Ingredients for 11 servings
- ¾ lbs. bacon, diced
- 1 cup popcorn kernels (22 cups popped corn)
- Butter – the amount you'll need will depend on how much bacon fat you have. Up to 1 cup
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons bourbon, divided
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1Place the diced bacon in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the bacon for 7-10 minutes, or until it is quite crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve the bacon fat.
2Pour 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat into a large pot over medium heat. Add 2-3 popcorn kernels and cover the pot. When you hear the first kernels start to pop add the remaining kernels all at once. Give the pot a shake and reduce the temperature to medium low. Continue shaking the pot occasionally until most of the popping has died down. Remove the pot from the heat. Pour the popcorn into 1 very large or 2 large bowls, making sure that no un-popped kernels get into the bowl.
3Pour the reserved bacon fat into a 1 cup measuring up. Fill the rest of the cup with butter and then pour it into a medium sized pot*. Add the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of the bourbon and the sea salt to the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and bring the pot to a boil. Stir the pot once then let it boil without stirring until the candy thermometer reads 275 degrees. (This will take approximately 4-5 minutes.) When the candy thermometer reads 275 degrees immediately remove the pot from the heat and stir through the baking soda, vanilla, cayenne pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Be careful at this point as the caramel will bubble up considerably and create a lot of steam.
4Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn, tossing the popcorn as you pour the caramel over it. Toss the crispy bacon through the popcorn.
5Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking trays with parchment paper. Pour the caramel covered popcorn evenly between the two trays. Bake the popcorn in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
6Remove the popcorn from the oven and let it cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.