The Great Canadian Popcorn - Candied Maple Bacon Recipe
When people from other countries think of Canada there are a few things that seem to always come up – Hockey, Beer, Winter and Maple Syrup. So, when it came time for me to invent something to celebrate Canada's 150th, I couldn't help but embrace the last item on that list.
What goes with maple syrup? I ponder, then begin to rifle through the large inventory of varied items in my CornPopper.ca pantry. I pull out not one, but two kinds of bacon seasoning – SCORE! I decide to make a variation on kettle corn. A sweet and salty combo that would be uniquely Canadian and topped with clusters of candied maple bacon.
A few days later while at my friend D'Arcy's place, I spot the missing link to make this recipe over the top Canadian - a bag of maple flakes! They are crystallized flakes made from pure maple syrup and they taste AMAZING! D'Arcy kindly says I can take the bag if she gets to sample the popcorn once it's done – SWEET DEAL! (pardon the pun).
Once home, I make the first batch and my kitchen smells so tasty it's insane. So, Happy 150th Canada, thanks for being such a wonderful place to live, and for your great bounty of maple syrup. The world is a yummier place because of it.
Here's what you'll need:
- ½ lb bacon
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup Gourmet Yellow or Gourmet White kernels from Flyer Foods.
- 2 tbsp Bacon grease
- ½ tsp Bring Home the Bacon popcorn seasoning
- ½ tsp Bacon Salt
- ½ cup maple flakes
Cut the bacon into small pieces and add them to a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Render the bacon until very crispy, remove from the pan and drain the bacon grease into a small bowl. Return the bacon to the pan and add your maple syrup making sure to stir with a wooden spoon so all the bacon gets coated. The maple syrup will adhere after about a minute or so.
Spread the mixture into small chunks over a piece of parchment paper and let cool. Once it's hardened you may need to break it into smaller chunks – this can be done by folding over the parchment paper and banging it with a rolling pin.
Add the 2 tbsp of bacon grease to your Whirley Pop popcorn popper and put it over medium heat. Let it heat through then add a few “test kernels”. Once they pop, add the White Meadows popcorn kernels, the maple flakes and bacon salt and begin cranking the handle. Slowly but constantly stir to avoid burning the sugar. Once the popping noises slow down remove from the heat and keep stirring until the noise stops completely.
Spread the popcorn onto a piece of parchment paper, allow to cool and then separate the chunks that are stuck together. Keep an eye out for any un-popped kernels and remove any that may be stuck to your popped popcorn. Place it into a bowl and add your candied bacon clusters. Give everything a gentle mix.
- Stirring is the key to successful kettle corn and this is where the Whirley pop popcorn maker shines. Having the crank handle allows for consistent stirring and lessens the likely hood the popcorn will burn.
- You might not be able to find maple flakes so you can substitute maple sugar instead. Given maple sugar is a small grained product you may want to reduce the amount you use. I'd try ¼ cup so that the popcorn isn't overly sweet.
- I know you're wondering why in the world I used the bacon grease. Well, it all comes down to flavour. You need some sort of oil. In this case using the bacon grease as your source will help re-enforce the bacon flavour. If you really don't want to use it – by all means, swap it out for any other oil, but, in my opinion, you're missing out if you do.