Brown Butter Popcorn
I swing by the farmer's market at least once a week to see what's going on. I usually walk away with a bag of medjool dates, which are between burnt caramel and sticky pudding, and whatever else strikes my seasonal fancy. This week, it was dried corn on the cob. I always ignore these little guys, as they appear to have little to no utility. They scream "Fall Display" at a gourmet market, or as part of a centerpiece at Thanksgiving. But, I saw a sign hand written below them: "Put in a paper bag and microwave for popcorn." Popcorn on the cob? Oh hell yes. But what to put on it? Plain butter and salt is the perfect partner, so how do I improve on it?After some contemplation I came to my conclusion: you can't. In terms of savory applications, everything I could think of (bacon maple kettle corn? truffle oil and smoked sea salt? rosemary and olive oil?) intrigued me, but seemed to miss the point. Popcorn is the point. It's slightly sweet and toasted, and best not extravagantly adorned. So, I slightly tweaked the classic with a little brown butter. Enjoy!
Brown Butter Popcorn
Dried Corn (on cobs or loose)
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt (something flaked for texture)
If using the dried corn cobs, stick several cobs in a paper lunch bag, and fold over the edge at least 3 times. Stick in the microwave and nuke for 1 minute and 20 seconds. That's what worked for my popcorn, but every microwave is different, so perhaps try one cob at that time and see what results you get. You will not get every kernal, so don't over cook it and end up with burnt popcorn. If using loose kernals, pop in an air popper or in a lightly oiled covered pot on the stove at medium-high heat. Place the popcorn into a large bowl (you want a little room for coating).
Now for the brown butter. My ratio of butter to popcorn is about 2 tablespoons butter to 3-4 cups plain popcorn. You can do whatever you like. Pop the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until foamy with the milk solids browned. My trick is once the butter starts foaming, I lift the sauce pan away from the heat and swill it around. This deflates the foam and lets me get a good look at the milk solids. You want a nutty, warm brown, like the color of waffles. Pour the butter over the popcorn, and then sprinkle with salt. Toss the popcorn to coat. Then put the sauce pan into the bowl, pushing the popcorn in to coat with residual butter. Taste and adjust. Enjoy!