8 Ways to use a bacon press

Who knew it was so versatile?

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You may have a bacon press in your kitchen already -- you probably received it as a gift and weren’t really sure how to use it, so you relegated it to the back of the cabinet where it stayed. Time to get that versatile gadget out! It will quickly become one of the handiest items in your culinary arsenal -- if you know how to use it.

Make tortillas

There's no need to have both a bacon press and a tortilla press taking up valuable cabinet space. The bacon press can do both jobs with ease so long as your model has a flat bottom.

Just put a dough ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and press down with all your might! Then cook up your tortillas in a skillet.

Replace that fat-draining indoor grill

You could certainly buy a fat-draining countertop grill — they aren't really that expensive if you get a smaller model. But if you won't need it often, use a bacon press instead. To get rid of the unwanted fat in the meat you're cooking, simply apply firm, even pressure to the top of your cut about halfway through cooking, tilting the pan as you do to drain what's released.

Panini, anyone?

To turn your next sandwich into a piping-hot panini, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, placing the press inside to heat up as well. Build your sammy as desired, then place the sandwich inside the pan under the heated press. (Note: if your cast-iron isn't seasoned, make sure you grease it — depending on what type of press you have, you may want to grease it too.) Use the press to slightly smash the sandwich, and leave the press in place until it's golden brown.

On the outdoor grill

Use a bacon press on your outdoor barbecue grill to quick-cook meats on both sides at the same time. Just heat up the press on the grill before you start cooking and place it on top of the meat when you begin cooking.

No-flip hash browns

Make crispy-fried hash browns in half the time. Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium-high heat with the bacon press inside the pan while it heats. When it's up to temp, toss in your potatoes and place the press on top. Continue cooking until they're golden-brown.

Bar cookie press

Get perfectly flat bar cookies and crispy rice treats by using a (greased if necessary) bacon press to ensure perfectly presentable treats.

Perfect quesadillas

Preheat your bacon press in the pan you'll use to make the quesadillas, then place it on top of the top tortilla to ensure even melting and golden-delicious crunch.

Make bacon more presentable

Last, but not least, you can use it to... press bacon! This is really an aesthetic decision for the most part. It keeps your bacon from curling up and that's about it. But it does make your bacon perfectly flat for use on your panini!

Bacon press in photo available at Williams-Sonoma, $15

More stove-top how-tos

How to make your own corn and flour tortillas
How to grill vegetables
Grilling bacon-wrapped meats

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix the Fish. You can follow her on Twitter @HireHeather.