THIS POPCORN WILL BE YOUR NEW FAVORITE SNACK
I’ve always liked popcorn, but it was never a top-tier snack. That’s because I was doing it all wrong! Read ahead and learn how to make quick, easy and addictive buttered (or vegan!) popcorn at home.
THE POPCORN LEVEL UP
My snack game changed after watching my friend, Rachel make stove top popcorn at her apartment in our early post-college days. Though I was aware it could be done, I never really saw the point. After tasting that stove top popcorn, I realized that with just a little bit more effort, you could make something so much better for a fraction of the price. Learning how to make my own popcorn where I could control the oil, salt and seasoning brought my relationship with popcorn from a like to a love. We’ve been through a lot together. It was one of the few hot snacks I could count on even when I was losing weight with Weight Watchers. Today, it’s one of my favorite foods and I think if you give it a fair shake, it could be one of yours too!
I don’t know exactly what lies ahead in this here blog journey, but what I can guarantee is that there will be more popcorn recipes to come. I’ve got BBQ, chili kettlecorn, shichimi togarashi on deck! Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
THE BEST BUTTERED POPCORN HACK
I’m starting off with this super simple savory and addictive version. I originally wrote up recipe I’ve been using to make popcorn at least once a week. It’s great and takes about 10 minutes, but I was concerned that it was step too many for those who have yet to be sold on the virtues of turning on the stove for a snack.
Last night, I had a popcorn epiphany. Instead of of popping in oil and topping with melted butter, why not pop the corn in ghee?? Ghee is clarified butter that is very common in Indian cooking and has become more accessible in US stores with the popularity of Whole 30 and paleo diets. It has a higher melting point than butter so it can hold up to the higher temperature needed for popping. I got mine from Trader Joe’s. No fear, vegans, I’ve got you covered. You can swap in coconut oil for ghee and it’s just as delicious.
THE SECRET IS IN SPRINKLE
The surprise savory star here is… nutritional yeast! Ok, if that sounds weird, trust me, you’ve likely eaten it before, so don’t be afraid. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast related to the Brewer’s yeast used in brewing beer. It is a flavor enhancer found in everything from chips to soups and is popular in vegan and vegetarian cooking because of if it’s savory umami flavor. It tastes cheesy… literally. And yes, it is actually nutritious. One tablespoon provides over 100% of the recommended daily value of B1, B2 and B6 vitamins, along with niacin and protein. The exact values may vary between brands, but the bottom line is that it’s a tasty and healthy flavor enhancer. Learn more about nutritional yeast and where to get it here. Ok, let’s get poppin (too easy).
Irresistible Savory Popcorn
This recipe makes pretty large bowl of popcorn with very few un-popped kernels every time. Once you get the hang of it, you can scale up or down; just make sure that the oil coats the bottom of the pot and the kernels are in a single layer.
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 heaping tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon of fine salt
- large pot with lid (3qt or bigger)
- large Spoon
- small bowl to mix seasonings
- pot holders or oven mitts (optional if the handle(s) on your pot get hot)
- Add the 2 Tbsp of ghee or coconut oil to a pan set to medium heat and let it melt completely.
- Scatter in 3 popcorn kernels in the pot.
- While you’re waiting for the three kernels to pop, mix together the 1 tsp salt and 1 TBSP nutritional yeast in a small bowl. Use your fingers to crumble up any large yeast flakes into powder. I use a lil mortar and pestle because I have one and it’s fun, but fingers work just fine.
- Once the three kernels have popped, add the remaining 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and shake the pot if needed to spread the kernels in an even layer.
- Cover the pot and remove it from heat for 30 seconds. This steps is the key to few un-popped kernels at the end.
- Return the pot to the heat and crack the lid. Once the popcorn starts popping, put hand on the cracked lid and with the other grab a handle and start shaking the pot back and forth over the heat. You can use oven mitts or gloves to hold the handles.The cracked lid lets out the steam so the popped kernels don’t get soggy. Shaking moves the un-popped kernels to the bottom and keeps the popped ones from burning.
- Once the popping slows to a few seconds between pops, turn off the heat and immediately remove the pot from the burner. Set the lid aside.
- Sprinkle the yeasty salt over the popcorn and stir to distribute it throughout the popcorn and taste it. Add more salt if you like.
Buying Nutritional Yeast
I use Red Star Nutritional Yeast I found at Whole Foods. You can also find it in the Whole Foods bulk bins if you want to start small. Bragg is another popular brand although I haven’t tried it yet. I make a lot of popcorn and probably go through one 5oz can a year.
Other Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast
I keep extra yeast salt on had and use it as a seasoning when cooking vegetables, seafood and meat. I’ll mix that with lemon zest and add it to shrimp before sauteing them for a deeper savory flavor. Try it on green beans and mushrooms, sweet potatoes and in black beans. It’s also a great substitute for Parmesan cheese in salad dressing or sauce.