4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, extra-sharp, finely grated
salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble finely.
Pour 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat into a stove-top popcorn popper or deep, heavy saucepan with a lid, add vegetable oil, and heat over moderately high heat until the mixture begins to smoke. Add the popcorn, cover, and shake the pan until the popping stops. Pour the popcorn into a large ovenproof pot, add the cheese, bacon, and salt, and toss. Heat in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings
Courtesy of James Villas, author of The Bacon Cookbook
For ages, bacon has had an affinity with corn and cornmeal in any number of traditional American dishes (succotash, johnnycakes, corn chowder, crackling cornbread), so why shouldn’t it, along with tangy cheddar cheese, be used to give popcorn a whole new character? What’s essential here for optimal flavor is that the bacon fat be added to the cooking oil. To keep the popcorn from losing all crispiness, place it in the oven just until the melted cheese coats the popped kernels the way butter normally would.