but with the crispness you would expect from the usual thin slice.
How to Do It
There's actually no need to completely cover the bacon slices with water. It takes a long time for that much water to boil off and I thought the results were just as good — and much quicker! — with a smaller amount of water. Once the bacon is in the pan, add just enough water to completely coat the bottom of the pan and cook over medium-high heat until the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the bacon until crisp.
For perfect bacon in bulk, cooking it in the oven is the way to go, but the next time you cook a few slices on the stove, give this method a try. It just might change how you cook bacon forever.
Have you ever cooked bacon with water? What are your tips or tricks for perfect bacon on the stove?