Posts tagged gourmet popcorn
Posts tagged gourmet popcorn
CrunchDaddy Popcorn is produced in Maryland… not exactly the BBQ capital of the U.S., but we can hang with the best of them and proudly do.
It was during a recent all-day smoking session that the discussion turned to what makes for great, authentic smoked BBQ flavor. In this case, these two 10-lb pork butts (below) were being smoked lovingly and gently for 11 hours by using hickory wood chips in the Brinkmann smoker. It’s the kind of BBQ aroma that will drive the neighbors nuts, so be prepared for guests!
(For the record… The smoked pork shown above is not charred, not burned, but rather displaying the highly coveted “bark” that comes naturally from proper smoking… Slightly crisp with a smoked jerky-like quality on the outside… Hungry yet?)
My guests were surprised to learn that not all “smoked” food items are truly smoked, but rather artificially flavored… and this practice is much more common than most people know. Sadly, products like liquid smoke and smoke flavored powders are mass produced and sold in huge quantities to the restaurant and food production industries. Despite the claims of authenticity and purity from the manufacturers of these flavorings, they taste awful. Liquid smoke is so bad that it made the Health Magazine’s list of “18 Most Sickening Food Ingredients”.
When it came time to develop a recipe for our Smokey Cheddar Crunch, we knew that the smokey taste had to be authentic… but we also knew that we couldn’t actually “smoke” the popcorn nor the Cabot white cheddar cheese that we use… and using a liquid or powdered “smoke” flavoring was simply out of the question.
Our solution was found in the naturally smokey taste of Spanish smoked Paprika, known in Spain as “Pimentón de la Vera”. This magical spice is created by smoking the small, freshly-harvested red chiles over oak wood fires for 1-2 weeks and then milling them finely on stone wheels. The result is a highly prized spice that is indispensable to Spanish cooking as well as to the making of our Smokey Cheddar Crunch!
The lesson here is to take great care in the ingredients that you choose as well as the products that you purchase at the market. Read the labels on your favorite seasonings, BBQ sauces and other “smokey” flavored items. Skip anything that contains “smoke flavoring” and invest the time and love that it takes to make your smoked BBQ experience as tasty and rewarding as possible. You’ll be THRILLED with the results!
There’s a story behind every CrunchDaddy Popcorn flavor, because each one evolves and is always considered a work in progress. We play around with original taste combinations for our gourmet popcorn, savory and sweet, as we never use the common, artificial flavorings that so many popcorn makers use.
Most of my fellow Marylanders would agree that the definitive taste of our great state is the Chesapeake Bay seasoning that we use on our steamed crabs, shrimp and other seafood. We in Maryland love the taste so much that we put in on our chicken wings, our French fries, in barbecue sauces, in our soups and stews… and on our popcorn!
One of our most recent CrunchDaddy flavor releases is “Chesapeake Peanut Crunch.” It’s a kicked-up version of our Caramel & Peanut Crunch… spiced with Chesapeake seasoning for a sweet, spicy, peanutty, crunchy and salty experience that immediately rings the flavor bell for the locals in Maryland.
It sounds like an easy product to develop, but we’re very picky about our ingredients… and the common Chesapeake spice blends that we found in the local supermarket just didn’t work well for us. By the time we developed Chesapeake Peanut Crunch we were also producing Maryland Crab Feast Crunch (with Chesapeake seasoning, vinegar and sea salt) and had retired an old kettle corn variety that used the same seasoning. Each flavor had merits, but lacked something that always left us feeling as though these flavors could be improved.
As luck or providence would have it… CrunchDaddy has a great friend and customer, Jennifer, who lives in Frederick, Maryland. Several months ago she messaged me to ask if our products were made with “J.O. Spice”… and if not, could she introduce me to her connection at J.O. Spice and perhaps get a sample of their product to me. After a busy holiday season it was time to look into what was lacking in our flavors that use Chesapeake seasoning and time to get a taste of this wonderful J.O. Spice seasoning that Jennifer raved about.
Through some experimentation we discovered that the gourmet popcorn products we were working on tasted much better when made with sea salt rather than common iodized salt… and that a finer spice blend would adhere to the popcorn more consistently. With these issues in mind we finally got the opportunity to try J.O. Spice and meet with the owners of the company, Don and Ginger Ports. I shared with them my experiences with using other Chesapeake spice blends and my desire to create a better tasting, better seasoned and overall more consistent product that would represent our beloved taste of Maryland.
By the end of our meeting, Don and Ginger agreed to produce a custom blend of their J.O. Spice to our specifications, with sea salt, that would take our Chesapeake Peanut Crunch and Maryland Crab Feast Crunch to the level of quality and taste that we were looking for… and they delivered! The difference in taste and quality were obvious and we knew immediately that our gourmet popcorn products would be made with J.O. Spice from here on.
You won’t find J.O. Spice in every grocery store, but in Maryland you can count on finding it in the crab houses and seafood restaurants that feature the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, because J.O. Spice is the overwhelming choice for those who know how our crabs and seafood should taste.
Count us at CrunchDaddy Popcorn among those in the know, as we are proud to represent the state of Maryland by using J.O. Spice on our gourmet popcorn!
Here’s your chance to witness the CrunchDaddy Kitchen in action!!
How many times do we hear companies tout that a certain product is “New and Improved”, only to find out that it really doesn’t taste or perform any better or any worse than it already had?
Well, dear friends… We at CrunchDaddy Popcorn are proud and excited to tell you that we’ve been hard at work to improve one of our classic, original savory flavors, White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch. At long last, we’ve nailed it!!
“But if it’s classic and original, why mess with it?”
The truth is that while we love cheddar cheese on our popcorn and go crazy for horseradish, we have had a terrible time sourcing horseradish that has just the right taste to make this flavor a winner on a regular basis. Horseradish lovers crave the fiery sensation that it brings to the palate… and when blended with fine cheddar cheese it can be heavenly.
Unfortunately, horseradish can also be terribly bitter when not processed properly. Perhaps it has to do with the region in where it is grown, the soil, the moisture or other factors that only a horseradish expert would know. All we know is that the taste of the horseradish that we purchase for CrunchDaddy Popcorn varies wildly. The inconsistent quality has made it terribly difficult to produce a product with the flavor and heat that our customers demand and without the medicinal bitterness that horseradish can bring.
Frankly, it’s been maddening… to the point that we nearly discontinued the product!
Yet, we love challenges… and we don’t give up that easily! Thus, we decided to approach the flavor in an entirely different way. Per customer demands, we knew we needed more of that classic horseradish HEAT, the kind that wakes your taste buds and makes your eyes water just a bit!! Beyond that, we needed a more consistent quality of horseradish that was free of the bitterness that was too familiar to us.
After some research, consultation with a horseradish expert (by luck!) and some late night experiments in the CrunchDaddy test kitchen, we’re proud to tell you that White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch has evolved… Truly “New and Improved”, with all of the great taste and zesty spice that our customers have asked of us! This flavor is one that deserves a place at your next cocktail party!!