I am crazy about popcorn.
When we were kids, my dad would make popcorn regularly and season it liberally with the spices of his heritage—salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika. Sometimes garlic powder. Ok, so maybe salt and pepper and those allium powders aren't really heritage—the paprika, though, is. It was probably one of the first spices I encountered beyond the usual gamut, and it wasn't something I saw used on anything else. Until I was an adult, I didn't really understand that paprika could have applications other than as a kick-ass popcorn seasoner. You know, like as in chicken paprikash, for one.
I've shared this love of making popcorn with my kids, who now look forward to it on lazy afternoons, before a movie, or as an after school snack. With all the packaged salty snacks on the market, popcorn is so cheap and easy to make on your own. And it's endlessly adaptable; it can go sweet or savory. Although I am calling this my childhood popcorn, I'm tweaking it for 2016. So that means instead of childhood's margarine (eeesh) and salt and pepper and paprika, we're incorporating ingredients such as cultured Irish butter combined with a little bit of coconut oil, sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and paprika. The combination of coconut oil and paprika is an intriguing one, and takes the popcorn in an unusually savory direction. Oh, and we're using organic popcorn now, too. It also means that I'm using an air popper, which is what I have, and not doing it over the stove, which is the classic method. Feel free to incorporate whatever method suits you best; so might say mine is sacrilege. I'm just going with nostalgia here on this one, folks.
This hardly is a recipe; it's more like a set of instructions. I don't use a whole lot of butter or oil; just enough, really, to coat it and give it some flavor. You don't want super greasy hands, now do you?
- 1/2 cup popping corn
- 1 T. extra virgin coconut oil (unrefined)
- 1 T. cultured butter (local, Irish, or otherwise; the good stuff)
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
If you are using an air popper, pour the popcorn into the chamber and turn it on, with a bowl in place to catch the flying corn. While that's happening, melt together the coconut oil and butter in a small heatproof bowl. If you are using the microwave, stop it just short of totally melting. Stir the last bit together until it melts completely. Gently whisk in the paprika and eliminate any clumps. Pour the combo over the popcorn.
If you are doing this over the stovetop in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, you'll end up using a few tablespoons of an oil that can take high-heat (peanut is often used) and heat it up. Add a few kernels, cover and wait for them to pop. Once you hear them pop, lift the lid, add the rest, and then, keeping your hand on the lid, shake the pot so the kernels don't burn as they pop. This is a much more labor intensive process, as you can see. Wait until you don't hear any more popping; there will always be some stragglers making. Finally, add your oil-butter-paprika to coat, pop the lid back on and shake, shake shake.
The only regret I have about this entire exercise is that we don't have the 1970s era Tupperware popcorn bowl that we used for popcorn. It was white, perfectly fit just one batch of popcorn and possibly toxic, in hindsight. We'd all take turns shaking the margarine and paprika to coat it evenly. And just because we were kids, and it was fun.
Do you have a nostalgia-driven snack?