Kristina Kern of Stella's PopKern, a popcorn catering business and food truck in Washington, recommends using a mix of kernels -- varying in texture, size, density and sweetness -- for this recipe. Look for colored kernels (red, black, white) as well as mushroom and snowflake kernels. The variable mix accounts for the wider-than-usual range of yield.
Feel free to add flavorings you like, such as freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, smoked paprika or finely chopped fresh herbs.
Make Ahead: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. For re-crisping, see NOTE below.
Servings: 5 - 8
Yield: Makes 10 to 16 cups
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (may substitute store-bought ghee)
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup canola oil, white coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil or grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup mixed popcorn kernels (see headnote)
- Fine sea salt, for sprinkling
Melt the butter, without stirring, in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim off and discard any white solids on the surface. Slowly pour the yellow melted butter into a heatproof bowl, stopping once you reach any remaining white solids that have sunk to the bottom.
Wipe out the saucepan thoroughly, then pour the melted butter through a fine-mesh strainer back into the saucepan, discarding any solids.
Stir half of the garlic into the butter, then place over medium-low heat; cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Cover loosely to keep warm.
Combine the remaining garlic and the oil in your popcorn popper or in a deep pot placed over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels; begin stirring or shaking the pot right away to make sure each kernel is coated and to keep the garlic from burning. Cover, and cook until the popping sounds slow down, with long pauses in between.
Immediately transfer the popcorn to a large serving bowl. Drizzle the garlicky ghee over the top, then immediately sprinkle with salt to taste.
NOTE: To re-crisp this popcorn, spread it on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees; once the temperature is reached, turn off the oven. Let the popcorn remain in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes (but no longer), depending on the desired level of crispness.
From Kristina Kern of Stella's PopKern (www.stellaspopkern.com) in Washington.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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