Red Carpet Popcorn

Fancy toppings make simple snack a star

I’ve never been a big popcorn person, but I remember when I was in, like, fourth or fifth grade, I was over at my best friend’s house and she sprinkled Parmesan cheese over popcorn and it kind of changed my life. So awesome.

Granted, most things are improved with the addition of Parmesan cheese, but I had just never thought of popcorn as anything more than the bag you toss in the microwave that has a weird faux-butter flavor. Or the popcorn from the movies that comes in size tiny and size Costco.

Over the years I forgot about popcorn, mostly because I don’t frequent movie theaters, and haven’t owned a microwave since 2010. I knew popcorn could be made other ways than just the microwave bag stuff but, not being a popcorn aficionado, it didn’t really enter my mind. Recently, I’ve seen some fancy popcorn dishes pop up at various local eateries, and it sparked my interest in popcorn anew. If making popcorn drool-worthy was just as simple as making an easy topping, I was in.

So, before we get to the fancy part, here’s how to pop popcorn if you don’t have a microwave, or want to pop it the old-fashioned (better) way!

SSM-fancy-popcorn-3Old-Fashioned Popcorn

  • 3 tablespoons butter (you can also use peanut, grape seed, or canola oil)
  • ⅓ cup popcorn kernels

Heat butter or oil in a large 3-quart saucepan on medium-high heat. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the butter and cover the pan. When they pop, add the rest of the ⅓ cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover the pot and remove from heat for 30 seconds.

Return the pan to the heat and the popcorn should begin popping. Once the popping is consistent, gently shake the pan, moving it back and forth over the burner.

Keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release, which will make your popcorn drier and crisper. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat and dump the popcorn immediately into a large bowl or paper bag. Makes 2 quarts of popcorn.

Dress it Fancy

Here are three different savory popcorn toppings that will take your popcorn to the next level! Fancy popcorn makes for an awesome appetizer, and it’s quick and super easy to whip up.

Bacon + Parmesan

  • 2 quarts of popped popcorn
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Smoked salt

Cook bacon until crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel- lined plate to drain, then crumble or slice into small pieces and add to popcorn.

Melt the butter and pour over popcorn, then sprinkle with smoked salt to taste. Mix to combine. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese, and toss to coat.

Garlic, Thyme and Parmesan

  • 2 quarts of popped popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Smoked salt

In a saucepan, melt butter and add the minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves.

Drizzle the garlic and thyme butter over the popcorn and mix well. Next, add the Parmesan cheese and mix again. Add salt to taste and sprinkle the remaining thyme leaves over the popcorn.

Lime Cotija Jalapeño

  • 2 quarts of popped popcorn
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • ½ small jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, lime juice, and zest. Add the minced jalapeño. In a small bowl combine the black pepper, salt, red pepper, and cumin. If you want less spiciness, omit the jalapeño and red pepper flakes, or just reduce the amount you use.

Drizzle half of the butter/lime/jalapeño mixture over the popcorn, and mix until the popcorn is coated and moist. Taste. Add more of the butter mixture to taste, and mix it up again.

Take the small bowl of seasonings and sprinkle most of the mixture over the popcorn, shake, and mix to coat the popcorn. Taste, and if you’d like more flavor, add the rest of it. Sprinkle the crumbled Cotija over the popcorn.

is a South Sound contributor and a blogger, writer, photographer, designer, and author at Delightfully Tacky.
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