Smoked Paprika Popcorn

I am a fiend for stovetop popcorn. That was how my mom made popcorn every Friday, popped in a heavy pot, poured into a big mixing bowl and covered with lots of melted margarine and salt, to be eaten with greasy hands while watching Full House and Just the Ten of Us. It was perfection.

I rebooted the stovetop popcorn tradition several years ago, after one too many bags of disgustingly salty microwave popcorn and its lingering stink in the office microwave. Stovetop popcorn is so easy and so good and it won’t give you popcorn lung. Win-win.

When it comes to flavoring popcorn, I have two opinions: 1) you need it and 2) the sky’s the limit. I usually go for a simple combo of finely grated Parmesan and black pepper, or just really good olive oil and sea salt, but for a special film screening with friends on Saturday night, I decided to mix it up with smoked paprika, onion powder and a little walnut oil.

This combination, it turns out, tastes a little like BBQ potato chips.

In other words, it’s a keeper.

Smoked Paprika Popcorn

Yield: 4 servings

{ Ingredients }

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 teaspoons walnut oil or olive oil

{ Directions }

Mix the smoked paprika, salt and onion in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium pot, heat the oil and popcorn, covered, over medium heat. As the popcorn pops, shake pan occasionally and immediately remove from heat once the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing any unpopped or partially popped kernels you see. Drizzle with walnut or olive oil and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Scatter smoked paprika mixture over popcorn and mix with your hands until kernels are evenly coated.

Keeps for up to 2 days in an airtight container.

• I use two types of oil because I like the subtle flavor the walnut (or olive) oil adds to the mixture, but feel free to use grapeseed or canola for both cooking and coating the popcorn.

• Instead of cooking the popcorn on the stove, you can start with unflavored, unsalted air-popped or microwave popcorn. I won't be mad.