Maren Caruso
Popcorn Grits, adapted from Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson.
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Popcorn Grits

Coi: Stories and Recipes, Daniel Patterson - December 16th, 2013

This recipe has been adapted from Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson―a book featured in Words-to-Table Cooking, Food Arts' yearly roundup of chef-authored cookbooks.

“It’s amazing to me how many well-traveled, well-trained cooks have no idea how to pop popcorn. Give them a bag of gellan and they’ll spew out ratios. Give them a bag of popcorn and they’ll look confused.

“So here’s what I’ve learned: start with good popcorn. Get an heirloom variety if you can. They taste better, even if sometimes they don’t pop as uniformly. Red, purple, black, yellow, it doesn’t matter, although I’m partial to yellow for this dish. Also popcorn doesn’t fry open, it steams, so there has to be enough moisture in the popcorn to work. No stale corn.”

Serves 4

  • 500ml vegetable or corn oil
  • 1L popcorn
  • 750ml water
  • 100g unsaltedbutter
  • salt
  • buttered popcorn (for garnish)

In large pot, heat oil to smoking; add thin but solid layer of kernels; cover; shake the pot a few times until corn starts to pop; lower heat to medium-high, shaking often and listening; when popping starts to trickle, remove pot from heat; rest one minute; pour into bowl, discarding any burnt pieces.

Bring water, butter, and salt to a simmer; add big handful of popped kernels; simmer 30 seconds to a minute, until corn softens; strain through a fine mesh sieve; transfer strained liquid back to the pot; bring liquid to simmer; add more popcorn; repeat until all the corn is gone, adding water as necessary; reserve remaining liquid.

Press softened kernels through medium strainer, discarding hulls and seeds; transfer strained corn into a pot; add the reserved cooking liquid, butter, and water as necessary to make grits-like texture (we find that slightly on the thicker side is better; it should taste like a cross between grits and a movie theater); serve with a bowl of buttered popcorn on the side.

From the book, Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson (Phaidon, $49.95, October 2013).