Alex and I started The Wire on hurricane weekend (that’s August 27-28 for those of you not on the East Coast). We were glued to the TV for at least an hour a night, sometimes more, til December. We watched the last episode not long before Christmas. I was heartbroken (spoiler alert!) at the unresolved trouble that had befallen 98% of The Wire‘s characters. But I am not unhappy to be unglued.
Full disclosure. I’m not a TV person, not even necessarily for the Oscars or the Super Bowl. I grew up under an iron rule: no more than one hour of TV a week. Alex and I have a television but no cable. All our watching is done via Netflix or Alex’s collection of DVDs.
My curtailed TV education means I’ve never fully learned how to “half watch,” to have the TV as background noise while I’m hanging around the apartment. I’m either in or I’m out. For The Wire, I was in the game. For Mad Men I’m totally in. For Modern Family, I’m mostly in–the rest of me is folding laundry. For the Academy Awards it’s down to about eighth of my attention. The rest goes to friends I’m watching with, and to inhaling this popcorn.
Look, home-popped popcorn is great with a bit of salt. But even movie popcorn, buttery and delicious as it is, doesn’t command your attention–the whole point is to mindlessly eat it while immersed in a flick! To make popcorn special enough for an Oscar party, I’ve doused freshly popped corn with a mixture of almost-browned butter, lemon, Provence-inspired dried herbs, and thinly sliced almonds. Easy. Satisfying. And I can think of about a million other combinations that would also make this popcorn deserving of your full attention.
What are you making for the Oscars?
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Herb & Lemon Buttered Popcorn
Makes 1 big bowl
You could add 2-3 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese to the butter mixture if you want to make the popcorn richer!
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cups popcorn kernels
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sliced almonds
Place a large, heavy pan with a lid on medium heat. Add the olive oil and 3 kernels. When they pop, add the rest of the kernels. Shake the pan to distribute, then cover it. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until you stop hearing kernels pop more than once every five seconds or so. Turn off the heat and leave the cover on for another 2-3 minutes, until all of the kernels have popped. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl.
While the kernels are popping, preheat the oven to 300°F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Keep cooking it, stirring occasionally, until it is very slightly golden. Pour into a bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, the pepper, salt, and spices. Mix well, then drizzle this over the popcorn in the bowl. Add the almonds and use your hands to mix the popcorn well, trying to get the butter mixture spread around as best as possible. Taste for salt, adding more as needed.
Pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the popcorn has dried out slightly and the almonds are toasted, about 6-8 minutes.
Serve warm or room temperature. If you make the popcorn in advance, cool it completely before storing it in an airtight container.