Not only is it popular around the globe, it has for some reason special cultural weight among geeks. I cook some for my family most Sunday mornings. Have done for years, and only recently have I started getting consistently good results; so maybe sharing my experience will be useful.
The Bacon · If you buy it shrink-wrapped from the supermarket, you’re very unlikely to have a memorable experience. You’ll get something which is waterlogged, sliced way too thin, and doubtless loaded up with nitrites, which keep the product from going grey while it sits unloved on the supermarket shelves.
You need to find a real butcher who will slice your bacon extra thick while you wait, within a day or two of when you’re going to eat it. Organic pork, unlike beef or chicken, is fairly hard to come by; and I’ve actually had bad luck with “organic bacon” which was improperly smoked and thus flavorless.
In Vancouver, I buy bacon from Continental Sausage, at the corner of Main and 20th: “double-smoked European” sliced extra thick. And the supermarket may not be entirely a wasteland; recently I tried something called “Irish short bacon” from a Canadian outfit called Goodricks; hmm, their Web site has now been replaced by a GoDaddy parking page. It was shrink-wrapped but nonetheless fresh, thick, and good, if perhaps overly salty.
One crucial thing is that the bacon has to be sliced thick; I just don’t know of a way to get it cooked right when it’s thin.
How To Cook It · Other people manage to fry bacon and get good results, but it’s never worked for me; the fat puddles up and spits and makes a huge mess, and I never quite manage to get the stuff properly done without some burning.
I broil bacon on the grill-pan thingie that you find in most stoves; it sits on the slotted-metal surface so fat drains away. We have a gas stove but I don’t suppose that would make much difference. I move the shelf to the second position from the top, so there are six inches or more between the flame and the bacon. My experience is that the broiler’s heating pattern in most ovens is uneven, so you need to place things with care.
What I do is, after only a minute or two of broiling, pull out the shelf and grill and, with a fork or whatever, turn the pieces of bacon over, because they’ll have started to curl up and will just go on doing that, if you let them.
The Turning Point · This is where your actions make the difference between sloppy and undercooked, blackened and brittle, or colorful and toothsome. Seconds matter. There is room for disagreement as to where on the floppy-to-crispy spectrum you like your bacon, but the time lapse between almost-ready and irretrievably-blackened is no more than a minute.
So there’s no substitute for hovering over the stove, peeking in at the bacon every few seconds during the critical period, and pouncing at the critical moment. I should think that Zen masters would find this easy.
If you have a gas stove, you have an advantage in that you can just turn it off, leave the bacon in there, and it’ll stay warm while you do the pancakes or eggs or whatever; if it’s an electric stove you have to pull that pan out right now.
Accompaniments · Don’t be silly, bacon goes with everything. Having said that, seasonal berries, homemade pancakes, and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice are not to be sneezed at.