I love popcorn. Not the packaged pre-popped flavoured type, nor the bags you pop in the microwave, but good old-fashioned kernels popped on the stove. It is one of my favourite pantry staples – economical, healthy, versatile and my first snack of choice when confronted with hungry children.
We buy popcorn in 5kg bags, which usually lasts us a year. At around $20 for a 5kg bag it works out at around only 50c for a large bowl of popcorn.
Served plain, it makes for a healthy snack. It’s a wholegrain, high in fibre and antioxidants and it’s one of these wonderful foods that counts as a vegetable as well as a wholegrain (perfect for kids who don’t like vegetables).
Popcorn is easy to pop on the stovetop. Half a cup of popcorn will make a large bowl. I melt around 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, butter or ghee in a large heavy based saucepan. Heat on high until hot, add popcorn and shake briefly to ensure all the kernels are covered in oil. Place on a lid and wait until there is less than 2 seconds between the popcorn pops. I used to shake the pot while popping, but I've since learnt that it pops perfectly if you leave it alone.
What I love most about popcorn is that you can dress it up in so many different ways.
Here are a few of my favourite fancy popcorn recipes.
Start with ½ cup of popcorn and pop as described above and reduce the added salt if you use salted butter to pop your popcorn.
Sweet and salty rosemary popcorn: Add 1 tablespoon of butter to warm popcorn and stir to coat. Combine 1 sprig of finely chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Sprinkle over popcorn.
Sweet and spicy popcorn: Melt 20-30 grams of butter, add 1 teaspoon of each of ground cinnamon, ground cumin, paprika, salt, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat.
Dijon buttered popcorn: Melt around 20-30 grams of butter. Let it sizzle, get foamy & turn a bit brown. Whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of dijon mustard. Add a small handful of chopped chives. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat.
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 31st August 2013.
What is your favourite way to enjoy popcorn?