Popcorn Smorgasbord

February 2, 2008

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I’m guessing that most of this blog’s readers have long since plotted out their lavish Super Bowl party spreads. Or, if you’re headed to someone else’s party, you’ve probably scoured your recipe file for the most show-stopping (Janet Jackson-esque?) treat to bring along with you.

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But just in case you haven’t, I thought I’d share this quick, easy and infinitely-adaptable idea. Call it a popcorn bar (that smacks of Food Network), a trio of popcorns (a little pretentious, no?) or, if your heritage matches mine, a popcorn smorgasbord.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipes.)

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Like I said, you can take the general idea and tweak it to fit your tastes. But I quite like the three popcorn seasonings you see here: one features thyme, pecorino, black pepper and lemon zest; another is a coating of rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar and parmesan; and the final one is a dusting of brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg.

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So, you’ve got the savory, spicy and sweet. And the hardest part is choosing your favorite (oh, and restraint is difficult too, I should note). I expected to like the spicy popcorn the best, but savory—the real dark horse—surprised me. And, trust me, I was only able to decide after ample taste testing.

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Basic Popcorn Recipe

1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup popcorn kernels

Pour the oil into the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed dutch oven. Pour the kernels over the oil in a single layer. Cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Heat the covered pan over medium-high heat and cook, covered, until the sound of popping kernels ceases. Yields: 18 cups.

Spicy Rosemary-Cayenne Popcorn

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups popped popcorn (recipe above)

In the bottom of a large bowl, mix the butter, rosemary, parmesan, brown sugar, cayenne and salt. Pour the popcorn into the large bowl. Stir the popcorn to evenly coat the kernels with the seasoning.

Savory Lemon-Thyme Popcorn

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced thyme
2 tablespoons grated pecorino
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups popped popcorn (recipe above)

In the bottom of a large bowl, mix the butter, thyme, pecorino, lemon zest, black pepper and salt. Pour the popcorn into the large bowl. Stir the popcorn to evenly coat the kernels with the seasoning.

Sweet Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated (or ground) nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups popped popcorn (recipe above)

In the bottom of a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Pour the popcorn into the large bowl. Stir the popcorn to evenly coat the kernels with the seasoning.

8 Responses to “Popcorn Smorgasbord”

  1. amanda Says:

    my sweet tooth and I love the cinnamon and sugar combo. that has long been my fav. once, when I was at camp ages ago, I fell in love with popcorn drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate. you should try that. talk about an indulgent sweet and salty snack.

  2. lindsay Says:

    i’ve never made popcorn in my dutch oven before.. i’ll have to give it a try! do you have to shake it around at all, like using a pot that’s made of something thinner?

    i’ll definitely have to give those toppings a try.
    cheers!

  3. ourkitchensink Says:

    Amanda: Indulgent indeed! Yum.

    Lindsay: I didn’t shake mine at all and it came out great. That said, I took it off the heat as soon as it stopped popping. Do try the toppings and weigh in your favorite!

  4. JEP Says:

    OMG–these popcorn ideas are brilliant & the cinnamon-sugar is definitely a “winner” for my sweet tooth!

  5. brilynn Says:

    I’m a big fan of combining cumin, salt, sugar and paprika, it’s a good one!

  6. a. grace Says:

    orville redenbacher, eat your heart out!

  7. Skye Says:

    In addition to being an adventurous chef, you are also an excellent photographer. You compose and light your shots in a way that really flatters the food. This, of course, is imperative to making something that relies heavily on “taste” appealing even just looking at it.

    Keep it up!

  8. ourkitchensink Says:

    Skye: That’d be nice to hear from anyone, but it means a lot coming from you! Thanks.


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