By Freya Bellin
You may be wondering why you’d need a recipe for something as simple as popcorn, but follow any of the variations below, and you’ll see that popcorn need not be simple—at least not in flavor. As with most pre-packaged foods, microwaveable popcorn doesn’t allow you much control over its seasoning. When you pop plain corn kernels, however, you have the freedom to add as much or as little salt, oil, or anything else, as you like. It tastes cleaner and fresher than anything you can get in a package.
It turns out that popcorn is the perfect “nosh” food for entertaining, especially when you can make it gourmet. I tried three variations: sautéed garlic, curry powder, and truffle salt. The truffle salt by far was the biggest hit. Note that seasonings like minced garlic won’t stick well to the popcorn unless they’re both hot. In general, though, as long as you’ve used enough oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan) the extra ingredients should stick fine. The popcorn tastes best hot, so only make as much as you’ll eat in a day. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Makes: 4 to 8 servings
Time: About 10 minutes
Real hot popcorn is one of nature’s ultimate convenience foods. I can’t say this strongly enough: There’s no reason to use microwavable packages, no matter how “natural” they claim to be. Any popcorn can be microwaved, as you’ll see below.
Toss the popcorn with extra ingredients while it’s still warm and the seasonings will stick pretty well, even without adding any more fat. You can even cook popcorn in olive oil as long as you lower the heat as needed to keep it from burning; the flavor is delicious.
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup popping corn
2 to 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil, optional
Salt (and other seasonings from the list that follows if you like)
1. Put the vegetable oil in a large, deep pan (6 quarts or so). Turn the heat to medium, add 3 kernels of corn, and cover.
2. When the kernels pop, remove the lid and add the remaining corn. Cover and shake the pot, holding the lid on. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops after about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter or gently warm the olive oil if you’re using it.
3. Turn the popcorn into a large bowl; drizzle with butter or olive oil if you like, and sprinkle with salt while tossing the popcorn. Serve immediately.
Microwave Popcorn (Makes 2 to 4 servings). In a small glass container, or a brown paper lunch bag, combine 1⁄4 cup popping corn with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and fold the top of the bag over a couple of times. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until there are 4 or 5 seconds between pops. Open the bag or container carefully, because steam will have built up. Toss with your seasonings and a drizzle of butter or olive oil or serve as is.
Garlic Popcorn. Use the optional butter or oil and as you melt or heat it, add a tablespoon minced garlic and cook until soft and turning golden. Strain the garlic bits out as you pour the butter over the popcorn—or not.
A Dozen Ways to Spike Your Popcorn
Toss any of these with just-cooked popcorn, alone or in combination. Since some are more potent than others, start with a light sprinkle and taste as you go.
Chopped fresh herbs
Curry powder, or garam or chaat masala
Old Bay seasoning
Toasted sesame seeds
Cayenne or red chile flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese
Finely ground nuts or shredded, unsweetened coconut
Chopped dried fruit