Buy the best bacon you can afford. Farmers’ markets are a good place to look for artisanal smokehouse bacon—and support your local farmers in the process.
If buying bacon at the supermarket, look for bacon that’s been smoked naturally (many brands are injected with “smoke flavor,” not smoked with actual wood). Turn the package over to check the meat versus fat ratio. Most brands have a clear plastic window on the backside, or a perforated rectangular cutout you can fold back to reveal what’s inside. You want as much meat as possible.
Start with well-chilled bacon for easier handling.
Buy more bacon than you think you’ll need. Thin-cut bacon is especially prone to tearing.
Use thick-cut bacon for weaves that will cover meats cooked “low and slow” (more than 2 hours) such as smoked meatloaf or “fatties”, smoked whole chickens, smoked whole turkeys or turkey breasts, beef brisket, etc. Thick-cut bacon will render its fat more slowly, whereas thin-cut bacon can burn during long cooks. Use thin-cut bacon for weaves that will cover direct grilled, faster cooking foods such as chicken breasts or thighs, whole fish or fish fillets, whole baking potatoes, etc.
Build the weave on a large sheet of parchment paper, heavy-duty foil, or food service-quality plastic wrap. (The latter is much more substantial than supermarket brands and comes in 18-inch rolls. It can be purchased at restaurant supply houses or online through Amazon.)
After building the bacon weave, place a large piece of plastic wrap over the top and gently roll it with a rolling pin. This increases the surface area of the weave and makes it tighter.
For extra flavor, sprinkle the bacon weave with about 1 tablespoon of your favorite barbecue rub, preferably one that’s not too salty.
You can build several weaves at the same session. They can be refrigerated (individually wrapped in plastic wrap or foil and then in a large resealable plastic bag) for several days, or frozen for up to 2 months.
For small weaves, cut bacon strips in half crosswise before weaving. (These make great BLTs, by the way. Indirect grill on medium—about 350 degrees—for 20 minutes or so.)
Use an electric knife or a serrated knife for slicing bacon-wrapped foods neatly.
Bacon will not crisp if cooked low and slow (the heat doesn’t get high enough for the fat to render completely). To overcome this problem, add enough coals (or if using a gas grill, crank up the temperature) near the end of the cook to achieve a temperature of 375 degrees. In 15 to 20 minutes, the bacon weave should be crisped and nicely browned.