Chef Daniel Patterson thinks popcorn is a super-versatile ingredient. We’re not just talking about tossing seasoning on popped kernels—Patterson actually cooks with popcorn. This time, the author of The Art of Flavoris making a riff on grits. We all know how great grits are, especially with a fried egg and a handful of cheddar cheese, but popcorn grits are out of this world. Managing to taste like liquified buttered popcorn and creamy porridge all at once, the flavor is truly like nothing you’ve tasted before.
Pop a whole mess of popcorn on the stove, soak handfuls in water and butter, force the soggy kernels through a sieve, then repeat, scraping all the runoff into a bowl. Dress up popcorn grits with hot sauce, a fried egg, and even some extra popped popcorn; or go sweet and cover it with maple syrup and toasted nuts. This process may take a bit more work than just boiling grains in a pot like classic grits, but after the first bite (heck, even after just a sniff) of popcorn grits, you’ll know it was worth the wait.
Photo by COlter Longshore
500 grams vegetable or corn oil
1 kilogram popcorn kernels
100 grams butter
750 grams water
How to Make It
In a large pot, heat a generous amount of vegetable oil to smoking. Add a thin but complete layer of kernels, cover, and shake the pot a few times until you hear the corn starting to pop. Lower the heat to medium-high, shaking often so there are no hotspots. When the popping slows to a trickle, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand one minute. Uncover and pour the popcorn into a bowl, watching for any burnt pieces on the bottom, which should be discarded.
Bring a few cups of water, a few spoonfuls of butter and some salt to a simmer. Throw in a big handful of popcorn, simmer 30 seconds to a minute, until the corn is softened, and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer the liquid back to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Add more popcorn. Repeat until all the corn is gone. Add water as necessary, although there shouldn’t be too much extra.
Press the cooked corn through a medium strainer basket, discarding the hulls and seeds that cannot be pushed through. Transfer the passed corn, which will look like stiff grits, into a pot. Add the reserved cooking liquid, which should be slightly thickened from the corn starch, and taste like popcorn. Add butter and more water as necessary to make a grits-like texture – we find that slightly on the thicker side is better. Serve with a bowl of buttered popcorn on the side.