Like most Southern love stories, this one starts in a small town where everybody knows your business be it good or bad. Due to the zealous nature of southern socialites, a wedding is typically a town-wide affair, even if only a few select locals get an invite. So when a local boy marries a local girl, you know its going to be a big ordeal. Sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, all the women gather to plan and curate the perfect day in the hopes that the other townfolk might talk about it for years to come. We don’t ever say this aloud, of course, but everybody thinks as much.
Just over a month ago, my lovely little sister-in-law married a local boy and all the women from both sides of the family practically chomped at the bit to be involved. Normally, that many detail-oriented minds would wreck havoc on one another and the task at hand, but there’s something special about a southern wedding that grants every woman involved an extra ounce of sanity to carry them through. The bride, of course, gets an extra helping.
While there were plenty of details from that lovely weekend that still stick vividly in my mind – did I mention that my new brother-in-law brewed his own beer for the reception? – the one that has stayed with me the longest was a simple little snack served at the rehearsal dinner. Bacon. Salt. Popcorn.
I know, I know. I should say that the bride’s lovely gown took my breath away – which it did. Or maybe that the German Chocolate groom’s cake was simply divine – but I never got to taste it. Perhaps the right answer is something about the swell chalkboard signage or the rustic wedding stationery suite – but you see I designed those so I can’t be too surprised now can I? So it all comes back to this bacon salt popcorn. So simple and the perfect combination of salty-sweet-crunchy. Tell me, what wedding dress can do that?
The entire wedding weekend was a kind of homage to white winter nature. I swear everything and everyone smelled of campfires and, if we hadn’t been in central Texas, the threat of snow seemed oh so imminent. Both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding were outdoor-inspired with collections of local trimmings – including yaupon branches, gilded winged elm, and dried grapevine – adorning each table and we bridesmaids dressed in hues of muted green. The rehearsal dinner was an indoor picnic complete with tartan everything, compostable utensils, handheld portions of this and that, candlelight, and, the bacon salt popcorn. It wasn’t even a main feature of the evening, demurely packaged in small brown paper bags, but I think I ate more of it than anything else – the grandma’s recipe for homemade sugar cookies n’ milk included.
I’m not even sure who deserves the credit. The caterers, the mother-of-the-groom, perhaps the fun new sister-in-law-in-law I’ve acquired through this marriage? Well whomever it should go to, I apologize, because I’m just going to give all my praise to the bride. You see, that’s how these southern weddings go. No matter who was involved, all credit goes to the bride because without her lovely, lovely presence – and, I guess, the groom’s as well – the wedding and all other festivities wouldn’t even be possible. So there you have it, my sister-in-law – newly married, current PhD candidate, proud new baby beagle mother, and latte enthusiast – has graced the world with bacon salt popcorn.
However, since my sister-in-law probably didn’t come up with bacon salt popcorn she couldn’t very well provide me with a recipe. So I’ve come up with an approximation of my own devising using just a few simple ingredients. The bacon salt, while clearly meant for freshly popped popcorn, also features quite fetchingly sprinkled over baked potatoes, on warm flapjacks, in cornbread, with cheese and apples, and pretty much anything else.
DIY Bacon Salt
makes a scant cup
4 strips bacon, about 1/2 cup (not especially flavored with maple, pepper, etc)
1/4 cup fine sea salt
3 teaspoons brown sugar
pinch black pepper
1. Cook bacon till very crisp, but not burnt. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Strain grease and save for later.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a food process and blend until thoroughly combined. Careful not to over blend as the bacon will become paste like. Transfer to a small jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.
This is my go to recipe for popcorn these days. We aren’t partial to the pre-bagged stuff and microwave air-popping in folded paper bags just doesn’t cut it for us. This makes enough popcorn for at least two people to share or one person through a fairly long movie marathon.
recipe inspired by this one from The Kitchn
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1-2 teaspoons melted bacon grease (or oil or butter)
1. Place a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil.
2. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add three kernels. When one or more of the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn kernels and cover.
3. Turn off the heat, and shake the pot while you count slowly to 30. Turn the heat back on and continue to shake the pot over the burner to prevent the kernels from burning. Keep shaking until most of the kernels have popped or the timing between pops is about 1-2 seconds. Remove from heat (careful, as a few more kernels could still pop), drizzle the popped corn with the melted bacon grease, sprinkle liberally with bacon salt, and toss to combine.
Main takeaway from the wedding: everyone and everything was lovely and more weddings should have bacon salt popcorn.