"Gourmet popcorn" used to mean tall bags or giant cans of salty, sugary, often artificially seasoned kernels. Not anymore. Freshly popped kernels and inspired flavor combinations are redefining the term and winning new fans along the way.
Popcorn poppers and microwaveable bags are convenient, but they're not necessary. Here's how to get perfect results when you pop your own kernels.
ON THE STOVE TOP
Use a paper towel to spread 2 tsp. vegetable or olive oil over bottom of a medium or large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 1/4 cup popcorn kernels, cover pan, and cook undisturbed over medium-low heat until popping becomes vigorous. Once popping starts to slow, give the pan a shake, and remove from heat. When popping has slowed to 2- to 3-second intervals between pops, transfer to serving bowl.
IN THE MICROWAVE
Place 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a flat-bottomed brown paper lunch bag, and seal the bag by folding the top lip over twice (do not staple). Place bag on its flat side in microwave, and heat 2-3 minutes on high power, or until popping slows to 2- to 3-second intervals between pops. Alternatively, place kernels in a medium microwave-safe bowl and set a microwave-safe plate on top to seal.
Serves 8 | 30 minutes or less
For just a hint of heat, strain the jalapeño pieces out of the oil before drizzling it over the popcorn.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. thinly sliced jalapeño chile
8 cups freshly popped hot popcorn
2 Tbs. grated lime zest
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- Heat oil and jalapeño in small skillet over medium heat. Cook 1 minute, or until jalapeño sizzles. Season with salt, if desired, and continue cooking 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.
- Drizzle popcorn with oil-jalapeño mixture. Sprinkle with lime zest and cilantro.
per serving: 92 cal; 1g pro; 7g total fat (<1g sat fat); 7g carb; 0mg chol; 1mg sod; 1g fiber; <1g sugars
Serves 8 | 30 minutes or less
Butter and brown sugar are cooked together to make a rich toffee for this decadent treat. In place of corn syrup, which helps prevent the caramel from crystallizing as it cooks, we've used Lyle's Golden Syrup, made from cane sugar.
6 cups freshly popped hot popcorn
3/4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs. butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. Lyle's Golden Syrup
- Line large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place popcorn in very large heat-proof bowl with room for stirring; sprinkle almonds on top.
- Melt butter, brown sugar, and syrup in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine. Place candy thermometer in mixture, and let mixture come to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently with heat-proof whisk or spatula to prevent caramel from burning, until caramel darkens and candy thermometer registers 280°F. Remove pan from heat, and season with salt, if desired.
- Working quickly, drizzle popcorn and nuts with caramel, tossing rapidly with two heat-proof spatulas to coat popcorn and nuts and prevent clumping. Spread on foil-lined sheet pan, and let cool at least 10 minutes.
per serving: 329 cal; 4g pro; 16g total fat (6g sat fat); 47g carb; 23mg chol; 87mg sod; 2g fiber; 40g sugars