Burned Butter Maple Popcorn; Salt and Vinegar Popcorn. They both looked exactly the same so I sprinkled the maple one with rainbow sugar. Which immediately fell into all the cracks and crevices in the popcorn. So in case you can’t tell, it’s the top bowl.
I’ve been eating so much popcorn, partly because it’s deeply inexpensive which suits us right now (moving costs, unemployment, bills, and a persistent post-holiday overdrawn credit card) but also because I had forgotten how really truly delicious and easy to make it is. I’ve been fixing up bowls of it all the time, for a pre-dinner snack, for a post-pre-dinner snack, to go with drinks…it might seem a little unconvincing and unsophisticated to serve to your fancy friends, but it really works.
It’s just so crunchy and porously butter-absorbant and flavour-permeable and a tiny quantity of popping corn makes so much fluffy white popcorn and – did I mention – I know I did, no need to be coy – it’s so cheap. Also it’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly if you use oil, and oddly thrilling as you wait for the mysterious dried corn to burst open.
We don’t have a microwave, so I make it on the stovetop, and it’s all very straightforward. I suppose you don’t have to use any fat in it, but it tastes quite bland without it – but it’s all up to your tastebuds. I like to heat up the popping corn kernels with the butter or oil in a lidded pan over a medium heat, wait for it to start popping after a minute or two, and that’s it really. All you need is a large saucepan with a lid, and for that lid to stay on until you’re quite sure the corn is done popping. Otherwise it will shoot out and land in your hair. It just will.
Burned Butter and Maple Popcorn
You don’t have to use maple syrup if you can’t get hold of it, it’s so expensive that I’m always too nervous to actually use it in anything, and honey or golden syrup would be a worthy substitute. I do think the flavour of this benefits from being popped in butter and then having extra butter added, it’s not the slightest bit gratuitous. Don’t worry in the slightest about the state of the butter in the pan either, the more it burns in the hot pan the more wondrous it will taste – all smoky and nutty and incredible.
30g butter plus another 20g extra
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/3 cup popping corn
Place the 30g butter and popping corn in a large pan, cover with a lid, and place over a medium heat. After a few minutes the corn will start to pop, excitingly – hold onto the lid and give it a shake every now and then to ensure that the popped corn itself won’t burn. Place one teaspoon and a grind of salt in the base of a large serving bowl, then tip most of the popcorn in and stir it around. Sprinkle over the remaining teaspoon of maple syrup, tip in the remaining popcorn and continue to stir. Do what you like to mix it all together really, this just seems to ensure maximum maple-coverage. Melt the remaining butter in the still-hot pan and then tip it over the popcorn evenly, giving one last stir. Rainbow sugar…optional.
Salt and Vinegar Popcorn
Olive oil’s rich, green flavour is perfect with popcorn, and the sharp vinegar and bursts of salt makes you want to pretty much shovel this into your mouth with a cupped hand till there’s none left.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup popping corn
As above, heat the corn kernels in the tablespoon of oil in a lidded pan, allow them to pop, shaking it occasionally, and pour most of the popped corn into a bowl in which one teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a grind of salt has been placed. Stir around, drizzle over some olive oil, stir some more, add the rest of the popcorn, sprinkle over the remaining balsamic vinegar, some more oil, and another grind of salt. Stir as best you can without flinging the weightless grains everywhere.
One other good thing about moving is that our living space will be big enough for me to try and learn magical Donna McKechnie’s dance from Turkey Lurkey Time. This is how I know it’s Christmas: I’m watching this incredible number from the 1968 Tony Awards. It’s ridiculous and it’s dated and it’s…yeah, really ridiculous, but damn if it doesn’t make my heart race every time it gets to the end.