Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn

All the health benefits of those last two posts…..oatmeal and a pumpkin smoothie…..are completely down the drain after this.  You're welcome!

I'm taking this to Tuscaloosa on Saturday as my tailgating contribution!  If. Mr. Buker doesn't eat it all first.  This is B.  A.  D.  In the best possible of ways.  I mean just look at that beautiful bacon all candied and shiny and sinful and ………

And that caramel sauce.  I'm lucky any actually made it onto the popcorn.  It kept getting stuck on my finger and then it got stuck in my mouth.  Like SEVERAL TIMES.  I do have to come clean and admit that I made this with Jack Daniels which I guess is technically whiskey.  I'm not stupid.  I know there's a difference between bourbon and whiskey.  I just don't know what it is.  If you're the bourbon/whiskey hoity toity type……I'm sorrrrry.  But it totally worked with Jack.  I guess you could make this without any alcohol and just use a standard caramel sauce, but we won't be friends.  

I recommend popping your own popcorn the old fashioned way for this.  For some reason, microwave popcorn doesn't hold up as well to the caramel.  You could also cheat and stop at the movie theater and buy a bucket (sans butter).  Hubs used to do that when we lived in Bloomfield Hills.  We had a movie theater on the corner of our street and on nights when I'd say I didn't feel like cooking, he'd stop and get a large bucket of buttered popcorn and bring it home for dinner!  Bottle of wine and a bucket of buttered popcorn……the good ole days!

I digress.

Pop your own popcorn.  It's easy.  A couple of tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom pot with a lid and a half cup corn kernels is all it takes.  I may or may not have used the leftover bacon grease to pop mine, but you don't have to.  It's really freakin good though.  And it's not like we're cutting any calories here.

So if you're going to be at the Alabama - LSU game this weekend, stop by my friends motorhome and have some caramel corn.  I have no idea where we'll be parked.  I've only been to Tuscaloosa once and rumor has it there's supposed to be more than 120,000 of my closest friends there, so you'll never find me.  Doesn't matter, there won't be any of this left anyway.

Here's the recipe:

I know it looks like a complicated endeavor, but really it's just frying some bacon, popping some popcorn and making a little ole caramel sauce.  Combine and bake.  Piece-o-cake….

Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 300 deg. F.

6 slices Applewood smoked bacon (stack them on top of each other and slice them crossways into about 1" pieces)

You want these to be crispy and I find the best way to do that is to make sure all the pieces are separated and put them into a cool (preferably cast iron) skillet.  Put it on the stove and turn the heat to medium and let the fat slowly render.  Stir it around a couple of times while it cooks, but generally try to leave it alone until it gets nice and brown and crisp.  Take the pan off the heat and with a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate leaving the grease in the pan.  Now you could then throw that grease out, or you could be bad like me and portion out and save about three tablespoons.

3 tbsp oil (or that tasty bacon fat)
1/2 cup corn kernels (I like Orville Redenbacher)
1 tsp salt

Put the oil into a heavy bottomed pot with tall sides.  You'll also need that pot to have a lid.  I use my pasta pot with a glass lid which makes it extremely easy to keep an eye on the popcorn.  Also add in 2-3 kernels and the salt and put the pot on medium heat.  Put the lid on.  As soon as you see/hear those kernels pop, add in the rest of the kernels, put the lid back on an give the pan a good shake to make sure all the kernels are coated in the oil.  They'll start popping in under a minute.  Give them a good start and then periodically shake the pan. This is not the time to walk away and check your instagram account.  Stay by the stove.   As soon as the popping starts to slow down (about 3-4 seconds between pops) remove the pan from the heat, shake a few times, and when you haven't heard any popping for about 5 seconds, dump the popped corn into a large bowl.

Add additional salt to taste.

Add in the cooled bacon.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup bourbon
1 tsp Sea Salt or Maldon Salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, washing down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Continue cooking, without stirring, until an amber caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream. Let cool for 1 minute, then stir in the bourbon and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Spray two heat proof spatulas/large spoons with cooking spray on both sides.

Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and bacon and immediately toss with the spatulas/spoons to get all the popcorn coated in the sauce.  Pour the coated popcorn onto the foil lined baking sheet and spread it into an even single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, tossing it a few times during baking.  Remove to a cooling rack and continue to toss it periodically while it cools.  I transferred mine to another baking sheet coated in non-stick spray after about 10 minutes because it started to stick to the foil, but play it by ear.  As soon as its cool all the way put it in an air tight container.  You'll have to continue to break it up.  It likes to stick together.

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