Duck Fat Popcorn
God bless France.
I saw this recipe for popcorn dressed in duck fat (indeed, “the most noble of fats”) gently scented in orange zest and garlic and thyme and suddenly had to make it right now. But whence does one procure duck fat? At home I’d go to Surfas, the enormous cooking equipment and specialty food store, but here? Maybe the butcher’s? The luxury foods shop that carries all the terrines and caviar and truffles?
Turns out, the answer is the grocery store. Next to the filets of duck breast and rabbit meat. Duh.
Only in France.
- 5 tablespoons duck fat, divided
- 7 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped finely (about 1 tablespoon leaves)
- 1-2 garlic cloves, smashed (1 is lovely and balanced, 2 is more heady)
- 1 1”x2” strip orange zest
- 1 tablespoon flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola
- 1/3 cup popping corn
- Fine salt, to taste
- Grated orange zest, to taste, for garnish
- In your smallest saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the duck fat with the thyme sprigs, about 2/3 of the chopped thyme leaves, the garlic, and the orange zest over very low heat. Allow to infuse for about 15 minutes. It should only sizzle the tiniest bit. Remove the pan from the heat for a few minutes if it gets too hot.
- In a large pot (at least 3 quarts), heat the vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tbsp of duck fat over medium heat. Once the duck fat has melted, drop in four kernels of popcorn, put the lid on, and wait for the four kernels to pop.
- When the kernels have popped, immediately remove the pot from the heat and add the rest of the popcorn. Wait thirty seconds, then put the pot back on the fire. The corn should start popping almost immediately. Shake the pan every few seconds to make the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom of the pot. When popping slows to about 5 seconds between pops, remove from the heat and pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
- Remove the thyme sprigs, garlic, and orange zest from the infused duck fat. Drizzle the infused duck fat over the popcorn, stirring between additions. Season: toss with three pinches of salt, the remaining thyme, and orange zest.
Adapted from Gilt Taste.
I know, I know, five tablespoons of duck fat. Just do it. You’ll thank me.
Also, have you ever poured real melted butter on top of popcorn only to have it completely deflate and turn into a soggy mess? It won’t happen here. It’s the water content in butter that causes popcorn deflation, so the pure duck fat will just slick the outsides of the kernels with flavor, not sink into the fluffy corn.
If you have an air popper, feel free to pop the corn in there instead of on the stove.
Music to cook by: Human of the Year [Regina Spektor // Far]