Sunday, January 20, 2008

January 20: Parmesan-Pepper Popcorn, Curry-Spiced Nuts

Every year for Christmas, inevitably, somebody gives you one of those giant tins full of stale, artificially-flavored popcorn. Hideous. It barely resembles popcorn, and yet, somehow, it ends up in a bowl at your Superbowl party, probably with the thought that somebody will eat it, and you can throw away the rest after the party.

I love popcorn. I try to watch my salt though, and I have a tendency to overdo it when it comes to popcorn, so I've started trying other flavors so that I don't wake up the next morning feeling so incredibly bloated. America's Test Kitchen has some suggestions, and my favorite is this parmesan-pepper. I don't bother with microwave popcorn, either--I can't even fathom what chemicals must be involved. I buy the regular old bag of popcorn kernels on the bottom shelf at the grocery store--they're about $1 a bag, much cheaper than anything else. I used to use my 8-quart stockpot, but we bought a microwave popcorn popper. It's just a bowl with a loose-fitting lid, but it's quicker than the big pot on the stove and it's easy to use. I think we bought it at Target, and if you like popcorn but are kind of afraid of those bags of microwave stuff, I recommend the bowl.

Same thing with the spiced nuts. Tons of salt, tons of chemicals, and even a really surprising amount of sugar. Even the recipe that I use has more sugar in it than I think it really needs, so I've cut it back from 2/3 cup to 1/4 cup. Adjust it as you like, but I like them a little less sweet.

1/2 cup of popcorn kernels will make about 4 quarts of popcorn.

Parmesan-Pepper Popcorn

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Salt to taste

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the melted butter and cook over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and let stand while the popcorn pops.

Combine the oil and popcorn in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Cover and place over medium-high heat, shaking occasionally, until the first few kernels begin to pop. Continue to cook, shaking vigorously, until the popping has mostly stopped. Pour immediately into a large bowl and toss with the flavored butter. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, toss again, and add salt to taste, if needed.

Curry Spiced Nuts

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound pecans, cashews, walnuts, or whole unblanched almonds
1/4 cup superfine sugar (if you can't find superfine sugar, run regular granulated sugar through a food processor for about 1 minute)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika

Heat oven to 275. Whisk the egg white, water, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Drain in a colander for 5 minutes.

Mix together the sugar, cumin, curry, and paprika together. Toss the spices with the drained nuts. Spread the nuts evenly on two baking sheets. Bake until the nuts are dry and crisp, about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and let the nuts cool completely on the baking sheet, about 30 minutes. Break the nuts apart and serve.

1 comment:

merseydotes said...

Basil is a real snacker, and he will love these. We got a random box of pecans addressed to someone who doesn't live in our house for the second year in a row, so Basil has been experimenting with spiced nuts. I will give him this nudge. The curry sounds great.