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My friend was remarking that the bacon I buy is low-quality because when it cooks it's all warped and not flat. I remarked that if he doesn't want bacon, he should keep talking.

Other things being equal, namely the cooking method (if you use one of those fancy presses, could probably make anything flat), does "higher quality" bacon cook flatter?

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snipping the fat along the edge at small intervals with a pair of scissors will make it cook flatter I believe. – Sam Holder Nov 7 '11 at 11:06
Without any special equipment, cooking bacon in the oven makes much flatter bacon than in a frying pan. – derobert Nov 7 '11 at 21:27

I believe bacon warps when cooked largely because the different stripes (fat and meat) respond differently to being cooked - the fat doesn't contract as much. So I think that thicker bacon will tend to warp less, because it has more structure and can't curl about as easily, and often higher quality bacon is thicker. But if you got really amazing thinly sliced bacon, I can't imagine it not curling when cooked.

(Disclaimer: It's been a long while since I cooked bacon; I eat little meat and cook less, so I could be wrong.)

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I've found that even if thickness does count (no idea about water content), slow cooking bacon will minimise warping. I cook it rather slow (low heat) and turn it about every 2 minutes or less. That way I get a quite flat, evenly cooked and crispy bacon.

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I believe the water content of the bacon is the culprit. High quality bacon has less water and thus warps less.

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The reason bacon curls during frying is due to the way it is cured. Most high volume packaged bacon is cured using a spray, this has a high water content, and the bacon curls when this is rapidly removed during the frying process. Some higher quality bacon does tend to stay flat, but the key is to look for a "dry cured". This means the bacon is cured using a rub cure rather than a liquid based spray cure. Another option is to get extra thick cut as you'll get less curl simply due to the thickness of the meat.

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