I’m always on the lookout for interesting savory snacks and this is one of the best ones I’ve come across in a long, long while. You’ve got the tangy-savory flavors of lime and garlic infused olive oil that you use for both popping and seasoning the popcorn, then you top things off with a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese (such as queso anejo) and a generous amount of finely chopped cilantro for a bit of brightness. I would also suggest adding a little chile flake (Japanese togarashi would be nice) to the mix if you’re a fan of heat. When is the last time you popped popcorn the old fashioned way in a big pot (with a well fitting lid of course) over the stove? This recipe reminded me of how much fun it is. While exploding popcorn kernels in hot oil is definitely a job best left to adults, kids will love to be close at hand to hear and see the dramatic transformation of a handful of hard kernels into into a giant mound of fluffy popcorn.
While I love popcorn in any form, the real star of this snack is the amazing garlic-lime mojo which you make by peeling and smashing copious garlic cloves and then slow roasting them in a bath of good quality olive oil. You mush the softened garlic into the oil with a fork forming a chunky paste and then finish things off with a generous splash of fresh lime juice and some salt to balance things out. It’s a pretty amazing condiment all on it’s own, well worth making and keeping on hand for general drizzling. And I can’t wait to try using this delicious mojo in my cooking projects too: basting chicken with it, sautéing pinto beans in it, using it as a base for salad dressing or garlic bread or to add an extra punch of flavor for guacamole or veggies. This is definitely one of those magic pantry ingredients that are worth the investment of time to make. A little splash or drizzle will elevate something basic into something special — this popcorn being a great example.
Here’s where you can find the recipes on Rick Bayless’ site: