Monday, July 27, 2009

Parmesan-Sage Popcorn

Once upon a time, kids didn't eat chicken nuggets, popcorn was popped on a stove, and families watched television together. During this fabled time, my family settled down on Saturday evenings to watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island. While watching these kitschy shows, I'd munch on popcorn and wash it down with my only soda of the week.

Times have changed. Popcorn is prepared in a microwave, and while it's nice to throw a bag in the microwave, check my email, and return to a perfectly popped bowl of popcorn, I believe something is lost in the process. Microwaving popcorn is a detached experience and doesn't fully engage the senses like popping corn on the stove. There's something joyful about the first ping of kernels ricocheting off metal, a musical freeform Buddy Rich-like solo. Then as the popped kernels fill the dutch oven, the musical notes deepen to a chorus. There's just something romantic about the whole damn experience, and I miss it.

You could call me overly sentimental, but I'd like to see America return to popping popcorn on the stove. To spearhead this movement, I offer up this recipe for Parmesan-Sage Popcorn:

Parmesan-Sage Popcorn

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Place a large, lidded dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add oil and popcorn kernels.
  2. Cover the saucepan,t hen begin gently shaking the pan over the heat.
  3. Listen for the joyful pinging of the kernels, after 4-5 minutes, and continue shaking the pan until the popping slows. I find it helps to sing and shake my body to facilitate the shaking of the pan.
  4. Remove the lid and pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
  5. Wipe out the dutch oven, turn the heat to low, and add the butter.
  6. Melt the butter, and then add the sage. continue cooking for an additional 30-60 seconds, until the sage crisps. Add the butter and sage mixture to the popcorn, along with the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Toss well to evenly distribute.
  7. Settle down with the family in time to hear Tattoo shout, "Ze plane! Ze plane!"

My mother would sometimes make popcorn with bacon grease? What are your favorite popcorn memories?

while we're at it, let's get rid of baby carrots and return to old-fashioned carrot sticks,


PictureGirl said...

I only eat popcorn popped on top of the stove, every night!

I have never tried seasoned popcorn but I'll have to give your's a try.

Jenni said...

Bacon grease? Bacon grease! That actually sounds pretty darned good. Doesn't bacon make everything better? Why not popcorn?

I don't remember ever using a Dutch oven to cook popcorn on the stove. Once or twice we used one of those old fashioned stove top popcorn poppers with the hand crank. More often we used Jiffy Pop in the aluminum pan.

I need to buy an electric popcorn popper (NOT an air popper, ugh) because I just know I would burn the popcorn on the stovetop. Microwave popcorn is convenient, but it just isn't the same. My favorite way to eat popcorn is drenched in lotsa buttah. Jelly Belly buttered popcorn jelly beans are one of my all time favorite candies.

Marianne said...

That looks great. What kind of dutch oven do you use to shake? Nice photo today!

muddywaters said...

PictureGirl: Keep popping on the stove. I like just plain ol' popcorn. However, I've been experimenting with different combinations.

Jenni: I remember Rechelle over at My Sister's Farmhouse used bacon grease in some homemade bread.

I use an old aluminum dutch oven for my popcorn. There's no need to buy any special equipment.

Marianne: I use an old aluminum dutch oven. Thanks for the photo compliment. I might photograph all of my food in the natural light.

haleysuzanne said...

Stovetop popcorn is the way to go! I recently told my husband I want to send our microwave to the Goodwill, because ever since we quit microwave popcorn, it's unused.

I love your TV and popcorn memories. I was only allowed one soda weekly, also, when I was growing up. I always looked forward to my Friday Mountain Dew after school.

Hear, hear on the carrot sticks!

Kate said...

I attempted a similar movement last winter! However after a chocolate-caramel corn disaster, I put the can of kernels in the back of the cupboard. Maybe I'll scrounge around back there and give it another go.

Nella said...

How were you able to stop at popcorn, pop, and carrot sticks????? If I got started on what we SHOULD be doing in the food department, I'd never run out of blog material for the rest of my life.

Thanks for the gentle reminder of the good things we should be doing. N

The Single Gal said...

I love this - I actually hunted down a hot air popper many years ago (it was hard to find!) but I may retire it and go stove-top from now on...

And baby carrots aren't even "babies" - they're just regular carrots that have been whittled down. Give me a full-size carrot and a peeler any day.

best, TSG

12th Man Training Table said...

Made a pasta salad the other day that included tomatoes fried in bacon grease.

45% of the fat in bacon in monounsaturated, the good stuff in olive oil that helps lower bad cholesterol. Then again, 100% of the fat in bacon is fat.

When I was in college, we couldn't have any sort of electrical appliance in our dorm room, but someone always managed to pull out an air popper on movie nights.