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Pancake-Flat Strips of Bacon

When you heat this cured pork—which has an almost 50-50 meat-to-fat ratio—the fat melts away and shrinks at a different rate than the meat, which explains why some pieces can look like curlicues. If you want a perfectly flat strip—say you're going to be cutting it into one-inch squares for a layered hors d'oeuvre—weight it down under bricks, says caterer Peter Callahan, whose book, Bite by Bite, shows how he makes even pigs in a blanket look fancy. You can cook bacon under a brick (wrapped in two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil) in a frying pan or in the oven, and since the brick conducts heat, there's no need to flip the bacon. One more bit of advice: Use thick-cut bacon; it's much easier to flatten.