This fun snack — homemade popcorn tossed with garlic butter, Parmesan, oregano and red pepper flakes — is adapted from Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates by D.C. Chef and Top Chef All-Stars runner up Mike Isabella. It’s insanely addictive (yes, crazy good) and exemplifies Isabella’s self-described cooking style: one part old-world Italian, one part old-school Jersey, one part modern Mediterranean — all parts delicious. You have to try it!
Begin by popping the popcorn. Simply place the oil and popcorn kernels in large pot.
Cover tightly with a lid and heat over medium-high heat. Wait until the kernels start to pop, then shake the pan every now and again so they don’t burn. Once the popping slows to every 2-3 seconds, remove the pan from the heat.
Next, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute more.
Strain the garlic butter through a fine meshed strainer into a small bowl and set aside.
Make the spicy cheese mixture by combining the cheese, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes in a mini food processor.
Process until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Toss the popcorn with the butter and cheese mixture, then serve.
Note: I made several changes to the original recipe. Most notably, I reduced the red pepper flakes by more than half, and it is still spicy! (This might be a typo in the book.) I also reduced the oregano, and made the garlic butter in the microwave instead of on the stove.
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Crazy Good Spicy Italian Popcorn
- 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat the vegetable oil in a very large pan over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn, then cover with a tight fitting lid (alternatively, cover tightly with foil). Wait for the popcorn to start popping, then shake the pan gently every now and again to keep the kernels moving. When the popping slows to 2-3 seconds apart, remove the pan from the heat.
- Melt the butter in the microwave (be sure the bowl is big enough so that it won't bubble over). Add the garlic and microwave for 1 minute more. Pour the garlic butter through a fine meshed strainer into a small bowl; discard the garlic.
- In a mini food processor or spice grinder, grind the Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, oregano and salt until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Transfer the popcorn to a serving bowl. Pour the garlic butter over the popcorn and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture and toss again until the popcorn is evenly coated.