I used leftover pork fat in this stovetop popcorn recipe. Cooking with pork fat is not only tasty, but it packs a lot of health benefits, too. (Read more about the health benefits of pork fat). So if you are looking for healthy snacks, then you may just love this popcorn.
A few tips:
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 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.
Add the sugar seasoning to the popcorn and shake it up immediately after you take the popped corn off the heat to get the best crunch. 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!
Caramelized Pork Fat Popcorn
- large kettle (or pan) with tight fitting lid
- microwave-safe mug
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- ⅓ cup plain yellow popcorn kernels
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp ham drippings or pork fat
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp mulling spices, finely ground or one mulled cider packet
- ¼ tsp salt
- Add the canola oil plus three kernels of popcorn to a large pot or kettle with a tight-fitting (preferably transparent) lid. Turn the heat to medium-high.
- 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.
- When the first kernel in the kettle pops, this means that your oil is at the right temperature. Now you can add the remaining kernels. (Don't add the remaining kernels before this happens or you will end up with un-popped, burnt kernels at the bottom of your kettle!) Cover the popcorn with a transparent lid, if you have one, so you can see what is going on. 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 popping slows to only every 5 seconds or so and you hear a whole lot of sizzling, immediately remove the pot from the heat.
- Drizzle the ham dripping/butter mixture over the hot popcorn as soon as you take the popped corn off the heat. Replace the lid and while holding it in place, shake the kettle until the popcorn is well coated in fat. Immediately add the sugar seasoning while the popcorn is still hot (the heat will caramelize the sugars for the best crunch). Replace the lid and while holding it in place, shake everything vigorously for about 1 minute.
- Serve steaming hot.