Yield: 3 Cups | Total Time: 15 Minutes
Popcorn is one of those things that I like to think of as a culinary chameleon – it will take on pretty much any flavor. The problem that you may run into when experimenting with new popcorn recipes, however, is how to keep popcorn crispy.
I wanted to use leftover pork fat in this sweet popcorn recipe (hello soggy…. we’ll address that unwelcome visitor later) because you just can’t throw that kind of goodness away!
You might be thinking; pork fat healthy? Oh yeah! Cooking with pork fat is not only tasty, but it packs a lot of heath benefits, too. (You can read more about the health benefits of pork fat by going to BBC Future). So if you are looking for healthy snacks, then you’ll love this popcorn not only because pork fat rules, but also because this is the crispiest, crunchiest popcorn you may ever eat. (Time to leave now, Mr. Soggy.)
When making popcorn on the stove, be sure your oil is at the right temperature before you add the kernels. This will eliminate most of those burnt, un-popped kernels sitting at the bottom when all is said and done. Using the ‘three kernel test’ is how you will know the oil is ready for popping. (I’ve spelled it out in the stovetop popcorn recipe directions below.)
Less is more when it comes to pork fat, and if you are tempted to add more than 1 tablespoon, you will be horribly disappointed with the result. That one little tablespoon will add just enough smokey-pork flavor to be noticeable, but not overwhelming (or soggy). Trust me on this part.
Last but not least, the sugar seasoning. If you add it to the popcorn and shake it up immediately after you take it off the heat, you’ll get that fantastic crunch factor that makes this recipe so exciting. Oh, and don’t forget to scrape up any bits that get stuck to the bottom of the pan and toss them into the popcorn, too.
Yum. Yum. And YUM!
Mulled Sweet Popcorn with Ham Drippings
Total Time: 14 Minutes
Prep: 7 Minutes / Cook: 7 Minutes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup plain yellow popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 tablespoon ham drippings or pork fat
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mulling spice powder, fine ground (or one mulled cider packet)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Add the vegetable oil and three kernels popcorn to a large pot or kettle with a tight fitting lid (preferably transparent) and turn on the heat to medium-high.
2 While the oil is heating, mix together the ham drippings and butter in a microwave safe mug. Melt for 45 seconds, stopping halfway through to swirl the ingredients together, set aside. Use a fork to thoroughly combine the brown sugar, mulling spices and salt in a separate ramekin, taking care to break up any sugar chunks. Set aside.
3. When the first kernel in the pot pops, this means that your oil is at the right temperature to add the remaining kernels. (Doing it this way will nearly eliminate the problem of having un-popped or burnt kernels at the bottom of your pan.) Cover the popcorn (with a transparent lid, if you have one, so you can see what is going on in there!) When the kernels begin to pop, they will do so pretty quickly, so keep a close eye on them, shaking the pot every so often to evenly distribute the heat. When you only hear a pop every 5 seconds or so and you hear a whole lot of sizzling, immediately remove the pot from the heat.
4. Drizzle the ham drippings and butter mixture over the hot popcorn as soon as you take it off the heat. Replace the lid and while holding it in place, shake the pot with the popcorn and fat until well coated. Immediately (and I mean, immediately – getting the seasoning into the hottest heat after the kernels are done popping is the only way that the sugars will caramelize) add the sugar seasoning, replace the lid and while holding it in place, shake everything vigorously for about 1 minute. The idea here is to evenly distribute the sugar and spice while caramelizing it into mini-chunks that coat the popcorn. Maximum crunch mission accomplished!
5. Serve hot. Crunch-crunch-YUM!
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