It seems more people are going back to making popcorn on the stovetop – the way we did it when we were kids – rather than resort to a hot air popper or the over-packaged microwave kind. Popcorn is a classic – inexpensive and good for you (depending on how you prepare it), it’s simple to pop, with a ton of flavour potential when you make it yourself. Popping it in a pot on the stovetop opens up the possibility of adding seasonings or swapping cooking oil for more flavourful kinds of fat – like olive oil or bacon drippings. Oh yes – popcorn cooked in a dab of leftover bacon fat is ethereal.
Anytime you cook bacon, you’re going to wind up with drippings – pour them into a small bowl or ramekin and you’ll have some wonderfully flavorful fat with which to roast vegetables, cook eggs, or prepare anything you want to infuse with real bacon flavor. Popcorn makes a perfect vehicle – the fat flavors it without the need to shake on artificial seasonings later on. Its high smoke point makes it ideal for cooking with, and the good news is lard (pig fat) contains significantly less saturated fat than butter, so it’s not as unhealthy as you might think.
If you already cook your popcorn on the stovetop, simply swap bacon drippings for your cooking oil. Otherwise, here’s a recipe to follow:
2-3 Tbsp. bacon drippings
1/3 cup uncooked popcorn kernels
salt, to taste
In a medium-large saucepan or small pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the bacon drippings over medium-high heat until melted. Add the popcorn, put the lid on and leave on the stovetop for a minute.
Start shaking the pan back and forth so that the kernels don’t stick. Do this occasionally – no need to do it constantly – as the popcorn starts popping. When the pops slow to a few seconds between each pop, remove the pan from the heat, let it sit for a minute to be sure the popping has slowed or stopped, and dump into a wide bowl. Add salt to taste. Serves 4.