I have an unhealthy relationship with popcorn. It all goes back to my childhood. We used to make popcorn on the stove and fill huge glass Pyrex bowls with it – one bowl per person. I remember sleeping at a friend’s house when I was in third grade. Her mom made popcorn. One bowl. For the whole family. I was deeply puzzled by this. We’re the family that goes back for the free refill on the large popcorn at the movie theater. We’ve also been known to bring a bag along so all of us can share the large.
I eat almost no processed snacks at this point, so popcorn is my go-to when I am craving something crunchy and salty. I usually sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on it. Lately though, here in Buffalo in the middle of waves of polar vortex weather, I’ve been dissatisfied with my bowl of popcorn. First of all, it gets cold really fast. Secondly, the cheese is not really sticking to the popcorn. One day I decided to stick the whole bowl in the oven to warm it up. Something magical happened. Actually several magical things happened:
1) the popcorn got really hot and stayed that way since the bowl was warmed also
2) the popcorn became super, amazingly crunchy and crispy in a way I’ve never experienced
3) the cheese melted and got crunchy and developed a deeper, richer flavor.
I was sold. My theory is that when you make popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave, the bag holds the heat in, but also holds in the moisture. When you heat the popcorn in the oven, it crisps it by removing that moisture. And you cannot beat having the cheese get crunchy and stuck to the kernels. I am trying really hard to not just eat this for lunch every day, and I am failing miserably.
This is now my go-to method for all popcorn, even just plain buttered.
Following you will find my recipe for crispy baked Parmesan popcorn, but first here are some other popcorn flavors that are favorites in my house and which are amped up by some time in the oven as well:
– brown butter with cinnamon and sugar
– hot chocolate mix (plain or the kind with mini marshmallows)
– shredded cheddar
– Parmesan with Italian seasoning
– taco cheese and sprinkling of dried taco seasoning
– bleu cheese and bacon
- ¾ cup popcorn kernels (I like white popcorn because I think it is more tender)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- ¼ and ⅛ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Place the popcorn in a paper bag and fold the end over twice, about ½ inch each time.
- Microwave on high for about 2 to 2½ minutes, until the popping slows down almost completely.
- Take the bag out and shake it. This sends any unpopped kernels to the bottom.
- Scoop the popcorn out into a big bowl, making sure to leave the kernels in the bottom of the bowl.
- Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the olive oil. Drizzle half over the popcorn.
- Add salt to taste then sprinkle half the cheese. Toss.
- Drizzle the rest of the butter, salt again and add the rest of the cheese. Toss.
- Spread it on a greased baking sheet and pop in the oven at 350 for about 3-5 minutes until it is hot. Stick your bowl in for a minute at the end to warm it. Serve.
I have an unhealthy relationship with popcorn. It all goes back to my childhood. We used to make popcorn on the stove and fill huge glass Pyrex bowls with it – one bowl per person. I remember sleeping at a friend’s house when I was in third grade. Her mom made popcorn. One bowl. For … Read more