Popcorn for dinner is a thing in my house and always has been. There is something weirdly comforting about just saying the hell with making dinner, popping a huge pot of fresh corn, and sitting in front of the TV with a bowl the size of Oregon while you shove fistfuls of crunchy, salty pleasure in your maw. My husband and I eat popcorn for dinner at least once a week. Sometimes we have a small salad first, or a piece of leftover chicken, but sometimes just popcorn.
Every once in a while, one of us won’t completely finish our bowl. It always makes me a bit sad, tossing those popped kernels in the trash, but I’ve never been a big fan of leftover popcorn, it always gets a little packing-peanut texture for me. But I also hate to be wasteful, so the other night, after tapping out two-thirds of the way through my bowl, I decided to put the rest in a Ziploc bag, figuring maybe I’d have it as an afternoon snack the next day.
In the morning, I eyeballed the bag, and my brain started to spin. Chilaquiles, a favorite breakfast, is really just leftover tortilla chips scrambled into eggs. Matzo brei, a childhood favorite, is just crumbled up matzo crackers scrambled into eggs. So I wondered, what would happen if I did that same treatment with my leftover popcorn?
Delicious is what happened, people.
I whisked a couple of eggs, seasoned them with pepper but not salt, since the popcorn was already salted, and grated some butter into the eggs, which is my secret weapon for a fluffy tender scramble. I heated some butter in my skillet. When the butter was foaming, I tossed a couple cups of leftover popcorn into the eggs and gave it a quick mix to coat before dumping the whole thing into the skillet and scrambling per my usual habit.
The result was so surprising. The eggs were tender, but had some really interesting textural contrast and the corn flavor was more subtle than you get with chilaquiles, but pronounced enough to be pleasantly present. Where matzo brei is super bland, and needs syrup or powdered sugar to give it some life, the popcorn brought enough flavor to the party to not need anything except the pepper. A dash or two of hot sauce or a spoonful of salsa would not go amiss here, ditto harissa, a sprinkle of za’atar, or just about any topping you can imagine.
I would also be curious to see how a flavored popcorn would work, cheese popcorn being the obvious choice. Just be careful to not let any of those unpopped kernels into the mix—that is not the kind of crunch you want here.
So whether you have over-popped for your Olivia Pope dinner and have some leftover kernels, or want to toss a bag of corn in the microwave while your coffee brews, popcorn for breakfast is worth giving a try.
Photo by Stacey Ballis
2 cups popped popcorn
½ tablespoon cold butter, grated or microplaned
1 teaspoon butter for the pan
Salt and pepper to taste
How to Make It
Whisk the eggs with the grated butter. Heat the remaining butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter is foaming, mix the popcorn gently into the eggs to coat, but don’t let it soak too long or you’ll lose the textural contrast. Scramble to your desired doneness, and garnish however you'd like.