I’ve been on a popcorn binge lately.
It started with an unassuming lunch at the Waterfront Hotel in Fell’s Point, which is not actually a hotel but a restaurant. I love their “Build-Your-Own” burgers and was ready to blurt out my order when the waitress sidled up to the table and listed the specials for the day.
“It’s lunch so it’s 20% off the bill and we have a great butternut squash soup with a side of popcorn.”
It was about 2 degrees that day so a cup of warm, creamy soup was exactly what I needed. The popcorn dusted with their signature barbecue rub was almost an afterthought when the indulgent soup showed up, but the light kernels made for a great crouton. And the soup kept the idea of popcorn in my head long after my spoon scraped the bottom of the bowl. That night I tried to replicate the soup for dinner and bought some popcorn kernels from the bulk bin. The soup wasn’t a total fail but I’ll probably need a few more taste tests from Waterfront before it pops up here. The popcorn on the other hand, easier than I thought. Even though a recipe for popcorn is nothing more than heat, oil and popcorn kernels, I had never thought to make my own. Instead of a barbecue rub, I tossed the popcorn in butter and shredded parm and devoured the bowl for dinner.
The popcorn spree continued when I saw that basically every person on the internet was making Bon Appetit’s Buffalo Wing Popcorn. I’m not usually for “Buffalo” things but having successfully made popcorn once I decided to tackle this spicy caramel corn. You probably know where this is going, buttery popcorn is one thing but of course I burned a bunch of the caramel corn and didn’t add enough heat because I’m a wiiiiimmmpppp. It didn’t matter because the only popcorn that really matters is “Black Pop.”
You see, my sister and I speak in extensive shorthand. We have nicknames for everything and everyone. We probably have a nickname for you so don’t even ask. Shout out to Gloria and Xavier! But Black Pop is one of the more delicious nicknames. You know it better as Smartfood Popcorn, the white cheddar popcorn in the black bag. The only thing I love more in the snackfood aisle is “Blue Doritos,” Cool Ranch Doritos. I should probably have better nicknames than package coloring. I never buy Smartfood popcorn because I will demolish the bag in one sitting. Shoveling handfuls into my mouth unable to stop, even when I know I have almost killed the bag.
In theory, it should be easy to duplicate the bagged popcorn. Just add butter and cheese to popcorn. But when I went that route the butter sogged some kernels and didn’t reach others, and the cheese clumped and fell to the bottom of the bowl. To enrich the butter that is tossed with popcorn, I melted in some Boursin cheese. In addition to Smartfood popcorn and Blue Doritos, Boursin is basically crack to me. Crack you can slather on crusty bread, spread on a white pizza and turn into a buttery sauce for popcorn.
I don’t know any dish that isn’t improved by this magical cheese. I love you so much, Boursin. It’s mild and adds heft to the butter sauce and adds a cheesy flavor but doesn’t overpower the parmesan shower that I add. The melted butter and Boursin is folded into the hot popcorn and then spread across a parchment lined sheet pan. A flurry of parmesan tops the popcorn before the pan is slipped into a warm oven for a few minutes. The oven trip melts the cheese and keeps the butter sauce from making the popcorn soggy. Start to finish you’re looking at a half hour from kernel to parmesan popcorn but it is better than what will pop in the microwave in minutes. There is still a place in my heart for Smartfood but I will unapologetically devour this homemade parmesan popcron. I’ll share it with my sister while we’re talking about you, Gloria and Xavier.
- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ round of boursin cheese, 1.3 ounces
- salt to taste
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Heat a large pot(bigger than you think) over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and 3 popcorn kernels and cover with a glass lid. A see-through lid will make it easier to watch the popcorn cook.
- When the 3 kernels pop, add in the rest of kernels and shake the pot to evenly distribute the oil among the popcorn. Cover with the lid.
- The popcorn should take between 6-8 minutes for it all to pop. Knowing when it's done is just like microwave popcorn. It's done when the popping slows.
- While your popcorn is popping you can make your butter-cheese sauce.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter and Boursin over medium low heat, stirring to incorporate the two. This should only take 2 or 3 minutes.
- Once your popcorn is finished popping, slowing pour the melted butter and Boursin over the popcorn, stirring to coat each kernel with the cheesy butter.
- Spread the popcorn evenly on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle up to 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the oven off and let the popcorn cool for 5 minutes. If you pull the popcorn out immediately then the melted cheese will slip off the popcorn and settle at the bottom of your serving bowl. This quick rest lets the popcorn and cheese stick together better.
- Serve immediately or let cool completely before storing in a container.