With the Super Bowl coming up, you can expect party menus to be overflowing with lots of chips and dips that will go straight to your hips if you aren’t careful. And, honestly, who can eat just one chip, right? So don’t even go there. Even popcorn can be dangerous, especially if popped in too much oil and drizzled with butter. I recently read a recipe that called for 6 tablespoons of butter (that’s 600 calories and all fat). I was appalled and thought this was the perfect mission for me: create healthier and flavorful popcorn without using butter.
The problem was that butter helps seasonings stick to the popcorn. I had to figure out how to get around that sneaky little flavor delivery mechanism. I also wanted to see if there was a difference in popcorn types, so I purchased an organic yellow popcorn and a gourmet white popcorn to see if there was really a difference. I was skeptical, but there actually is. The gourmet white is gorgeous with a beautiful fluffy shape.
Fifteen batches later, here are my three favorite savory and sweet popcorn recipes that are almost no fat and significantly lower in total calories than buttered popcorn.
ThePatricianPalette.com for more technique photos.
SWEET ‘N SPICY CHILI; SWEET ‘N TANGY MUSTARD; and WASABI DUSTED POPCORN
Each Makes over 4 cups
2-3 teaspoons grapeseed oil
¼ cup Amish Country Gourmet White Popcorn (Williams-Sonoma)
In a wide bottomed pan, add the oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the kernels and stir to coat with the oil. Cover. Heat the oil and the corn kernels over medium-high heat. It will take a few minutes before they begin to pop. Just as the kernels sound as though they are almost finished popping, turn off the heat. Transfer to a large bowl. While waiting on the popcorn, prepare the spiced syrups.
Choose a syrup combination, then, in a small sauce pot, combine the syrup and the spices. When the popcorn starts to pop, turn the heat to high and allow the syrup to fully boil for one minute. Remove from heat and drizzle over the freshly-popped corn. Toss with a rubber spatula to coat the popcorn. Avoid touching the sugar with your fingers till it has cooled.
3 Tablespoons Agave syrup
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
Sweet ‘n Tangy Mustard Syrup
3 Tablespoons Agave Syrup
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
Wasabi Dusted Popcorn
½ cup organic Wasabi peas (Whole Foods)
2 Tablespoons Agave Syrup
Grind the Wasabi peas to a fine powder, sifting out the biggest chunks. Set aside ¼ cup powder. Bring the agave syrup to a full boil for one minute. Drizzle the syrup over the popped corn. Sprinkle the Wasabi Dust over the popcorn and toss.