I would like to make a garnish of bacon spirals. Spirals like cinnamon rolls, not like curly fries, nor like Gemelli pasta.

My plan is to bake loosely rolled bacon held in place with a toothpick.

I fear that the rolls will crumble while removing the toothpick. Is there anything I can do to ensure they retain the spiral shape after removing the toothpick?

Is there a better method?

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    Nice question and looking forward to answers. I'll eat bacon in any form or shape, but every once in a while, when I feel like Creating Something, I'd like it to retain the shape I mangled it in. My success rate is well below 0.01% (but rest assured:100% of the bacon got eaten). – Willem van Rumpt Dec 12 '18 at 17:04
  • Most, I would think the toothpick should pull while still hot, but you might experiment with a couple just to try. I am thinking that if they might crumble, that pulling them when not quite 100% done would likely hold shape while you finished crisping them. I would try it before I banked on it though. – dlb Dec 12 '18 at 18:18
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    You can avoid the crumbles by not over-cooking them and by letting them cool just a bit before removing the toothpick. (I like @Erica's muffin tin idea) You might also do a test run in the microwave and see if that would offer success. – elbrant Dec 13 '18 at 14:40
  • I will try your suggestions this weekend and let you know how it goes. – B540Glenn Dec 14 '18 at 21:28

Roll the bacon into its spiral and set it on end in a muffin tin to bake. You can use the toothpicks as "spacers" to keep the edges apart, and then easily pull them out the side once everything is baked. (Depending on how tight and broad you want the spiral to be, you may need to use a mini-muffin pan instead.)

You may also want to add a light coating of brown sugar before shaping the spiral to help the bacon hold its shape. It should caramelize while cooking and help achieve a crispy and stiff shape. Plus, it's yummy!

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    Thank you all for your suggestions. I tried the other methods mentioned below. Each worked with varying degrees of success. The metal skewers were the easiest to remove. The toothpicks weren't as hard to remove as I thought they would be. They did not break the bacon while carefully removing them. Keeping the spiral shape with the skewers and toothpicks was very difficult. Rolling the bacon rashers in the tin was easiest to form and kept their shape the best. Sugar on the verticle bacon did not work. As the fat rendered, the sugar came off. I suggest sugar on horizontal bacon only. – B540Glenn Dec 19 '18 at 14:25
  • Interesting! Thank you for sharing the experimental data :) – Erica Dec 19 '18 at 14:27
  • @B540Glenn : If you want to try it again, you might be able to make flat bacon, then once it's mostly cooked, roll it into a spiral and finish cooking it. Or fully cooked (but not stiff) and let it cool in the shape of a spiral – Joe Dec 30 '18 at 23:15

Based on some experience with other things, instead of using toothpicks, I'd use thin, round metal skewers. Yes, they might conduct heat to the puncture location and cause some slight uneven-ness in cooking, but they have a couple of advantages:

  1. Food doesn't stick to metal as badly as it does to wood.
  2. The handle at the end allows you to try to spin it before you pull it out.

I actually recommend spinning the skewer as you pull it out. Being a sheet, the bacon is stronger against rotational forces than it is against axial forces. By spinning the skewer first, then pulling, you're only dealing with dynamic friction as you pull, not static friction.

I admit, I've never tried this exact situation before, but the spinning trick really helps at conferences when you're pinning up posters, as it keeps you from needing to hold the display board as you're inserting push pins. (although, T-pins at an angle work even better, hold better, and pack up much smaller)

I would also stick to 'thick cut' bacon and remove the skewers when the bacon is firm but still slightly flexible.

.... and if that didn't work, I'd try to make a spiral form using some of the aluminum flashing that I have laying around from another project. (although I have no idea if it's coated with anything that might not be food-safe... I guess I could wrap it in aluminum foil, too ... maybe even get some of the 'release' foil.

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Caveat: This answer is based on general cooking experience, not an actual experiment.

I share your doubt about the toothpicks, especially as the force applied to the bacon when pulling them out again is concentrated on a small spot. If your bacon is crisp, it’s prone to shattering, if soft, probably won’t hold its shape.

I would skip the toothpick and use a slim stir of parchment around the perimeter of your bacon spiral, held in place with a piece of kitchen twine tied around it. The parchment both serves like a “cast” holding the spiral together and prevents the twine from being embedded into the bacon. If the parchment isn’t too wide, it shouldn’t interfere too much with the steam during baking. Just to be sure, I ‘d take the temperature down a notch and bake longer.

Of course this is more work than just pushing a toothpick through, but assuming you are making the decoration for a smaller gathering, not a 250 servings catering event, should still be manageable. Alternatively, go for the toothpick, but make lots of extras so that you have enough even if a significant portion suffers some damage.

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