There are so many kitchen gadgets that only do one thing. You can buy a special tool to strip the kernels off an ear of corn, de-stem your strawberries, or cut bananas into perfectly uniform slices, but that's all it'll do. It's easy to get carried away, and before you know it you find yourself designating an "everything" or "miscellaneous" drawer.
Then there are the tools that have multiple functions, but you know you'd never use them often enough to justify spending the money. Unless you cook a lot of whole chickens or roasts, you probably don't own a roasting rack, even though they can be pretty useful.
The purpose of a roasting rack is to lift food off of the surface of the pan so that the air circulates better and cooks it more evenly. It also helps keep food from getting soggy by sitting in its own juices as it cooks.
What does a roasting rack have to do with cooking bacon? Well, you can apply the same principle to get perfectly crispy bacon in the oven, without all the mess of pan frying.
The easiest way to mimic the effect of a roasting rack is to cook it on a cooling rack on top of a foil-covered baking sheet, but what if you don't have a cooling rack either?
That's where creative improvising comes in.
The folks at America's Test Kitchen suggest using heavy duty foil to create a makeshift rack to bake crispier bacon, fries, and other similar foods. The only caveat is that it has to be something light since the foil won't hold a ton of weight.
For bacon, all you have to do is crimp the foil so that the ridges elevate the bacon an inch or two off of the baking sheet. Lay the bacon horizontally across the "rack" and the ridges will catch the grease, making cleanup much easier.
Again, you'll definitely want to use heavy duty foil and make sure you're cooking something lightweight in order for this to work. If all you've got is the regular stuff, crumple it up before lining the pan with it. This will allow for at least a little more air circulation to help your food get crispier.
Got another clever alternative to cooking racks? Let us know in the comments below.
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