Mark Bittman has a gift for reintroducing us to the simple things with a twist. Here he’s brought popcorn to gourmet status with a few shakes from the spice rack. Give one (or two) of these variations a try this week and with the optional microwave method, it’s easy as can be to make at the office. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Chopped fresh herbs
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Curry powder, or garam or chaat masala
- Old Bay seasoning
- Five-spice powder
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Cayenne or red chile flakes
- Brown sugar
- Finely ground nuts or shredded, unsweetened coconut
- Chopped dried fruit
- Garlic, see instructions below
- 2 to 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1⁄2 cup popping corn
- 2–4 tbsp. olive oil or nondairy butter, optional
- Salt (and other seasonings from the list that follows if you like)
- Put the vegetable oil in a large, deep pan (6 quarts or so). Turn the heat to medium, add 3 kernels of corn, and cover.
- When the kernels pop, remove the lid and add the remaining corn. Cover and shake the pot, holding the lid on. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping sound stops after about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the nondairy butter or gently warm the olive oil if you’re using it.
- Turn the popcorn into a large bowl; drizzle with nondairy butter or olive oil if you like, and sprinkle with salt while tossing the popcorn. Serve immediately.
- In a small glass container, or a brown paper lunch bag, combine 1⁄4 cup popping corn with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and fold the top of the bag over a couple of times. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until there are 4 or 5 seconds between pops. Open the bag or container carefully, because steam will have built up. Toss with your seasonings and a drizzle of butter or olive oil or serve as is.
- Use the optional nondairy butter or oil and as you melt or heat it, add a tablespoon minced garlic and cook until soft and turning golden. Strain the garlic bits out as you pour the butter over the popcorn.