As anyone who’s ever eaten a tender, cheesy muffin that’s studded with crispy bacon knows, meat and pastry go together like bread and butter. But if you’re one of the unfortunate people who have experienced flabby bacon in a brioche loaf or oily prosciutto in a vegetable tart, you also know how much the texture of the meat can affect the texture of the baked good.
For perfect morsels of meat in your baked goods, remember one simple formula: render = tender.
Notes From the Test Kitchen
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ATK’s The Savory Baker cookbook tells us that to avoid rubbery or flabby meat in your savory pies and tarts, rendering the fat before adding meat to doughs and batters avoids an overload of grease.
The book tells us that pre-cooking bacon in a skillet and draining most (but not all) of the fat brings bacon-y flavor to recipes such as the French Onion and Bacon Tart,
The method works with prosciutto for the No-Knead Brioche Tarts with Zucchini and Crispy Prosciutto. Microwaving the meat is used to render excess fat and ensure that the texture remains smooth and tender.
No-Knead BriocheWe’d make this rich, incredibly tender bread a lot more often if we didn’t have to spend 20 minutes kneading in perfectly room-temperature butter.
This method allows for all the best flavor of your meats to incorporate into your dough, lending it a salty creaminess, without the excess oil that can end up ruining the texture and rise of the end result.
Of course, you should always follow the instructions in the recipe you’re using, but if the one you’re following doesn’t call for it, here’s how you can parcook meat before baking it.
Baking with bacon:
- Preheat skillet over medium heat.
- Add bacon and fry until preferred crispiness, flipping halfway through.
- Drain most of the fat from the skillet and add bacon to dough.
Baking with prosciutto:
- Line microwave-safe plate with paper towels and lay prosciutto in a single layer on top.
- Microwave until meat begins to release fat, 30 to 60 seconds.
- Transfer prosciutto to clean layer of paper towels and press to absorb extra oil.