Remember my popcorn discovery? Well. I'm branching out. This week on the Local Food Report, I interviewed Ron Backer of Surrey Farms in Brewster about a ground chili powder he's making. A few years ago he started seeing references to a spice called Piment d'Espelette on epicurious.com and the Food Channel. He did some research, discovered that it's a French thing, and imported the seeds. Then he grew the peppers, dried them, and started making the stuff himself. He gave me a tin to sample, and it turns out it's killer on popcorn.
If you like Spanish Marcona almonds and popcorn and butter and you're willing to try it all with a little kick, this makes a sublime afternoon snack. So warm up that pot. Infuse your butter. Get those kernels popping, and let me know what you think when you're done.
SPICY SPANISH POPCORN
This recipe comes from epicurious.com, which is where Ron first learned about Piment d'Espelette. Ron sells his spice at the Orleans and Wellfleet farmers' markets. You can substitute Hungarian hot paprika if you can't get your hands on a tin.
1 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette, divided
1 teaspoon fine grain salt, divided
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup peanut oil
3/4 cup whole roasted Spanish Marcona almonds
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the Piment d'Espelette and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat, then stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Put the popcorn kernels and peanut oil in a large, deep pot with a heavy lid. Turn the heat onto medium-high, shimmying the pot occasionally so that the kernels are coated with oil. Cover the pot. When the kernels start popping, shimmy the pot every thirty seconds or so until the noise stops. Turn off the heat and immediately add the melted butter mixture and almonds to the pot. Using oven mitts, hold the pot and the lid firmly together and shake until the popcorn and almonds are coated evenly with the melted butter mixture. Put the popcorn in a serving bowl, toss with the remaining Piment d'Espelette and salt, and serve.