Monday, January 30, 2012

Parmesan Garlic Popcorn

A couple of months ago, I posted that I had no idea how to make popcorn.  It was true.  I grew up with an electric popper, something like this, and then we graduated to microwave popcorn sometime in my teens.  However, microwave popcorn isn't exactly food, and while there are home-made microwavy alternatives, I wanted to do it right, on the stovetop.

I was worried that my pots wouldn't work for it, but that's what The Google* is for.   I actually searched out my particular brand and style of pot, with the word "popcorn," and found enough reviews with folks raving about how awesome these pots were for making popcorn to make me feel comfortable. 

So, once I was sure popcorn wasn't going to ruin the coating on my Lodge pots,  it was time to figure out how one makes popcorn.   Again with The Google.   The first time I made it, I used the Simply Recipes version, word for word.   It was amazing - fluffy, appropriately textured and not a single burnt or unpopped kernel.  I highly recommend that recipe.  You should use hers, and not whatever I'm about to tell you.

The thing is, 3 tablespoons of oil is kind of a lot.  Also, if you're going to add butter, then 3 tablespoons of oil is really far too much oil.   Already you're at 350 calories (40 grams of fat).  Also, I wanted to add cheese. And this is a recipe that makes an appropriate amount for Sous Chef Brian and I to shove into our faces on the couch, but not enough to share with others.  

This is why the air poppers and the microwave kind were invented.   This is why, during my lifetime, popcorn has been considered a diet food... because we've been making it without oil. 

So, I slowly started reducing the oil, and it worked.  The whole time, I've been working with a third of a cup of kernels**, because that makes a good big bowl of popcorn, and just dialing back the oil a bit.  

My version is not as perfect as the Simply Recipes recipe.  I've had unpopped kernels.  I've had a few burned pieces (not enough to care).  So, if you're looking to impress you friends, please, do it her way.  If you're looking for something cheesy and garlicky to shove in your face, do this. 

A tablespoon and a half of oil (I've been loving avocado oil for this, but I've done safflower too) plus a quarter teaspoon of salt in a heavy pot with a lid.  Add a few kernels of popcorn and cover.  Heat on medium until those kernels pop.  Add a third cup of kernels.  Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 seconds.  Turn the heat back to medium, tilt the lid to vent (avoiding gummy popcorn) and shake the pot over the heat.  Shake for 30, watch for 30, shake for 30, etc.  When it's been 20 seconds without a pop, turn it off, keep it vented and give it a final shake.  Safe?  Good, you've got popcorn. 

Now add your goodies.  Best to prepare in advance so you can move quickly with hot popcorn. 

There have historically been two awesome places to get spices here.  The Spice Corner and The Spice Terminal. A couple of years ago I read that The Spice Corner had closed, and I believed what I read and accepted it.  Then I went to The Spice Terminal and they were closing and I thought I was screwed.  I thought I'd be one of those frilly people who orders their spices online.  So I scooped up the dregs of what The Spice Terminal was selling, including some smoked garlic, and went home to weep.  Then, just now, I Googled The Spice Corner and it seems to be back in business.  So all is not lost. 

Short story long, I had this smoked garlic.  And it was awesome.  But regular garlic powder is fine too. 

So while the popcorn is hot, drizzle a tablespoon or two of melted butter on top (your call, your waistline).  Toss and sprinkle a quarter cup of shredded parmesan on top.  Keep tossing (you'll have sticky bits now) and sprinkle on a half tablespoon of garlic powder (smoked or otherwise).

Yeah, the pictures aren't great, because I didn't really think I'd be writing about popcorn.  What you see here is a clump of smoked-garlicky cheese nestled in some popcorn.  

Tangy, cheesy, salty, buttery, garlicky goodness.  No, popcorn is not health food, but it's pretty awesome. 

*If we all decide to quit using The Google and The Google products, since they're harvesting too much information, what will my references to web searches look like?   The Altavista?  The Yahoo?  I'm sure as hell not switching to The Bing

**I've been getting "Japanese Hull-less Popcorn" from a local farm.  It's awesome, because it doesn't mess with my gums (you know what I mean, right, with popcorn?).  If there's something like that available where you live, go ahead and get it. It's worth it. 

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