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Friday, November 28, 2014

REAL MEN COOK XXVI: Popcorn Grits

There is a show on PBS put out by Anthony Bourdain in which he examines some of the world's top chefs, learning their influences, interests, inspirations, and what makes them cook.  Its a bit uneven with the best of the show in the first season, but it was fascinating viewing on Netflix.
One of the recipes that was on there I haven't made but would like to try some time (with margarine instead of butter).  Its a pretty simple recipe that although being fussy and time consuming is something anyone could try at home.  
And it has very few ingredients:
  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Butter or margarine; butter gives best results, I expect
  • Water
  • Salt
Hardware required:
  • Wire Strainer
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Another Strainer
Now, Chef Patterson cooked the popcorn very old fashioned style on the stove in oil, but I recommend my Home Microwave Popcorn recipe just for simplicity's sake.  You'll want at least one bag's worth, probably 2 would be ideal for a breakfast.  Pop it up and set the popcorn aside.
Warm up several cups of water and several spoonfuls of butter (if you want exact measurements, use 3 cups water and a quarter cup butter) in a saucepan.  You don't want boiling, just hot.
Toss some popcorn into the water; how much depends on your sauce pan but you want just enough that the popcorn will soften and become soggy.  Strain out the popcorn, saving the liquid.  Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and warm again, repeating this process until you've got all the popcorn a nasty soggy mass.  Stay with me.  When you've done all the popcorn leave the liquid in the bowl you strained it into and set it aside.
Now get a strainer out, not the wire mesh kind but a more sturdy one with bigger holes if you have it. toss a handful of soggy popcorn into the strainer and use a large spoon to mash it through the holes in the strainer.  once all you have left is hulls and seeds, discard that out and start with a new batch until you've mushed all of the popcorn through.
Now I'm reasonably sure you can store the remaining guck for a few days in the refrigerator in a closed container.  I find old margarine containers are good for storing leftovers etc.  But you want to eat now.
Toss the strained guck into your sauce pan with a cup of the water/butter liquid.  By now enough corn starch and flavor will be part of the liquid to add to the popcorn.  Cook this until you get a texture something like thick grits.  Because that's what you just made: grits.
But these grits taste like popcorn, so they are even better.  And usually grits takes like 8 hours to prepare from corn kernels, but this took a half hour or less.
Salt and eat.
Again I've not attempted this so I don't have any insider tips, but I watched the chef prep them while talking to another chef and it went pretty smoothly.  And it sounds delicious.  You make this for the family and they're going to think you're a culinary deity.
*This is part of the Real Men Cook series.

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