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At home, I'm likely to cook bacon stovetop in a cast iron skillet. In commercial kitchens I've worked in, bacon goes on sheet pans in the oven. In each case, I usually pour off excess fat once or twice during cooking. However, I just watched this video at Chow that instructs to never pour off the fat. Does the pool of hot fat help or hinder in achieving a uniformly crispy piece of bacon?

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Do you want to add detail about your particular concern about pouring it off? Down the drain is bad, in a can is good, for use later is good, leacing to harden on the bottom of the pan not so good. I'm not sure how to answer as I don't know what end concerns you, is it just the quality of the final product? –  mfg May 30 '12 at 13:36

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If a recipe calls for you to drain the fat, drain the fat. If you are trying to lose weight, drain the fat. If you don't want an unattractive glossy skim on top, or for it to cool and harden, drain the fat.

Having too much fat in your pan will possibly interfere with the frying technique you are using, which will change the end product. That said, it sounds like you are just frying bacon. In this case, it is totally a matter of personal preference; some people like very greasy bacon, some want to pretend there was no fat ever and drain obsessively and dry on paper towels twice.

From my experience cooking bacon, long and slow, I prefer to have a moderate amount in the pan. Some bacon will render fat more quickly and in higher volume than others. This is problematic when you are trying to ensure a crisp product at the end as the bacon can end up partially deep fried. If you find the fat interfering with the actual frying, drain it.

I also drain the bacon to ensure there aren't pools of bacon, howeverI don't prefer to dry it; normally I do a haystack on paper towels. I have made chili where the primary fat was bacon fat from a few pounds of bacon; in this case you still want to drain it, into the pot you will be making the chili in. This helps ensure that you are rendering as much fat as possible and that the bacon can be used later.

As for getting rid of the fat, don't pour it down the drain. If you're going to store it, strain it, keep it air tight, and put it in the fridge. If you're going to use it for the next thing you are making, strain it (or don't) and put it aside, but don't let it interfere with the focus, the frying of the bacon.

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Your third paragraph gets to the crux of my question. Scott Vermeire, in the video linked to in my question, seems to indicate (at 1:21) that slow-cooking in the puddle of fat is what leads to uniformly crispy bacon. –  Callithumpian May 30 '12 at 15:21
    
@Callithumpian I like the fat to be about 1/4 the height of the bacon itself; depending on his definition of a puddle, I would (dis)agree. The importance of the fat is to conduct heat, and I find about 1/4 height inhibits bacon from twisting into curly strips (too much contact directly to the pan seems to lead to this, floating in grease makes for limp bacon) and making it impossible to cook it evenly. –  mfg May 30 '12 at 20:47

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