Bacon Popcorn. Yep. How about a giant bowl of this in front of the big game? Slightly sweet, perfectly salty with the amazing flavor of crispy bacon.
Popcorn cooked in bacon fat is nothing new. I imagine it was a popular method before cooking oil could be readily bought and folks were a bit more thrifty about waste. I often use bacon fat from my stove-side canister to cook popcorn when I want a little flavor boost. But I couldn’t help thinking there would be a way of upping the bacon-y goodness even more. Of course, adding lovely little crunchy pieces of crumbled bacon works, but I moved on to this bacon dust seasoning to spread the bacon love all over the bowl, and added a little of the bacon grease to the butter for an extra boost. The kettle-corn sprinkling of sugar doesn’t hurt, either.
To make the bacon dust, you’ll need an electric spice grinder. That can be a specially designed spice grinder or a coffee bean grinder used only for spices (the coffee will overpower the spices). You just can’t get make dust with a food processor or blender. If you don’t have a spice grinder, just chop the bacon strips into small pieces and toss it with the popcorn. And yes, the bacon dust has many other uses. Let your imagination run wild.
Use your own judgment and taste here – you may prefer to use a little less of the butter mix, and may want to add more salt if your bacon doesn’t do it for you.
8 strips of bacon
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ Tablespoons white sugar
½ cup popcorn kernels
½ cup butter
Salt to taste
Cook the bacon strips in a large skillet until very crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain and pat the tops dry. Pour the bacon grease into a small bowl and set aside. Leave the bacon to become very dry, with no visible grease left on it.
Break the three crispiest strips of bacon into small pieces and place in a spice grinder with a pinch of kosher salt. Grind the bacon to a fine powder. You can add more salt if you’d like – just taste to see how salty the bacon is first. Scoop the bacon dust into a small bowl and fluff with a fork.
Melt the butter in a small measuring jug in the microwave. Stir in 3 Tablespoons of bacon grease and set aside. Finely crumble or chop the remaining bacon strips into small pieces.
My favorite method of seasoning popcorn is to put everything in a big brown paper grocery bag and shake it all up. It seasons everything evenly, soaks up any extra grease and is easy to clean up. You can also just do it in a large bowl, but whatever way you go, have the bag or the bowl ready to go right by the stove before you start popping.
Put 3 Tablespoons of bacon grease and 1 Tablespoon canola oil in a large stainless steel Dutch oven or sauce pan. The canola oil keeps the bacon grease from burning. Drop in 3 popcorn kernels, cover the pot and wait right by the stove until you hear all three kernels pop. Remove the top, drop in the remaining kernels and the sugar and quickly stir to distribute the sugar. Put the top back on the pot and listen for the popping. While it is popping in earnest, shake the pot a couple of times. When the popping slows down to just a few random pops, immediately dump the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl. Do not leave it in the pot, or the sugar will continue to cook and burn.
Drizzle over the bacon grease butter and the bacon dust, shaking the bag or bowl to distribute evenly. Do this in stages – don’t just drop everything in at once. Toss in the crumbled bacon. Serve in a big bowl and a side of paper towels!
Makes about 6 cups of popcorn