I'm not sure how much to fry the frozen bacon I get. Should it be crisp? When do I stop?
In my experience, you'll get the best bacon if you start with a cold pan. Throwing it onto a hot pan sounds impressive (it sizzles right away), but it will also make the bacon shrink/curl up much more and faster.
I cook bacon half by look, and half by sound. After you cook it a couple times you'll see (hear) what I mean - the sizzle changes significantly as the fat renders off. I usually flip it as soon as the sound starts to change, and I flip more than once to reduce curling (unless you have a bacon press, see below).
If you don't have one, I recommend a bacon press, especially if you like crispy bacon. It also helps it cook faster. In a pinch, you can use the bottom of a smaller pan - I cook bacon in a 12" cast iron pan, and use an 8" pan as the bacon press.
If you don't have a splatter guard, you're going to want one...
...unless you wanted to cook your bacon in the oven. This is great for large batches, reducing splatter, and unattended bacon cooking. Steps to oven bacon:
- preheat oven to 400
- cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil
- put bacon on foil, leaving a little space between
- cook for 12-18 minutes depending on desired crispiness. I lean towards crispier bacon so I usually start watching at 12, pull it out at 15.
One other note, no matter which method you use, you're going to want to take the bacon off the heat a minute or so before it's at the desired crispiness - it will continue to cook slightly after you take it off. There have been a few times I've made it to my desired doneness, tasted it out of the pan, been very happy with it, moved it to paper towels to drain, tried it a minute later, and it was too crispy. So be aware of that possibility.
It won't necessarily be entirely crisp in the pan, but will crisp up very quickly once it starts to cool. This picture - http://www.sogoodblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/cooking-bacon.jpg - looks about the right doneness when you should pull it off. It's also up to your personal preference how much you like it done (softer, in the middle, or very crispy). I would say the picture is near the middle and closer to the very crispy side than the softer side.
As well as the subjective question (how do you like it) there are a few other factors - bacon varies a lot - cheaper bacon tends to be injected with a lot of water, so it is actually difficult to crisp up without it becoming overcooked. You can spot this by white liquid coming out in the pan while it cooks.
The proper stuff varies between lean (very little fat) and streaky (far marbled through) - generally speaking, the streaky fatty stuff is much better if you want crispy bacon (to be drizzled with maple syrup, say). Lean bacon can get a bit like leather if overcooked (lack of fats).
As you're specifically talking frozen bacon I guess the main concern is that it's completely cooked through.
Keep cooking till it is toasty black, then flip and repeat. Note that while the bacteria will be well and truly destroyed, the resulting carcinogens may be worse in the long run.
Seriously though you don't need to cook until crunchy, or just until soft. Even just microwaving for 1 minute on high is technically enough.
Bacon definitely should be fried until crisp, including the fat. It takes time and patience, but it's worth the wait. BTW, I have given up ordering bacon with anything in restaurant because you don't get nice, crisp bacon--you get a flabby slab of fat with some chewy, undercooked meat running through it.