I come from a popcorn family. I’m not talking about people who enjoy a nice bowl, I’m talking popcorn enthusiasts.
My parents raised us without a television so our evening entertainment consisted of public radio (The Great Gildersleeve, Fibber McGee and Molly) and books. Lots of books. Every night we huddled on the sofa with a stack for mom to read, which nine times out of ten included The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola.
The story is about two brothers who look up the history of popcorn while making some for a snack. They find out that it originated with the Native Americans, who cooked it in clay pots or by holding corn cobs directly over the fire (they even made popcorn soup). They believed that a little demon lived inside each kernel and as things heated up he became so angry that he popped! In the meantime, the boys put way too many kernels in the pot and flood the kitchen with popped corn, which, I always thought as a kid, would be a wonderful mistake.
By the end of the book, we’d have one thing on our minds, and that’s when my mom would ask, “Who wants popcorn?” It’s no mystery why this was in our “favorites” rotation.
Nowadays I’m still a popcorn fanatic. Movies and sporting events aren’t worth watching without it. As for toppings, butter and salt will always be a classic but I also enjoy a good sprinkling of nutritional yeast or mixed herbs. My newest obsession, however, is truffle oil.
During our Balkan adventure two summers ago, Tristan and I bought a bottle of local truffle oil at the farmers’ market in Rovinj, Croatia, and ever since we’ve been indulging in truffled popcorn. Melted butter, truffle oil, a little kosher salt – it doesn’t get much better than that.
And then the other day I picked up Donatella Arpaia’s new cookbook, Donatella Cooks, where she suggests a combination of fresh rosemary, truffle oil and pecorino cheese. I love this woman! So I whipped up a batch and brought it to the Seattle Sounders soccer game. Let’s just say that I don’t think I can go back to the stadium kettle corn again.
I barely needed an excuse to make popcorn as it was. Now I’m struggling to find an excuse not to.
Truffled Popcorn with Rosemary and Parmesan
Great for movie night or game day. I’m simply listing the ingredients here; exact amounts depend on how much popcorn you’d like to make. Keep in mind that the melted butter and truffle oil ratio should be 1 to 1. Adapted from Donatella Cooks.
High heat vegetable oil
Truffle oil (white or black)
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pour a thin film of oil over the bottom of a heavy bottomed pan. Add the popcorn kernels in one layer, cover tightly and set over medium-high heat. When the popping begins, take the pan by the handles and shake often to keep things moving and to prevent burning. When the popping slows, turn off the heat. Once popping is completed, carefully remove the lid and transfer the popped corn to a large bowl.
I like to do this part in stages. Drizzle some of the melted butter and truffle oil mixture (remember, they are in a 1:1 ratio) over the popcorn, then sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, rosemary and Parmesan. Toss a bit and repeat as many times as needed; be sure to taste as you go!