I am completely in love with my air fryer. This awesome device enables me to pump out shoestring French fries that put McDonalds' fries to shame. Same goes for tater tots...perfectly golden crisp on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth, creamy soft on the inside. The engineering behind it is not rocket science. It's simply a convection oven on steroids deployed in a small cooking area, so that everything comes out perfectly crispy. It's just as effective as deep frying, but with none of the unhealthy baggage that comes from cooking in hot oil.
So to make air fryer pepper bacon, we need to start with the bacon....which comes from the belly region of the pig. Bacon has alternating layers of fat and muscle, unlike pork belly, which has solid layers of fat and muscle. To give bacon it's intense flavor, it is smoked. There are two basic woods used for smoking bacon...applewood and and hickory. For this recipe, I want you to choose applewood smoked bacon.
Here's why. Hickory is your brash, loud, obnoxious little sister. When she walks into a room, everyone shrinks and hides because her personality takes up all the space in the room. Hickory smoke is overpowering. Hickory gets to ride in the front seat of the convertible with an enormous gold crown on her head while bacon is relegated to the trunk, tasked with keeping the spare tire company.
Applewood is your cool, suave and understated older brother. He knows he's good and doesn't need to call attention to himself. Applewood smoke is very subtle. It gives the bacon a sweet, fruity taste with just a delicate wisp of smoke. When bacon and applewood sing their duet, you will know immediately that bacon is the true star.
Now when it comes to pepper, there is no contest. Tellicherry black peppercorn is the best tasting pepper that will ever cross your lips. But to realize that level of perfection, you need to use whole Tellicherry peppercorns and a grinder. There is no substitute for fresh cracked peppercorns. And here's the best news. You'll find my favorite, 14-ounce jar of Kirkland Tellicherry peppercorns at Costco for just $5.49. BAM!
- You will have to cook the bacon in batches, as you want to cook each batch of bacon in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, lay 5 to 8 strips of bacon in a single layer in the bottom of your air fryer.
- Grind the peppercorns over the bacon to your level of taste.
- Turn air fryer temperature to 390º and cook for 8 minutes (no preheating necessary). Start checking bacon at 7 minutes.