Recipe: Nigel Slater's Fennel Seed & Pancetta Popcorn


A stark contrast to toffee, sweet or salt, this savoury popcorn recipe from Nigel Slater is like nothing you’ve ever tried. Perfect winter nibbles.

For 8-10
bacon or pancetta 150g, sliced thinly
butter 125g
fennel seeds 2 tbsp
popping corn 125g

Lay the bacon or pancetta on a baking sheet and cook under a hot grill until crisp. Turn and cook the other side. You are after truly crisp flesh. Lift the rashers from the tray and place on kitchen paper. Reserve the fat in the tray, tipping it into a deep saucepan.

Melt 95g of the butter in a small pan. While it melts, bash the fennel seed using a pestle and mortar, to release its fragrance, not to crush to a powder, then add to the butter and stir, letting it warm gently. Turn off the heat.

Melt the remaining butter in the bacon fat over a moderate heat, then add the popping corn. Cover tightly with a lid, shaking the pan occasionally, until the kernels have popped. This will take anything between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on the heat and thickness of your pan.

Crumble the bacon or pancetta into tiny pieces, add to the fennel-seed butter with a little sea salt then fold into the popcorn and serve.

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