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Friday, May 18, 2012

Spicy Kettle Corn

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A few weeks ago, I spent the week in Memphis for work. It was my first time visiting the city and, like every time I visit a new city, I was excited to check out the local restaurant scene. Although I'm not going to do a formal post on my Memphis eats, like I often do on vacation, I think it's worth noting a few restaurants I tried, lest any of you end up there sometime. Our work event was held at the Peabody Hotel, which was not only beautiful, old, and ornate, but served darn good hotel food. The breakfasts/lunches we had during the conference were better in terms of options and quality than I'm used to at events like that--no complaints from me!

Thankfully my friend and co-worker Juli is used to traveling with me and puts up with my desire to pick new restaurants to try. She happily lets me research and willingly goes along with whatever I come up with--you're the best Juli! This time around we had dinner at Flight--I loved everything about this meal! The concept of the restaurant (offering flights of both wine AND food) is incredibly unique (like tapas, but for those who don't want to share the tapas!) and the presentation and execution of each dish was perfect.

Being in Memphis we of course had to get our BBQ fix, and person after person recommended Rendezvous. I can't say I have a ton of authentic BBQ to compare it to (with the exception of Pappy's, which is STL BBQ), but I can certainly understand why the place is considered world famous. I practically licked my plate clean--the entire half rack of ribs, pulled pork, vinegar-based slaw, and beans. It was completely worth being full for the next fourteen hours! I came home with a bottle of their famous sauce in the hopes of recreating the experience sometime soon!

And then there was SOB-South of Beale. The salmon and maple glazed brussels sprouts I ordered there deserve a mention, but the real star of the show was the spicy kettle corn brought to our table upon seating. I'm not at all embarrassed to say that after finishing off our first bowl, Juli and I immediately asked for a second. The stuff is addictive, and I vowed to try to make something similar when I returned home...which brings us to today. Although my version is slightly less sugary (something that can be easily modified!), I felt this captured the essence of SOB's popcorn--sweet, salty, and spicy in every bite. Reading through the ingredients you might be turned off, but much like the Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn, it's one of those snacks that's hard to step away from!

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Banana French Toast Enchiladas
Two Years Ago: Open-Faced Veggie Sandwiches

Spicy Kettle Corn
inspired by South of Beale Memphis

-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-1/3 cup popcorn kernels
-2 tbsp granulated sugar
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-pinch of cinnamon
-salt, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp vegetable and a few popcorn kernels. Cover. Once at least one kernel has popped, add remaining kernels and top with sugar. Cover and shake pot to evenly distribute oil and sugar. Allow to cook over medium high heat, shaking occasionally, until popping slows to 1 second between pops.
2. Place popcorn in a large bowl. Spray with olive oil (if you have a mister) and sprinkle with cayenne, garlic powder, and cinnamon. Cover with lid or use a large spoon to evenly mix ingredients. Season with salt, to taste.