Friday, August 6

Coconut red pepper popcorn

Popcorn is a great, carbohydrate-rich snack (or meal) that is relatively easy to make at home.  You could toss a bag of PopSecret in the microwave, but you probably shouldn't because it's pretty bad for you, what with all the potentially toxic stuff they put into it.   Instead, you should go old school - even older than Jiffy Pop - I'm talking cooking it on the stove-top in a pan!  There's no need to buy any equipment and you probably already have everything you need.

I made some a while back and I cooked it with the popcorn oil we had in the cabinet; it was so disgusting, I had to throw it out.  I don't know if it went rancid or if it was because it was fake and oily tasting.  (I should add that I recently checked the ingredients of that nasty popcorn oil and - surprise, surprise - it was soybean oil.)  I promptly made a batch with butter which was sooooo delicious and yummy - mmmm, browned butter.  Unfortunately, it didn't love me back (cursed lactose intolerance).  I happened upon an article or blog post or something that discussed how movie theaters cook their popcorn in coconut oil.  I always have some around the house - makes a great moisturizer - so I tried a batch with the coconut oil; it was shockingly good!  

I'm not sure what exactly possessed me to try cooking the popcorn with red pepper flakes, but I am sure glad I did!  They give a good amount of heat, but they don't change the flavor.  Even Tara, who doesn't like hot or spicy foods, thinks it's good.  I've tried a kettle corn version with the red pepper flakes; it was unusual in a good way!

Coconut red pepper popcorn

This makes about 3 cups, which is what I consider to be a personal meal-size serving. You could scale up or down as needed.  Also, you can use any type of oil, but I prefer either coconut oil or butter.  You can sprinkle any number of seasonings on your popcorn to flavor it how you like, just wait until after cooking the popcorn.  I cook the red pepper flakes to release the oils.

  • 1/4 popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 Tb coconut oil or butter
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste

Place the oil in a decent-sized sauce pot (mine was 3 qt) and heat over medium.  Sprinkle the red pepper flakes in the oil and swirl around, making sure all the flakes are coated in oil.  Let cook a few minutes to release the oils from the flakes.  Pour the kernels into the pan, swirling around to make sure all the kernels are coated.  Put the lid on the pot leaving it slightly ajar.  You can shake the pot occasionally to move the kernels around.  (Be careful when putting your head directly above the pot; the red pepper oil is strong.)  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the popping slows significantly - when there is about 30 seconds between pops.  Don't worry about popping all the kernels because it's better to have a few unpopped kernels than burned popcorn.

Pour into a bowl and liberally salt (sprinkle, toss, sprinkle, toss) while still hot. 

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