Here’s my infamous Bourbon Bacon Popcorn recipe. We’ve had it on our menu at SPiN Toronto since we opened in August 2011. It really hits the mark when you’re after a tasty snack that covers it all; sweet, salty and savoury.
Candy making is a relatively basic process once you know what you’re trying to do. Please know that this recipe involves really high heat and can be dangerous if proper care is not taken. Be careful! This stuff gets really hot.
A note on Ingredients:
- Obviously, this recipe calls for Bacon. We use wonderful Perth Pork thick-cut smoked bacon from Sanagan’s Meat Locker. I spent a lot of time looking for the best bacon available. In my opinion, this is it.
- Whole Pistachios are available at most grocery or bulk stores. Look for unsalted, bright green nuts.
- Use whatever brand of Bourbon you like. We use Jim Beam at SPiN. The flavour that comes through is tasty, but subtle. This may not be the time to bring out the single barrel bottle you’ve been hoarding.
- This recipe calls for popped Popcorn, you can pick this up from a retail outlet or use an air popper to pop it in the kitchen. Either way, your popcorn needs to be air popped, not oil popped.
A note on Equipment:
- If you have never made candy before, i would suggest a Candy Thermometer, they are available at any restaurant supply store for around $10. This will take the guess work out of this recipe.
- You’ll also need a brush of some kind, either a pastry brush, or an unused, natural bristle paintbrush.
Bourbon Bacon Popcorn
5lt Popped Popcorn
1kg White Caster Sugar
210ml (7oz) Bourbon
1pc Whole Cinnamon
1/2tsp Liquid Smoke
10 slices (roughly 400g) Thick Cut Smoked Bacon
250g Shelled, Unsalted Whole Pistachios
1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Place popcorn in a metal bowl or container with excess room to stir vigorously. The bigger the container, the better.
2. Lay the bacon out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the fat has rendered and you are left with ‘crispy’ bacon. During this time, you can also toast your pistachio nuts on another baking sheet. They will take about 5-7 minutes.
3. Using a kitchen towel, blot as much fat from the bacon as possible. Then in a food processor, pulse the bacon until it is broken down into 2mm x 2mm pieces. Do the same with the pistachios. Reserve both the nuts and bacon to the side.
4. In a pot, combine the Sugar and the Cinnamon Stick. Gently add the Bourbon, Water and Liquid Smoke. Make sure you don’t splash any sugar up onto the sides of the pot. Also, do not stir the sugar mixture.
5. Heat your pot on high heat. While it’s heating, gather a small container of water and your pastry/paint brush. You will be brushing water on the edge of the pot anytime you begin to see any sugar crystals forming. This water brush will keep the sugar in a liquid state.
6. Using a Candy Thermometer, heat the sugar mixture on high. The booze and water will evaporate quickly. This will leave a highly concentrated sugar solution. As the solution continues to cook, it will contain less and less water. Eventually it will become purely sugar. This will happen at 300-310F. We want to go slightly higher. At 320F the sugar will begin to caramelize. Remember: brush the sides of the pot with water to prevent crystallization.
7. Once your solution has hit 320-330F, add the bacon and cashews. This will slow the rise in temperature. The sugar will seize slightly, return the pot to the heat to re-liquify the solution. Careful, if you take your sugar much higher than 330F, it will burn.
8. Acting VERY quickly, pour the sugar solution over the popcorn. Stir vigorously until the popcorn is thoroughly coated in the sugar solution. Season the mix with the flaked Kosher Salt and Finely Ground Black Pepper.
9. Let the Popcorn cool and store in an airtight container. It will keep for about a week if you keep it away from humidity. Store with a silica gel packet if you have one.
Please, give this popcorn recipe a try and let me know what you think in the comments.