Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F, and line a baking tray with a Silpat or silicon baking sheet. Don’t have one? Then line your tray with tin foil and spray the tin foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Fry the bacon in a pan, until the bacon is crunchy. Remove the bacon and cut into small pieces, and set aside. Spoon the remaining fat into a large saucepan with a lid.
Make sure you have enough bacon fat to cover the bottom of the pan. If not, add some canola or vegetable oil to the fat – and then add four popcorn kernels. Cover the pan and place over medium heat. When the kernels pop, VERY CAREFULLY (because that oil is very hot and can burn you!) add your popcorn kernels and re-cover the pan.
Shaking the pan constantly to ensure that the kernels don’t burn, while the popcorn pops. Once the pops are 3 to 5 seconds apart, remove the pot from heat.
Dump your popped popcorn onto your baking sheet. Spread the popcorn out with a wooden spoon. Pick out any unpopped kernels. Evenly sprinkle a couple pinches salt over the hot popcorn and allow to cool.
Once the popcorn is cool, put the popcorn back into a big bowl. Sprinkle on the chopped bacon and set the bowl aside.
Whisk together the Dell Cove® Kettle Corn Popcorn Seasoning and baking soda, then set aside.
Get a medium-sized saucepan. Stir together the butter, sugar and corn syrup over low-to-medium heat. Stir until well mixed, and your sugars have melted and it is just beginning to boil. At this point, stop mixing. (Trust us. Just let it be.)
If you have a candy thermometer, insert it into the pot and continue to allow the sugar-butter mixture to boil until it reaches 238 degrees F. No thermometer? You can guesstimate it: Let the mixture bubble for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Once the mixture reaches the proper temperature – or time – remove the pan from the heat and add the popcorn seasoning and baking soda mix. Then stir that to mix everything together well, for about 30 seconds to one minute.
Important note: Don’t panic if your caramel foams up or changes colors at this stage. It’s happening because of a chemical reaction from the caramel sauce to the baking soda, which is adding more air to the caramel and thinning it out a bit. (Which makes it easier to use to coat your popcorn.)
You need to stay focused and careful at this step, because you are going to be moving quickly and can burn yourself. (I say this from experience.) Pour your caramel mix over the popcorn and bacon pieces in the bowl and quickly stir everything together. Coat everything with the caramel.
Spread the caramel coated popcorn on the prepared baking sheet. Bake it for about 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 10 to 15 minutes. (This step helps to make sure all of your popcorn is coated with the caramel.)
Once the popcorn is crunchy and golden brown, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Break any large clump up into smaller bites and then serve. Have extra? You can store your bacon caramel popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.